Seagate's Maxtor division has introduced BlackArmor, an AES-grade encrypting storage device. It has also added secured web access software to its Shared Storage II product.

BlackArmor uses US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) certified encryption. This is the strongest commercially available data security on a portable storage product for small businesses and consumers. The device holds 160GB of data on its 2.5-inch disk drive and connects to a host system via USB 2.0. It is designed to keep its contents locked up and secure if it should be stolen or lost.

The product contains a hardware encryption engine and all keys are stored on the device, making it impenetrable to thieves. All data is encrypted before being written to the disk and decrypted for authorised access. These operations are transparent to users.

The use of products such as BlackArmor for data transfer can readily protect personal records, such as those lost by recent large scale data breaches through lost CDs.

Maxtor has also added Central Axis software to allow users to access files remotely on its network-attached Shared Storage II disk product over the web. The user enters a username/password combination into a remote access service web page and gets secured access to the content without disabling firewalls or having to set up firewall exceptions. There are no software applications or plug-ins to download to the accessing system. This is usable by business users out of their office and needing file access on, say, a laptop in an airport lounge.

This joins other online alternatives for data storage such as the EMC-purchased Mozy, used for backups, and Google and Amazon storage services. Business users who prefer to keep their data in their own storage devices will prefer a Maxtor-like access method rather than entrusting their data to online storage services such as Mozy.

These two announcements demonstrate how technology can be used both to extend access to files and simultaneously, to secure it.

BlackArmor's general availability is expected in the second quarter of this year with a recommended price around $150 (£75 at general conversion rates). Central Axis will be available in the same period as a free download for Shared Storage II customers.