How Seagate Is Using IBM’s Blockchain Platform To Curb Hard Drive Piracy

According to the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, global trade in counterfeit and pirated electronic products has reached more than $1.7 trillion in value. A new collaboration brings together IBM’s Blockchain platform and Seagate’s fingerprinting technology to maintain the authenticity of hard drives throughout its product life cycle. This project is aimed at augmenting manufacturers and users with multi-layered security protection in their fight against fraudulent hard drives and data theft.

Cryptographic Erasure

It is estimated that around 50,000 drives are retired from data centres daily. The data on these drives is still readable and that’s why it’s unsafe to be discarded without destruction. Every single stripe is capable of storing hundreds of names and it becomes extremely crucial to retire these drives with great care.

Even if the drive is physically shredded, there is still a chance of potentially leaving readable data on the drive.

So many corporations retire their drives by locking them up indefinitely in warehouses. We can clearly see that a hard drive is vulnerable right from the time it leaves the manufacturing unit until it is discarded.

Secure Erase Deployment was developed to retire the drives safely. All data stored an SED is encrypted by default. A user can either retire and destroy the data or re-use his drive for new data just by sending a command to the drive and SED’s cryptographic erase is capable of changing the data encryption key. And, once the encryption key is changed, data becomes unreadable and can never be recovered. This way, Seagate eliminates the need for physical degaussing or using up a lot of floor space for stacking up dumped drives and from being stolen.

Verifying Authenticity

With cryptographic signatures, the hardware is assured of protection but now this Cupertino firm is also determined to chop off the treachery at the supply chain end too. The fake drives which slip into mainstream markets sometimes do get spotted. These drives when returned, for instance, say, a returned duplicate item to an online vendor too, ends up in the supply chain. This phenomenon of reverse supply chain makes it tricky for the hard drive manufacturers to keep track of their genuine products. To rope in IBM blockchain technology is a smart move by Seagate to thwart the 100 billion dollars swindling business.

Powered by Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric distributed ledger framework,  IBM blockchain platform allows the users to add the blockchain data and view the same. IBM is an early member of Hyperledger, an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies.

Since 2016, IBM has worked with hundreds of clients across financial services, supply chain, government, retail, digital rights management and healthcare to implement blockchain applications, and operates a number of networks running live and in production. The cloud-based IBM Blockchain Platform delivers the end-to-end capabilities that clients need to quickly activate and successfully develop, operate, govern and secure their own business networks.

Every HDD has a unique electronic ID which Seagate will update the IBM Blockchain platform with, using IBM Cloud.

With Certified Erase, Seagate uses a cryptographic erasure technology to produce a digital certificate which is signed under the Seagate Secure public key infrastructure. This certificate is later stored on the blockchain for cross-validation and data privacy protection. Viewing is entirely dependent on the level of permission received by each participant. The provenance of a product in its lifetime will be assured on blockchain with reduced data loss, fake products and warranty costs.

Beyond Bitcoin

In this digital age, customers rely on third parties for both financial and non-financial transactions. The blockchain is strictly designed around distributed consensus and anonymity. It cuts out the middlemen and accommodates a trustworthy framework unbeknownst to mankind. From solving copyright issues in the music industry to ensuring safe discarding of important data,  blockchain technology has found its applications beyond bitcoin and continues to do so. This project by Seagate and IBM is expected to see fruition by the end of this year and is deemed to address many issues concerning data storage; from internal corporate records to national security.

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