Imation plans to launch a version of the 120Mb floppy replacement disk which automatically encrypts data as it is copied to the disk.
Imation owns the patent for the 120Mb disks used in the LS120 SuperDisk drive. The disks are the same as ordinary LS120 media, but contain 2Mb of proprietary 32-bit encryption software which forces the operating system to view the disk as two logical drives. One of these logical drives will be treated just as an ordinary disk, but any data which is stored on the other will be automatically encrypted. The scrambled data can only be retrieved by entering the correct password as set by the original user.
This means that, should an encrypted SuperDisk containing sensitive data become lost or stolen, it is highly unlikely that the information could be accessed - doing so would require the kind of computing capabilities far beyond the reach of most individuals and organisations.
However, Imation is keen to warn users that should they lose their passwords, there will be no alternative means of retrieving the secured data.
Imation, which also owns some of the patents involved in the design and manufacture of the SuperDisk drive, recently announced that so far over 2 million of the drives, manufactured by Mitsubishi and Panasonic, have been sold worldwide.
Marcus Heap, Imation's European business manager, believes that it will take at least another six months for the device to gain mass acceptance as a true replacement for the traditional floppy. He told PC Week: "Some really big people have said that if we can get the unit price to below (#30) they'll sign agreements, and although we're getting closer it's probably going to be 1999 before that happens."
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