Intel Discovers SandForce SF-2281 Controller Can't Do AES-256 Encryption, Offers Return Programby Anand Lal Shimpi on June 11, 2012 4:50 PM EST
Although SandForce's SF-2281 controller has been shipping for well over a year at this point, it took Intel to discover a bug in the controller that prevents it from properly supporting AES-256 encryption. The bug is at the controller level and can't be fixed with a firmware update. AES-128 encryption works perfectly fine as does the drive's standard, un-encrypted operation mode. If you have an Intel SSD 520 and need AES-256 support, Intel has introduced a return program. If you purchased your 520 on or before July 1, 2012 you can contact Intel for a full refund of purchase price. You have to complete the request by October 1, 2012. If you want a Cherryville/SF-2281 drive with proper AES-256 support you'll have to wait a few months for a new spin of the controller it seems.
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shatteredstone - Monday, June 11, 2012 - linkAES-256 has been broken to below AES-128-level security (they are at approximately 2^100 complexity with -256 and still closer to ^128 with -128 IIRC)
https://cryptolux.org/FAQ_on_the_attacks has some high level answers. The point being that anybody worried about their security after this screwup by Sandforce was not doing their job before (or is bound by needless bureaucracy which is not informed by facts).
AllYourBaseAreBelong2Us - Monday, June 11, 2012 - linkThe AES-256 weakness is within the key-scheduler but, you would still need 2^100 encryptions which is impractical with current computational power. Increasing the number of rounds would fix the problem.
ekon - Monday, June 11, 2012 - linkThere are problems with the full drive encryption for Intel's other SSDs well. I found the feature very appealing at first glance, but my pre-purchase research indicated it was extremely poorly documented and supported, with multiple deal-breaking limitations (e.g. may not work with the interface in AHCI mode, no guarantee you'll have a way to access the data on a different system due to fragmented support for ATA passwords, etc.).
Unlike software such as TrueCrypt, it seems only a rare few attempt to use the FDE on SSDs, so the issues barely come to light. Here's one of the few discussions that delves into it:
bobbozzo - Monday, June 11, 2012 - linkI've got a Kingston SSD with FDE, and their documentation doesn't explain how to move the drive to a different computer. Also it seems they've stopped selling FDE drives.
Anyways, I called them, and the tech talked to an engineer or someone else who then explained how to turn off the encryption in the bios and move the drive, and turn it back on.
No data was lost, but it makes me wonder where the encryption is happening if it can be disabled without re-writing the drive.
Before buying it, I was originally told by Kingston marketing that changing the password would wipe the drive.
Beenthere - Monday, June 11, 2012 - linkSome like to harp (or believe) that Intel's products have better valadation than the competition and thus are more compatible/reliable but history continues to show this has simply not been the case in CPUs or SSDs.
BSMonitor - Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - linkUmmm, they do. This proves it. ALL SF-2281 have this AES-256 issue. Intel is just the first to find it and offer a refund for users who need that.
EPIC FAIL on the Intel slam.
etamin - Monday, June 11, 2012 - linkSo this bug is present in all sf-2281 devices? ...and only Intel is doing something about it?
piroroadkill - Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - linkI'm going to guess the bug is present in all of them, but Intel is doing something, yup.
BSMonitor - Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - linkRead the article. It is a SF-2281controller issue.
ComputerNovice22 - Monday, June 11, 2012 - linkTo say that Intel isn't worth the extra cash over say a "cheaper brand" because they didn't catch this sooner...Is a bit silly to say the least, quite honestly I'd wonder why OCZ still hadn't found this issue or any of the other Sandforce sellers like Kingston,Corsair,Mushkin and others ... The other point I'd like to bring up is Intel was the only ones selling the Sandforce 2281 controllers that didn't suffer from random BSOD's issues so I'd beg to differ about Intel not being worth a little extra cash.