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I haven't really heard anything on how the Soild State Drives are doing out in the real world and I was wondering if they are better than traditional hard drives. Is a SSD more secure or less secure than the traditional hard drives.

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Can a hard drive even be more or less secure? Don't they just both hold which ever data you write to them? Perhaps SSDs can be more easily wiped, but I think that is about it. –  Kibbee Sep 19 '11 at 1:08
    
@Kibbee - some drives implement ATA standards better than others. See, for example, passwords or encryption etc. Also, SSD are harder to wipe. –  DanBeale Sep 19 '11 at 6:50
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Security in terms of confidentiality, availability, or integrity? What filesystem are you planning to use? –  this.josh Sep 19 '11 at 8:03
    
@DanBeale As I always understood it, using spinning platters, nobody can ever agree on how many times you're supposed to overwrite the data, before electron tunneling microscopes can't decipher what data used to be there. But a properly implemented (proper implementation being key here) SSD only has to be overwritten once to ensure all old data is gone. Although this whole thing may be moot anyway because if you are that worried, you should have been using whole disk encryption and shredding (physically) the disk after you're done with it. Please correct me if I'm wrong, with sources please. –  Kibbee Sep 19 '11 at 12:47
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4 Answers

Summary thoughts:

  • Bad: SSD model that has a lousy secure erase mechanism.
  • Good: Any standard HDD; SSD model that is known to be good.
  • Best: SSD or HDD with hardware encryption. Any medium when using full disk encryption.

Detail:

Some background answers from other questions that will help out:

SSD (Flash Memory) security when data is encrypted in place

How can files be deleted in a HIPAA-compliant way?

I think the only security difference between SSD and HDD technology comes when you discuss repurposing a drive. If you're in an environment where storage is repurposed, you need to make sure that the SSD drive you select can be reliably cleared. There are many models that don't do that properly. See SSDs prove difficult to securely erase for some info on it.

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It doesn't make much difference to security. Pick SSD vs hard drive based upon functionality, performance, and cost -- not based upon security.

If you care about the security of your data and ensuring it isn't breached if your computer (e.g., laptop) is lost, then use full-disk encryption. Truecrypt has free full-disk encryption software, and there's plenty of enterprise-oriented commercial software for full-disk encryption as well.

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I agree with the previous posters that for security it doesn't really matter because you should use full disk encryption anyway. All I can add is some real world situations...

Scenario 1 You didn't use encryption and your drive stops working: with a hard drive, you can physically destroy it to ensure that sneaky people can't pull your data off it. With a SSD, that is much much harder.

Scenario 2 You need to replace the drive, so you first decide to find the best encryption solution. There are ways into pretty much every software disk encryption solution. Eg. MS Bitlocker can currently be broken even if the PC is turned off and in hibernation. Truecrypt has similar vulnerabilities if the machine is on, or if the encryption is not on the whole system disk. However system disk encryption with Truecrypt is safe as far as I know, even for hibernation. You can go for hardware encryption, such as the Intel 320 Series SSD, but when you look at it closely, you find that the password you put in is not the password used to encrypt. Intel sets that at the factory, and the software they provide to let you change it doesn't work. So Intel has your keys.

That's a pity because the hardware encryption speed would have been really good. Luckily, you use a CPU that has hardware encryption on board, like Intel's AES-NI, or VIA's solution.

I'm sorry if I appear to have gone off topic. But my point is that physical storage medium is the LAST thing you should think about in a secure setup. And your decision on that should be based on your speed, size and cost requirements, not security.

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+1 for your final paragraph alone. Very true. –  Rory Alsop Sep 19 '11 at 8:10
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There are some problems with SDD concerning the security of "erased" data.

The logical destruction of files isn't correctly done in some drives, even using the built-in commands. You can take a look at this site, from some group at USCD. They've published some papers about it.

The problem is somehow old: in SSD, you can't be sure you're overwriting the old information. So, manufacturers have implemented commands to do that. But not all them work as expected, especially if you can have access to the Flash chips.

So, if your question was about security (and not reliability), I would concern a bit more about SSDs.

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