Strengths: Flexibility of configuration; potentially robust encryption
Weaknesses: Requires a certain level of user understanding
Verdict: An interesting and capable tool for disk encryption, in the right hands
ProtectDrive encrypts disk drives, either wholly or in part, an approach that may well appeal to organisations or government agencies which run a fleet of laptops, or have multi-user access to fixed workstations. In such cases, concerns about data being misappropriated from the disk drives, should they fall into the wrong hands, can be very real.
Of course, such protection will only be as good as the attendant access control procedures, and the two layers should be looked at in parallel. ProtectDrive recognises this and provides flexible support for access control, including single sign-on management and the use of various GINAs.
Both Windows and Novell clients are supported, while a useful PDF manual stresses the importance of proper processes for security and data management. Much is also made of evaluation against Common Criteria, and which OSs and functions have been tested - ProtectDrive is certified to CC EAL2, with EAL4 under evaluation.
In this context, one gains the impression that ProtectDrive has been seriously considered from the broader security perspective. With regard to encryption, 3DES, IDEA and AES (up to 256-bit) algorithms are supported and encryption/decryption takes place in real-time. Theoretically this could cause a slight degradation of realised performance, but users should not find this an issue with contemporary hardware and memory complements.
User authentication takes place at pre-boot level, and two-factor authentication is supported, as is comprehensive password management, including password complexity, refresh rates and so on.
User management is simple, with up to 200 users supported per workstation configurable per user. Access to serial and parallel ports in included, as well as diskette read and write permissions.
While being reasonably straightforward in principle, there is a good deal of flexibility inherent in the configuration of this product for those who wish to exploit it.
It will appeal to those who are serious about security and prepared to invest some time in the development of risk management and appropriate processes in order to ensure that encryption is used wisely. In this respect, one might consider ProtectDrive as a professional tool worthy of inclusion in your security toolbox.