Disk encryption and HSPD-12

This is probably just one GCN editor's interpretation, but Thi Nguyen-Huu, CEO of WinMagic Data Security in Mississauga, Ontario, sounds a bit like the Rodney Dangerfield of security technology. During a visit to GCN's offices, Nguyen-Huu intimated that his company's product class'whole-disk encryption'doesn't get the respect it deserves. And he could be right.

'File encryption is not good enough to protect data,' Nguyen-Huu said. He's also not keen on new mobile security technologies that wipe out hard drives when the device is stolen. Smart bad guys, he reasoned, will know how to defeat those solutions.

In reality, WinMagic's disk encryption technology is well-respected in government. It enjoys, among other things, FIPS-140-1 Level 2, Common Criteria, Defense Department Joint Interoperability Test Command and National Security Agency certification for protecting government data. Common Criteria EAL 4 is in the works, the company said.

In December, WinMagic launched version 4.1 of its SecureDoc software, which builds on what Nguyen-Huu said is the company's next big focus'HSPD-12 and smart-card integration. SecureDoc encrypts computer data using 256-bit AES encryption during the preboot sequence, thereby enhancing security, and now works with a variety of biometrics, hardware tokens and public-key infrastructure tools. Nguyen-Huu said WinMagic is working on FIPS-201 compliance for HSPD-12 applications.

Though not yet a full-fledged HSPD-12 scenario, the State Department recently completed a pilot using SecureDoc in conjunction with a personal identification card and PKI. Precise Biometrics Inc. of Vienna, Va., helped stand up the pilot under a subcontract from Belcamp, Md.-based SafeNet Inc. Colleen Madigan of Precise Biometrics deemed the pilot a success, but couldn't say yet when a larger rollout might happen.

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