Disk Encryption and PGP


Chris | Live Tech Support | Video Help | Add to iTunes

http://live.pirillo.com/ – PGP’s “Whole Disc Encryption” sounds like a good idea. Everything is protected! But, what about the drawbacks of that? What about the fact that it’s considered a ‘feature’… one that can be disabled anytime a user chooses?

Four of my friends joined me for this discussion: Kat, SC_Thor, Wirelesspacket, and last but certainly not least… Datalore.

PGP Corporation’s widely adopted Whole Disk Encryption product has an encryption bypass “feature” that allows an encrypted drive to be accessed without the boot-up passphrase challenge dialog, leaving data in a vulnerable state if the drive is stolen when the bypass feature is enabled. The feature is also not in the documentation that ships with the PGP product, nor the publicly available documentation on their website, but only mentioned briefly in the customer knowledge base.

According to PGP themselves, “PGP Whole Disk Encryption locks down the entire contents of a laptop, desktop, external drive, or USB flash drive, including boot sectors, system, and swap files. The encryption is transparent to the user, automatically protecting data.”

What good is this though, if someone decides it’s too much work? Let’s say Company A’s employee doesn’t want the hassle of going through all that to get to his files and programs. So, he disables it. Uh oh… the laptop was stolen. Now, all of Company A’s documents are accessible to anyone who can turn the laptop on. Kinda defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t see this as much of a “feature”. I see it as a big loophole, in an otherwise excellent product.

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Dealing with Hard Drives NAS, eSATA, and ZFS


Chris | Live Tech Support | Video Help | Add to iTunes

http://live.pirillo.com/ – The round table got into a pretty deep discussion about SATA drives, and different ways of getting more storage on your computer.

Four of my friends joined me for this discussion: Kat, SC_Thor, Wirelesspacket, and last but certainly not least… Datalore.

An eSATA port is built into most newer motherboards. This is a port built right into the back of your computer that allows you to plug in an external hard drive directly, allowing it to run at much faster speeds.

Drobo is the world’s first storage robot. It keeps your data safe by automatically monitoring and repairing problems that could put your data at risk.

ZFS is a new kind of file system that provides simple administration, transactional semantics, end-to-end data integrity, and immense scalability. ZFS is not an incremental improvement to existing technology; it is a fundamentally new approach to data management.

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Second Hard Drive


Chris | Live Tech Support | Video Help | Add to iTunes

http://live.pirillo.com/ – A Community member wrote in to ask exactly when and why someone would need a second hard drive. In my mind, there is only ONE reason… and it’s a darn good one.

Say it with me: DATA. BACKUP. PEACE. OF. MIND. .

Your main hard drive just died. All of your documents, pictures, videos and important data are on that drive. What do you do now? Often, there is nothing you can do. This is why I believe everyone should have a second hard drive inside their computer. I keep all of my data on my “Documents” drive. Spreadsheets, videos, pictures, PowerPoint presentations, documents… you name it, that’s where you’ll find it. If my primary drive fails or I need to reinstall Windows for some reason, I don’t have to worry about my data. It’s all safe and secure on that completely separate hard drive. That, folks, is called peace of mind.

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Amazon S3 Web Services Pricing

Changes are afoot:

This is a note to inform you about some changes we’re making to our pricing, effective June 1, 2007.

With Amazon S3 recently celebrating its one year birthday, we took an in-depth look at how developers were using the service, and explored whether there were opportunities to further lower costs for our customers. The primary area our customers had asked us to investigate was whether we could charge less for bandwidth.

There are two primary costs associated with uploading and downloading files: the cost of the bandwidth itself, and the fixed cost of processing a request. Consistent with our cost-following pricing philosophy, we determined that the best solution for our customers, overall, is to equitably charge for the resources being used – and therefore disaggregate request costs from bandwidth costs.

Making this change will allow us to offer lower bandwidth rates for all of our customers. In addition, we’re implementing volume pricing for bandwidth, so that as our customers’ businesses grow and help us achieve further economies of scale, they benefit by receiving even lower bandwidth rates. Finally, this means that we will be introducing a small request-based charge for each time a request is made to the service. Below are the details of the new pricing plan (also available on the Amazon S3 detail page):

Current bandwidth price (through May 31, 2007)
$0.20 / GB – uploaded
$0.20 / GB – downloaded

New bandwidth price (effective June 1, 2007)
$0.10 per GB – all data uploaded
$0.18 per GB – first 10 TB / month data downloaded
$0.16 per GB – next 40 TB / month data downloaded
$0.13 per GB – data downloaded / month over 50 TB

Data transferred between Amazon S3 and Amazon EC2 will remain free of charge

New request-based price (effective June 1, 2007)
$0.01 per 1,000 PUT or LIST requests
$0.01 per 10,000 GET and all other requests*
* No charge for delete requests

Storage will continue to be charged at $0.15 / GB-month used.

The end result is an overall price reduction for the vast majority of our customers. If this new pricing had been applied to customers’ March 2007 usage, 75% of Amazon S3 customers would have seen their bill decrease, while an additional 11% would have seen an increase of less than 10%. Only 14% of customers would have experienced an increase of greater than 10%.

We don’t anticipate making further structural changes to Amazon S3 pricing in the future, but we will continue to look for ways to drive down costs and pass the savings on to you.

P.S. Please note that the reduced bandwidth rates shown above will also take effect for Amazon EC2 and Amazon SQS. The bandwidth tier in which you will be charged each month will be calculated based on your use of each of these services separately, and could therefore vary across services.