WiebeTech Announces FireWire Encrypt, 1394b/USB2 Bridgeboard

Sure, FireWire is a great technology, but for some, even the 400 Mbit/sec throughput rate may not be enough. Plus, many folks have security concerns about the data on their drive. Good thing there are innovative companies like WiebeTech to help address these needs. We had a chance to talk with James Wiebe, CEO of WiebeTech, to learn about their new technology and products meant to address these needs.

In the area of data security, WiebeTech announced the availability of their patent-pending technology named FireWire Encrypt. Unlike some other solutions, which can encrypt data on a file-by-file basis using software on the host computer, FireWire Encrypt actually encrypts data at the drive level using the Oxford 9XX FireWire bridge chip. Once the drive is plugged in, one needs to run a small Java applet that prompts the user for a passphrase. If the correct passphrase is supplied, the drive is mounted, and the user can access the encrypted data. Suffice to say that the encryption, which uses a 128-bit key and the NIST Advanced Encryption Standard algorithm, will keep your data safe. We did note one issue with the security implementation, in that an attacker could obtain the key since it is sent in the clear from the Mac to the drive, but if someone has the ability to do this, you probably have bigger security issues to deal with.

For those that needs to move data quickly, WiebeTech also announced the availability of a 1394b and USB2 bridgeboard. This is good news for those who purchase the new 17" PowerBook, which has one of these 1394b (aka FireWire 800) ports. Tests in the WiebeTech labs have shown 1394b hard drive throughput rates of up to 60MB/sec. Having the USB2 ports is a nice addition, more for the PC market that the Mac market, which has embraced FireWire instead of USB2.

FireWire Encrypt is available for licensing now, and will be included in future WiebeTech products. The 1394b and USB2 bridgeboard will be available to OEMs in February 2003.