One of the biggest concerns in the computer industry today is data security. Every few weeks, you hear about an employee at some company losing a laptop containing confidential information about its employees or customers. Drive encryption has been a popular solution to this problem. Without the correct key or password, the data can't be accessed by potential data thieves, even if the hard drive is moved to another computer.

While hard drive encryption may let laptop owners sleep a little more soundly at night, those that backup their data to CD or DVD still run the risk of data theft. When burned to disc, the files are usually not encrypted. If left out in the open or not disposed of correctly, a disc, and the data on it, could land in the hands of criminals.

LG Electronics and Nero are trying to tackle this problem with their new SecurDisc technology. Unveiled at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, SecurDisc protects data on optical media at both the user and storage levels. At the user level, it uses password protection and AES-128 encryption to prevent unauthorized access. While this concept is nothing new, SecurDisc adds an extra layer of security by utilizing a hardware and software-based solution. To prevent modification, a digital signature can be applied to data so that its authenticity can be verified.

At the storage level, SecurDisc uses checksums to verify data integrity and readability. Using this feature, you can check to see if your data has been altered due to the physical decay of the media. SecurDisc also increases reliability through a redundancy-based defect management system. By fully utilizing the empty space on a disc, the technology can greatly increase your chances of reading a damaged disc.

In future versions of Nero, SecurDisc will also let you copy protect PDF files. In order to view a copy protected PDF, you'll need a special application called SecurDisc Viewer and a SecurDisc ready drive. Copy protected PDF's can only be read from the original DVD and cannot be copied to other media without the correct duplication password.

At CES, LG unveiled their first SecurDisc ready drives, the GSA-H55N and GSA-H55L. Both of these "Super-Multi" drives feature 20x DVD±R, 10x DVD±R DL and 12x DVD-RAM writing speeds and, in the case of the GSA-H55L, support for HP's LightScribe Direct Disc Labeling system. While these drives won't ship in the US until May, LG was nice enough to send one over for us to evaluate.

Take note of the SecurDisc logo on the drive's tray. According to Nero, only SecurDisc certified hardware will carry this logo. While LG's new drives are currently the only ones to be certified, Nero plans to build a logo certification program so that other software and hardware vendors can take advantage of the technology.

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