Micron and the Drive Trust Alliance

By Jon Tanguy - 2015-10-21

Micron is proud to be a charter member of the Drive Trust Alliance, or DTA, which is announcing its launch this month (October 2015), which also happens to be National Cyber Security Awareness Month in the United States.  In this post I’ll discuss the DTA, its purpose, goals, and why Micron decided to join this industry effort.

First, a Little History

Micron’s first self-encrypting drive (SED) was shipped way back in 2011 (practically ancient history in high-tech terms!).  The following generation of Micron client SSDs launched in early 2013, marking the first time Micron shipped 256-bit TCG Opal 2.0-compliant hardware encryption as a standard option.  We understood how important encryption of stored data was as part of the overall data security environment, and we wanted to make it available as broadly as possible.  Today, our Micron M600 and Crucial MX200 SSDs come standard as 256-bit SEDs.

Back when our first encrypted SSDs were entering the market, upwards of 25% of all publicly acknowledged data breaches were because of a lost or stolen laptop or other data storage device.  By 2013, the percentage of data breaches caused by lost devices was reduced by half, to around 12% [source:  Open Security Foundation].  We like to think we contributed a little bit to this improvement by enabling wider adoption of SEDs.  Unfortunately, while the percentage of breaches caused by lost devices has reduced, the overall number of breaches has doubled, and so data breach by lost storage device remains a huge problem.

A Look Into the Future

Micron’s effort to bring encryption to a wider audience is helping to make encryption of stored data commonplace, bordering on universal.  In fact, industry analysts now believe that by 2017, effectively all SSDs shipped to nations that allow the technology will be self-encrypting.  Unfortunately, those same analysts think that of all those solid state SEDs deployed in the marketplace, only 10% will actually take advantage of this state-of-the-art data protection technology.

This bleak projection spurred some of the pioneers in the data security industry to create the DTA. It is also what inspired Micron to join this effort, to do our part to ensure the safety of our customers’ data.

What is the DTA?

The word “trust” is used very deliberately in Drive Trust Alliance.  The concept of a trusted system is well-established, and simply means that a computing system performs as expected.  Its behavior is verified to be trusted.  Trusted computing was conceptualized many years ago, and the Trusted Computing Group formed in 2003 as an industry effort to standardize behavior of computing systems so that such behavior can be verified.  Specific devices and terms like “trusted platform module” and “root of trust” are commonly used in the industry today.

However, these terms may not be very familiar to those outside the data security industry, and thus may seem a bit esoteric.  This is where the DTA comes in.  If a simple overall goal was stated, it might be: “Let’s make these terms easy and understandable to everyone, and bring this technology to a wide base, across business and consumer markets.”

SEDs Should be Everywhere!

Micron wholeheartedly shares the DTA view that “Our aim is to bring the benefits of SED technology to every computing environment in the world.  SEDs have already largely succeeded in data centers and on phones and [tablets]. Now is the time to succeed everywhere else on laptops, desktops and IoT [the Internet of Things].”  Micron is building the best available encryption technology into our SEDs.  With the help of the DTA, we intend to get this technology everywhere, from the multi-national corporation, to the small-to-medium business (SMB), to the individual consumer.  We can help maximize the protection of data everywhere while bringing with it the lightning speed of solid state drives.

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Jon Tanguy

Jon Tanguy

Jon is a Senior Technical Marketing Engineer for Micron's Storage Business Unit, with a focus on client solid state drives.