I have an SSD with the option (with ATA-commands) to erase the firmware for security reasons. In the firmware flash cells, the secret key is stored for encrypting the data on the fly. When I ask the vendor how it is deleted, they tell me it is erased. But I would like to know "how it is erased". They tell me the cells are not zeroized. That would require extra configuration. "it is just erased".

My worries: The key can still be extracted due to the flash cells are not overwritten. Are all the electric fields depleted? What stops someone for extracting the key?

Am I totally wrong in this case?

  • You are apparently referring to a SED (Self Encrypting Drive). The details you're asking will likely vary with the particular manufacturer and drive model. Here is a very good article that still doesn't answer your question: techspot.com/guides/869-self-encrypting-drives . Nov 13, 2020 at 16:42

1 Answer 1


I suggest reaching back out to the vendor for clarification. If they are adhering to the standard, than ATA secure erase will empty all its cells to zero. If your vendor is a reputable one, then you can be fairly confident this is a proper and secure process. For less reputable vendors, sometimes... liberties are taken.

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