FEATURED IN TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) recently concluded its annual meeting in Chicago, during which an activist collective known as “Anonymous” hacked into the IACP website as part of a protest against police brutality. The hacking is said to have compromised more than 600 MB of private information, including internal documents, membership rosters, addresses, social security numbers and about 1,000 user names and passwords belonging to the Boston Police Officers Association. Examples like this are increasingly common. As such, police officers and agencies must consider increasing the degree of difficulty in these attacks and protect data as best as we can.
For this reason, when Law Officer Magazine offered me the opportunity to critique the ToughTech Secure Q with WriteLock 256-Bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) 2,000 GB Hard Drive by WiebeTech, I gladly volunteered to try it out. The units support Windows and Mac disk formats. I had mine delivered pre-formatted for my PC and Windows 7 operating system. It should be noted that I’m by no means a computer programmer. I’m a cop who uses a computer every day—in my professional police job and in my side job as a college adjunct professor. However, like many of you, I do store a lot of confidential data that I don’t want to lose or have compromised.
Most police agencies and associations host a variety of secure materials and if that information was stolen and ended up in the wrong person’s possession, it would be quite damaging. The key-based encryption used by WiebeTech is the best feature of the product, reducing the need for complex authentication and software requirements. In a nutshell, protecting your data is as simple as using a key to lock or unlock the door to your house. The product has four interface options or ports to access and transfer the data, including external SATA (eSATA), Firewire 400, Firewire 800 and USB 2.0. By plugging in one of the three included keys into the mini-USB port on the front of the drive, the drive goes from “invisible and locked” to “visible and unlocked,” making your data available for viewing. An LED indicator on the drive glows red when the drive is locked and green when it’s unlocked. It goes without saying that you’ll want to make sure the keys are stored in a safe place. This is because the keys are programmed specifically for your drive and if all three keys are lost, your encrypted data will be virtually impossible to recover.
Another excellent attribute of this product is the ability to write-lock the drive. Let’s say you preload the drive with documents you don’t want modified so that they remain exactly as they were when you stored them. There’s a write-lock button that, as soon as it’s pushed, locks down the drive. If you want to re-allow write access, you have to open the enclosure to unlock the drive. The drive also has a slot for a cable lock (all of the cables needed to make the necessary connections are included) that gives you another level of safety.
Also, the 2 TB or 2,000 GB of storage capacity on the drive makes it a great device for transferring large amounts of secure data from one location to another. During a little speed test, I was able to save my entire iTunes music library of more than 5,500 songs (equivalent to 1.25 GB of music) onto the drive in about 30 seconds. I thought this was impressive, and I could see how police agencies could benefit from this technology. In large agencies especially, where huge files of sensitive data may need to be transmitted from one division to the next, it may be a viable option to download the data onto this drive and then deliver the drive. This is opposed to sending the data by other means that could result in compromising the information.
The unit costs about $370. Although this may be on the expensive side for raw storage capacity, when compared to typical hard drives, you’re really paying for security. Consider all the police agencies and associations that have been hacked this year and had their systems compromised. I think the product is well worth the price. And if you want the same key-based security without the massive storage space, then consider the smaller 250 GB WiebeTech Secure Mini-Q ($182). It offers similar encryption but in a more portable form.
Police are under constant attack—on the streets and in the cyber world. As such, we should consider all options to protect the integrity of our systems. So if you’re looking for a hard drive encryption to protect your information, I think a WiebeTech device is a good option. It’s a great way to secure large amounts of sensitive data that you may have sitting on an unprotected drive for anyone who plugs in to view. The level of encryption of this drive has been rated by the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS 140-2) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to be secure enough for classified government use. Even though a 256-bit encryption could potentially be beaten by the most sophisticated criminals with advanced computer capabilities, it’s safe to say that your personal and professional data will be relatively secure from hackers, identity thieves and other criminals trying to take advantage of the data that’s been entrusted to us as police officers.
ToughTech Secure Q with WriteLock 256-Bit AES Hard Drive
• Key-based encryption
• Write-lock hard drive ability
• Large storage space (2 TB)
Approximate street price: