Monday, February 17th 2020

Quick Look: Hawk Security S-Drive

Continuing our quick look series, this time we cover a product that came to us after our article on portable encrypted storage was published. That very article came about from two companies asking us if we would be interested in checking out their products, and when a startup company formed by Russians who specialize in data protection and embedded security asks you the same, you answer yes! Hawk Security was set up in 2018, and is actually based out of Hong Kong now, and offers data encryption solutions with military-grade encryption standards. They sent out their S-Drive, a portable solution with a 3D NAND-based memory and certification galore, with performance and privacy as the selling point.

The Hawk Security S-Drive ships in a thick cardboard box with a two-piece packaging, with aptly named security seals on the sides. The inner box slides out to reveal a premium unboxing experience with thick foam cut to shape, which in turn houses the user manual, the drive, and the connecting cable itself. The manual is handy for not only knowing the locking and unlocking procedures for this encrypted drive, but also the default password for using it the first time. The cable terminates in a standard USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A connector on one end, but a 10-pin USB 3.1 Gen 1 Micro Type B super-speed connector on the other to help make the most of connection speeds. This means backwards compatibility with USB 2.0 ports is restricted to USB ports/hubs that provide enough power only, so keep that in mind. Read past the break for more on the drive.

The Hawk Security S-Drive is quite compact at 84 x 40 x 10 mm, and weights under 40 grams. This is due to the adoption of 3D NAND memory paired to an M.2 form factor inside a stainless steel enclosure, which gets a brushed gunmetal finish with the company logo on the bottom of the keypad and indicator LEDs up top. The two sides have a removable plastic end cap with a shiny trim, with the super-speed Micro Type B port seen here and the cable fits in snugly.
There are two countersunk Phillips-head screws on the end caps, removing which provides access to the hardware inside the steel enclosure. There are guides that run the length of the enclosure which the PCB slides into, and we see that the keypad is part of this with a copper shielding and epoxy resin over the board. The company uses Micron 3D TLC NAND RAM modules to fit the storage size you desire, and has a HS101INITIO3637 chip for encryption that appears to be a Hawk Security-only module. The epoxy does result in a heat transfer barrier, which we will get into shortly again.
This is a number pad-based encryption device, and not alphanumeric which would have been nice to see. Either way, locking and unlocking the device is as simple as choosing the desired pin between 3-12 digits in length without only repetitive or consecutive numbers. The LEDs on the device help provide a visual indicator of the current status of the device, with them flashing or changing color as outlined in the manual that I definitely recommend reading. Encryption is thus without the need of any software drivers, is FIPS 140-2 Level 3 certified to satisfy all the IT admins out there, and uses typical XTS AES 256bit cryptography as with this field today. The company rates compatibility of the drive with Microsoft, IOS, Android, Linux, Chrome, Thin Clients, Embedded Systems, and they also offer HawkOS, which resides on the drive as a Linux distro to be installed on your client device for more management and encryption control while also running Linux, as any security-driven personnel would opt for.
I have here the 128 GB S-Drive, which did run fairly warm at ~51-53 °C inside a room held at 22 °C. This is definitely hotter than the other drives we previously examined, and is a side effect of the epoxy resin used to secure the componentry. Hawk Security says they have tested the S-Drive in rooms hotter than 40 °C ambient, with no noticeable performance effect. Indeed, the use of 3D NAND, TLC as it may be, provides excellent read and write speeds. Of the drives tested so far, this is by far the most compact with this level of performance, especially when it comes to writing content. The drive is rated for write speeds as high as 250 Mbps, and of course this depends on the specific test procedure done.

The Hawk Security S-Drive comes in 128/256/512 GB as well as 1 and 2 TB size offerings, with prices ranging from $179 to $459 with incremental price increases quite reasonable for the storage upgrade you get once past the initial capital cost for the drive enclosure, the controller and keypad. There are functionally similar products out there, including the Kingston KC2000 we saw before, but this combination of size, speed, cost, and encryption is sure to interest people.
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6 Comments on Quick Look: Hawk Security S-Drive

#1
DeathtoGnomes
so how does this actually protect ? does the lock force a disconnect or just data encryption on the drive?
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#2
VSG
Editor, Reviews & News
DeathtoGnomes
so how does this actually protect ? does the lock force a disconnect or just data encryption on the drive?
All such drives automatically disconnect when locked.
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#3
DeathtoGnomes
VSG
All such drives automatically disconnect when locked.
so it physically disconnects, I like that.
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#4
VSG
Editor, Reviews & News
DeathtoGnomes
so it physically disconnects, I like that.
Just so there's no confusion, the USB cable is still in the USB port physically, just that the data connection itself is stopped :)
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#6
Wshlist
I wonder if they could infuse epoxy with aluminium or some such and have it become a heat sink as it were.
Would be handy for manufacturers of several types of devices.
Problem would be not having it cause a short of course, but that is why you do some research and find a way.

Not that I'm behind 'blobbing' everything though, in some devices that habit is hella annoying, you want to mod something then find it's blobbed.
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