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Cloud system tracks CDs sent through post

Design inspired by HMRC debacle

UK startup Conseal Security has started selling a security system for CD and DVD media inspired by the notorious HMRC data loss incident in 2007 when the names and addresses of 25 million child benefit claimants was lost on a CD sent through the post.

Conseal CD lets senders track access to media sent by them using a cloud-based system, restricting access to that data and even destroying it remotely if it is feared that it might have fallen into the wrong hands.

Although passwords to open the data have to be transferred manually via email or phone, recipients cannot access the 256-bit AES dual-encrypted data without using the portal. Each access is logged right down to the IP and Mac address of the PC used and the sender can also require that the data be opened from within specific networks, or PCs, or at certain times of the day.

The security feature on which the whole system rests is that discs are useless unless accessed in conjunction with the cloud-based server system. This means that even if the data is copied the same access rules apply to its contents.

"Conseal CD allows sensitive data owners to maintain centralised control of the storage medium, even when it is a low-cost write-once format such as a CD-R or DVD-R," said CTO and Conseal founder, Tom Colvin. "Its unique Dual Lock system, which ensures that the disc remains protected even if a hacker subsequently guesses the password."

The discs themselves are encrypted using a downloadable utility that automatically registers each one with the online system. Users subscribe to the service for 12 months at a time, buying the right to use Conseal to encrypt and track a given number of CDs or DVDs.

If an account exceeds a given number of discs, users can either buy another chunk of licenses or de-activate one of the discs already in use.

Pricing for Conseal CD is identical to that of the company's first system for protecting USB drives using the same system, which for home users costs a flat fee of £19.95 for five drives or discs; corporate licences start at £99 per month for 100 discs or drives.

An obvious issue with the system is that discs would become inaccessible without the Conseal cloud system, which means that buyers have to believe that the company will stick around. But with a lack of secure easy to send physical media around the country in a secure and policy-manageable way, admins will see this as worth risking.


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