Mark Adams

Data Security in a Flash World

Blog Post created by Mark Adams Employee on Aug 26, 2015

The ability to erase all data from a storage system should be part of any organization’s security procedures.  This is especially important for sensitive information like financial or healthcare records but every organization needs to take the utmost care that its data doesn’t fall into unauthorized hands.


The storage industry has worked for years to perfect data destruction techniques for hard drives. It turns out that this is of little value for flash storage devices like SSDs.  Just overwriting the user data on a device isn’t sufficient, as this will only erase data on a logical but not a physical basis.  By that I mean that only the translation layer between the device interface and the media is erased making it difficult but certainly not impossible to retrieve the user data.


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HDS recently introduced a service to eradicate data on any of our Flash Module Drives (FMDs).  The electrons that form the bits in all of the cells with user data are removed to physically erase those cells.   After erasing the data, the device is read and a report is issued to show the results.  On the off chance that the eradication service did not run successfully, the FMD is flagged and then physically destroyed.


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What makes us very unique is that we can not only erase the data in the addressable spaces but also erase data in the overprovisioning space as well as any bad blocks that have been mapped out.  As overprovisioning space can be taken in and out of usage during garbage collection processes on a flash device, this capability is essential to ensuring the complete sanitation of the FMD.


While all of the user data is erased, the firmware and operational data on the drive is preserved. This allows an FMD to be re-deployed with its warranty remaining in force.  This is also a very secure way to test our flash technology in a Proof of Concept test without any worry that sensitive data may have been captured on the flash array.


More information on our flash portfolio of solutions can be found here.