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 Post subject: ATA Security Mode
 Post Posted: Thu Dec 27, 2007 5:03 am 

Joined: Sat Sep 22, 2007 9:33 pm
Posts: 52
Location: Brisbane, Australia
I have read the part about ATA Security Mode in URPC_18ed and a few previous editions too.....but, what I want to know is....

Is the ATA Security Mode password/s saved in the motherboard RTC/NVRAM chip and if so, where else is it stored which it would have to be since NVRAM can be cleared....obviously ?
Is is saved to what I assume to be a EEPROM chip on the hard disk itself ?
Both ?

In any case, how do the password/s exactly protect the drives' data ?
Are the passwords used to encrypt something hence restricting access to the drive if it is moved to another system ?

You know what I want to know, Scott <g>


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 Post Posted: Thu Dec 27, 2007 10:55 am 
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Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2007 11:44 am
Posts: 6140
This subject is covered in *much* greater detail in my book Upgrading and Repairing Laptops 2nd ed.: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0789733765

The whole password issue can be somewhat complicated, so for the full reference you'll want to read p. 128-134.

The basic info is that there are potentially 3 hardware related passwords on a given system, called the POP (Power On Password), HDP (Hard Disk Password), and SVP (SuperVisor Password). The POP is stored in the motherboard CMOS RAM, and is easily removable if lost. The SVP is stored in an optional security chip on most motherboards and cannot easily be removed if lost. The HDP (Hard Disk Password) is physically stored on the hard disk (in a chip on the logic board to be precise), and cannot be cleared or overridden if lost, even if the hard disk is moved to another system.

The HDP doesn't encrypt the data on the drive, instead it will prevent any access to the drive unless supplied. However, note that thare are new drives available with FDE (Full Disk Encryption) built-in to the drive hardware, and these do indeed encrypt the data: http://www.seagate.com/docs/pdf/marketi ... fde_bb.pdf

Note that if an SVP is set on a system with no HDP, it will automatically set the HDP to the same value, and yet no HDP prompt will appear at boot time, or when the system resumes from standby. If the SVP is set on a system that already has an HDP, then a secondary HDP will be set with the same value as the SVP. In the latter case, the hard disk can be accessed with either the SVP or HDP.

If an HDP is set, you will be prompted (the HDP prompt normally appears as an image of a padlock next to a disk cylinder) for the password at the following times and under the following circumstances:

■ During the POST (Power On Self Test), each time the system is turned on.
■ If you move the drive to another system, you will still be required to type in the HDP during the POST each time the system is turned on.
■ If you have not set a supervisor password (SVP) in addition to the HDP, you will also be prompted to enter the HDP every time the system resumes from StandBy.

If you lose the SVP or HDP, there is one company I know of that can remove them (for a price): http://www.nortek.on.ca/Password%20Remo ... moval.aspx


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