Revolutionizing Data Recovery in a World of Data Encryption

Thursday, February 13, 2014 by Krzysztof Jendrzok

The data world is constantly evolving, but over the recent years, I’ve noticed the changes becoming more apparent. Within the past year, it seems like data security has been brought to the forefront of everyone’s mind at least once a month.  Home users and businesses alike are increasing their use of data encryption in order to keep their data safe.  Let’s face it, we live in a world where Twitter users average over 100,000 tweets per minute, Google searches are occurring at 2 million queries per minute and the number of Facebook users equal the population of the third largest country in the world! We are creating data at an alarming rate, and hopefully taking steps to protect it.

Encryption is a process that has been around for quite some time and has long been used by militaries and governments to facilitate secret communications. Simply put, it’s the process of making readable data unreadable. Today, it is commonly used among companies. For those of you with a company issued laptop that has a mandatory password or timer, it’s possible that you are adhering to an enforced encryption policy that protects your organization’s data whenever you log in. Believe it or not, certain types of cellphones even use encryption when you assign a passcode to them and there’s a reason your data is completely wiped after 10 failed attempts! Data protection is a serious issue and encryption has almost become a way of life not only for companies, but even for personal users who increasingly value data protection.

The number of encrypted hard drives in use has steadily risen alongside an increase in cyber security threats that can expose critical personal and business information. Kroll Ontrack, for example, has seen the amount of recovery projects that involve encrypted hard drives more than double since 2009. Now, you might find it slightly ironic that Ontrack is able to recover from drives that are encrypted. Let me be the first to say that this isn’t a process of jailbreaking nor can we extract passwords We’re the good guys, remember? With the significant increase in encrypted drives coming to Ontrack, our genius group of engineers was recently tasked to come up with a solution to dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to recover data from encrypted hard drives with a logical or physical failure. Now anyone that recovers data from encrypted drives knows that this is a delicate and cumbersome process. Frequently, the time entailed can determine how much data you can extract off a drive. The challenge was thrown to our engineers because quite simply, we want to rescue as much data as possible and get it back to our customers as quickly as possible (downtime is accumulating losses after all).

As a Product Owner, I’m not entirely unfamiliar with the notion of being overwhelmed when my development team shows me something ground breaking. However, when they demonstrated that the new technology they had developed would literally cut days to hours, I’ll admit even I was a little skeptical. Of course, as engineers like to do, they showed me precisely how it works and low and behold, they had produced something revolutionary. They demonstrated how this new technology allows them to target only areas of the hard drive that have been used while also automating the decryption process – improving not only the typical industry recovery turn time dramatically, but also the success rate of our recoveries. Groundbreaking? You bet!

Product Managers are driven by numbers and trends so needless to say, I’ll be closely observing how much of an impact this has on the many encrypted drives we serve today. Based on what I’ve seen though, I can only imagine how much of an impact this will have for the many customers we serve globally every day. In our evolution to an encrypted world, isn’t it good to know the data recovery process is also evolving?

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