SecureDrives Autothysis SSDs can self-destruct via text message

If encryption just isn't secure enough for you, these new solid-state drives will wipe their data or even physically fragment their flash memory when the owner sends the device an SMS message.


Self-destructing information was the stuff of pure imagination when Mission: Impossible told everyone how long it would take for the messages on the show to self-destruct (5 seconds, for this too young to know). Flash-forward nearly 50 years, and self-destruction is a trendy form of security for real-life communications, from social networking to mobile devices.

Now a British company has brought self-destruction to an increasingly popular form of storage, especially for corporate data. SecureDrives has introduced the Autothysis line of solid-state drives that can go way beyond mere encryption to protect information that can't fall into the wrong hands.

The company has designed these SSDs to take commands from their owners remotely, able to respond to SMS messages delivered via cell phone thanks to built-in GSM capabilities. Drives both "self-destruct" and self-destruct. A text can make the Autothysis wipe data via what SecureDrives calls "crypto sanitization," then the NAND flash memory on the drive is physically fragmented, which makes it nearly impossible to recover info should anyone make the attempt. SecureDrives claims that these are the first SSDs available that offer such remote physical fragmentation.

In addition to remote killing via text message, the drives can also self-destruct based on settings accessible through its "Token" command center utility (the Autothysis128t) or an iOS or Android smartphone app (the Autothysis128s). Other triggers that can be set include an attempt to remove the drive from a PC or the drive (or PC its installed in) being moved while the owner is away from it. Any attempt to crack open the drive will also set off the self-destruct mechanism.

Along with the 007-type features, the Autothysis drives come with 128GB of storage courtesy of Micron 20nm NAND flash memory and 256-bit AES encryption for less life-threatening moments. While security is at a premium with these SSDs, performance is not. Rated speeds are a lowly 127MB/s for sequential reads and 120MB/s for sequential writes, with a max of 20,000 IOPS for either random 4k writes or reads.

You'll pay a pretty (British) penny for the Autothysis SSDs, little surprise given the whiz-band level of security you'll receive. The Autothsis128s will sell for 967 pounds (roughly $1,563) and the Autothysis128t will sell for 60 pounds more (or a grand total of $1,660). The first year of GSM service (to allow the remote destruction features) is included, but after that you'll need to pay 29 pounds annually -- a small price for those willing to pay $1,500 for a drive that will blow itself up on command.