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Security flaws found in WD portable external hard drives could expose your data

By Kenny Yeo - on 12 Nov 2015, 9:55am

Security flaws found in WD portable external hard drives could expose your data

Researchers have discovered that the hardware encryption built into portable external hard drives from WD has fatal security flaws that could allow attackers to recover data without the owner's password.

The researchers looked at how the self-encryption feature was implemented in several popular WD My Passport and My Book models and "found design flaws and backdoor-like features that enable brute-force password guessing attacks or even decryption of the data without knowing the password."

The problem lies with the chip that bridges the USB and SATA interfaces, and even though the security issues varies from drive to drive, the researchers found that they were all serious.

In one instance, researchers found that attackers could extract security keys from a supposedly hidden sector on the hard disk itself and use the key to decipher the password.

For an in-depth explanation of the security flaws, click here.

We reached out to WD for comments and according to them, these issues only affect older drives and have since been fixed with a software update.

A statement from WD reads:

WD encourages the responsible disclosure of potential security concerns with our products by the security research community. Recently that community published information about a disk encryption key vulnerability in certain older models of our My Passport product. In 2014, we made available a software update on our website (software update; knowledgebase article), and we continue reviewing the recent report. It’s important to note that our newer models are not affected, though we have now refreshed our support around this issue.

Customers can learn more through our Customer Service and Support team at and on our WD Community page. We encourage all security researchers to responsibly report potential security vulnerabilities or concerns to WD Customer Service and Support.”

If you have an older WD portable external hard drive, please update your drive to protect your data.

Source: PCWorld, WD

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