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Quantum prepares for tape storage lock down

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Tired of the delivery man pocketing your precious tape cartridges and selling them to the highest bidder? Yes, aren't we all. Well, Quantum has stepped up with a new arsenal of security technology meant to keep data stored on tape devices safe via both simple locks and encryption.

Quantum has developed a three-phase attack for improving tape protection, starting with DLTSage Tape Security. This product arrives via revamped firmware that slaps an electronic key into tape headers. Customers can only read and write data on the cartridge with that key. Quantum believes this provides a nice basic level of security without the performance overhead of more complex techniques.

"We are not encrypting the data," said Mark O'Malley, a manager of product strategy at Quantum. "The data is still in the clear. We are just adding a lock on the cartridge."

Customers can manage the keys on each individual drive or use software from Quantum and third parties to handle the information. The DLTSage technology will be available in the first quarter of 2006 via a firmware upgrade for DLT-V4 drives or on new DLT-S4 drives.

Tape drives can seem so boring and harmless until you lose them and enter a business and PR nightmare. Just ask Citibank, Bank of America and Time Warner, which suffered when their tape storage went missing, potentially exposing the information of millions of customers in some cases.

These high-profile incidents along with more stringent government regulation have made tape security a priority, according to Quantum.

"We used to look at adding more security, and there was no market demand for it," O'Malley said. "Now, we think this area is hotting up and that storage security will be one of the big themes for 2006."

The second phase of Quantum's security plan centers around a partnership with Decru - a division of NetApp since being acquired in June. Quantum will resell Decru's DataFort storage appliances that provide speedy data encryption.

And lastly, Quantum plans to offer native data encryption across it tape product line, starting in the second half of 2006.

Performing a tape backup is often that dreaded task foisted upon an innocent admin at smaller shops. This means that many companies have enough problems simply remembering to do the backups let alone figuring out which key goes with which cartridge. And Quantum seems to recognize some of these challenges with the new security line.

Still, it reckons companies can ill-afford to see their tape storage get lost in the mail. This means that many firms will take the time to set up solid storage and security procedures for keeping their tape storage safe.

We'll see. ®

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