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Cipher Drive SC Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Does the CipherChain have any limit on the drive capacity?
    There is no capacity limitation on the hard drive. Any hard drive can be partitioned and formatted as one single large volume.

  2. What is Cipher Drive SC?
    Cipher Drive SC is a secure hard disk enclosure for 2.5” SATA hard drives. It provides access control via two-factor authentication and data-at-rest security via hardware-based full disk encryption.

  3. How easy it is to use Cipher Drive SC?
    It is very simple and straightforward. After installing the hard drive into Cipher Drive SC, it is as simple as connecting Cipher Drive SC to your computer, inserting your smart card and entering a PIN.

  4. Is there software to install to use the Cipher Drive SC?
    No software is required to be installed.  This device can be used on any system.  All administrative setup can be done directly on the Cipher Drive itself.

  5. What are the advantages of using Cipher Drive SC over other USB drive enclosures?
    Cipher Drive SC provides state of the art security via two-factor authentication and hardware-based full disk encryption. It combines  smart card technology and pin code for two-factor authentication.

  6. What is two-factor authentication?
    Two-factor authentication is an authentication protocol that requires two independent methods to establish one’s identity and privileges. Cipher Drive SC implements two-factor authentication by requiring that the user have the associated smart card (something you have) and knowledge of the PIN (something you know). This offers stronger security than traditional password or hardware key only security.
  7. What are the advantages of two-factor authentication?
    Two-factor authentication offers stronger security than traditional password, biometric or hardware key/token only systems. Should your smart card be stolen/lost along with your Cipher Drive SC, your data will still be secure as long as the PIN is only known to you.

  8. What are the advantages of hardware-based full disk encryption over software encryption solutions?
    • Unlike existing software solutions, Cipher Drive SC encrypts every single byte and sector of the hard drive. This means all temporary files, all partitions and even the boot sector is encrypted.
    • One major disadvantage of existing software disk encryption products is that they are Operating System (mostly Windows) dependent. Cipher Drive SC is independent of the OS or the host system BIOS and thus supports any OS.
    • Cipher Drive SC does not involve any tedious and error-prone software installation and configuration. Just plug Cipher Drive SC Mobile in the computer, authenticate yourself and you are ready to go.
    • Once installed, Cipher Drive SC does not require any maintenance or patches thus reducing the total cost of ownership of the product.
    • There are also no performance overheads due to encryption/decryption of data, unlike software-based solutions.

  9. What happens when Cipher Drive SC malfunctions?
    Every Cipher Drive SC is subjected to a stringent quality assurance process prior to shipment. However, hard drives installed in Cipher Drive SC still have a limited lifetime. As such, users are advised to backup their data regularly. The encryption key is stored securely in the included smart cards. In the event that Cipher Drive SC malfunctions, the data in the drive will still be readable as long as the smart cards are present. Simply install your drive in another Cipher Drive SC of the same encryption key length, initialize your card(s), and you may use the new Cipher Drive SC as per normal.

  10. Is the boot sector also encrypted?
    Yes, Cipher Drive SC employs full disk encryption (FDE), meaning every single byte and sector of your hard drive is encrypted.

  11. Does encryption decrease drive performance?
    No. The on-the-fly hardware encryption engine in Cipher Drive SC runs so fast and transparently on the SATA interface, such that it does NOT incur any performance overhead, nor require any additional CPU resources.

  12. How strong is the encryption of Cipher Drive SC?
    Cipher Drive SC offers AES encryption scheme with a key-strength of 256 bits.

  13. Can the PIN be changed later without data loss?
    Yes, the smart card PIN may be easily changed during the time of authentication without any data loss. Please note that PINs are smart card specific so changing the PIN with one smart card does NOT automatically change the PIN of another.

  14. Can I use Cipher Drive SC with my operating system?
    Yes. Because Cipher Drive SC uses hardware for the authentication and encryption processes, it is operating system independent. As long as your choice of operating system supports the USB Mass Storage class specification and/or Firewire 400/800 specification, you may use Cipher Drive SC with it. Cipher Drive SC has been tested under Windows 7, XP, Vista, Mac OS and Linux.

  15. What happens if I lose my smart card?
    The smart cards included contain the encryption key of the installed drive. The key is protected by your PIN, and hence it is inherently secure as long as your PIN is not compromised. If you lose your 1st card, please continue to use the 2nd card to access your drive. You may wish to purchase additional cards. Please note that new cards will come with new encryption keys, so please backup your data with your existing card before using the new cards.

  16. What is the lockout mode on the Cipher Drive SC?
    Cipher Drive SC allows the user to choose between two Smart Card Lockout modes. No lockout or Lockout.  The default setting is set at No lockout mode.  The user is able to toggle the Lockout mode.  In Lockout mode, the Cipher Drive SC will be automatically disconnected from the host PC upon card removal.

  17. Can I remove the smart card while using the Cipher Drive SC in Lockout mode?
    Do not remove the smart card when the Cipher Drive SC is accessed.  Doing so may cause unrecoverable data loss or corruption.




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