The Western Digital My Cloud EX4 network attached storage is the single worst technology purchase I’ve ever made. While I figure out what to do about my back up needs, let’s take a quick look back at this dumpster fire of a NAS box.
However, only now Kaspersky Lab’s experts can confirm they have discovered a threat actor that surpasses anything known in terms of complexity and sophistication of techniques, and that has been active for almost two decades – The Equation Group.
This is from the opening paragraph of a paper published by Kaspersky Labs, a Russian company that produces security software for home and business use. It sounds like something out of the next mediocre hacker film, yet the paper published delivers a pretty in-depth look at what tactics nations have been using to spy on computer users.
Specifically the tactics linked to Stuxnet, an NSA cyber weapon used to monitor Iran’s nuclear program. Kaspersky stopped short of actually naming the nations responsible for this new intrusion, but links info to tools and programs which have been evolving since 2001 and utilized by the NSA.
To over simplify, this new attack is able to reprogram the firmware built in to mass storage devices like hard drives. Once inside the firmware, it doesn’t matter if a target reformats the drive as it’s inside the software used to control the drive.
From there a tiny invisible partition is created to store and transmit information back to the attackers. This partition can be used to transfer individual files, or be used to help crack a computer’s encryption.
According to Kaspersky, pretty much all major drives from companies like Western Digital, Seagate, and more are affected. Targets appear to be international, as drives with infected firmware have been found in government and military systems, telecommunications companies, banks, and energy companies.
Storage is a big deal right now. Consumers routinely pick up thousands of gigabytes for cheap, and we’re all flirting with cloud storage which requires companies to run tons of redundant back ups. We’re creeping up on the maximum density per platter that physics will allow for packing info on a spinning disc, but other concerns can limit hard disc storage as well.
Namely air turbulence.
Yep. High performance drives spin up quickly. That 7200RPM badge on the side of your drive is commonplace these days, but that’s still pretty incredible when you think about it. Every second the platters are rotating 120 times. Those platters are designed around a certain fault tolerance and thermal envelope. Run them too hot too long and they’ll fail.
We’ve already posted about the new “shingled” array that Seagate and WD will look to use to pack more info on a drive, but that comes with certain sensitivities. Also, with each improvement in storage density comes the risk of losing even more data in the event of failure. HGST looks to improve run time and durability by hermetically sealing the drive in an envelope of Helium.
Helium is lighter than air, so there should be less resistance and turbulence. Less turbulence means less power is needed to spin the drive up, which results in less heat generated and a cooler operation temperature. Cooler temps should deliver long life cycles. It’s a very interesting solution for providing a more robust storage architecture. This kind of big storage affects every kind of service we use online today from social networking to streaming video.
HGST says the drives are “generally available now”, but bxpect the first applications to be for corporate storage. I wouldn’t be surprised to see these drives trickling out into consumer grade workstations next year.
Full PR after the jump. Continue reading “Western Digital owned HGST turns to Helium for 6TB hard drive”
Rob Moore, the CEO of ioSafe, joins me to chat about some of their solutions which should help answer ALL THREE of those questions about your data and how secure it might be!