Spectra Logic has introduced the world's first encryption-enabled tape libraries.

Encrypting data and backup tapes has become a prominent idea following well-publicised losses of backup tapes, for example, by Citigroup and Iron Mountain. Businesses can buy encryption appliances to plug into the wire between servers and tape library but this is another box to manage and another supplier to handle, possibly an amendment to backup processes too.

DISUK recently announced its £9,995 SafeTape product combining an encryption appliance with a tape drive. Various backup software products have encryption add-ons which use server CPU cycles to do the encrypting. For example, Bakbone NetVault

Spectra Logic's BlueScale encryption is at the AES-256 level, which is approved by the US government. There is a key management system so users can manage, restore and dispose of encrypted media. If encrypted tapes are lost or stolen they cannot be read (decrypted) without the right key. Encryption use should be transparent to servers, operating systems and applications.

The move was applauded by W. Curtis Preston, data protection VP at GlassHouse Technologies: "It's becoming increasingly evident that encrypting backups is a straightforward and secure way to address security issues relating to the loss of personal data and intellectual property."

Basic encryption functionality will be available in the Spectra T950 and T120 libraries in Q1 2006. Other encryption-enabled Spectra libraries will follow, along with products providing FIPS 140 compliance. Pricing for encryption starts below $5,000 (about £3,700), less than the DISUK cost above.

Existing Spectra T120 and T950 library customers can upgrade their libraries with an encryption-enabled module, or blade.