Data Storage Firm Seagate Announces Blockchain Pilot To Track HDD Supply Chain

Blockchain, News | July 31, 2019 By:

US-based data storage company Seagate will be conducting a blockchain pilot to combat counterfeit hard disk drives (HDD).

The blockchain pilot is part of the joint initiative Seagate and IBM launched in November 2018, which aims to help manufacturers, integrators, and business partners follow hard drives throughout the supply chain using IBM’s blockchain technology.

“Last year, we started a proof-of-concept [PoC] with IBM, and the proof-of-concept was about product provenance,” Seagate research group managing technologist of data security Manuel Offenberg told Forbes. “Earlier this year, we wrapped up the proof-of-concept.”

Offenberg explained that Seagate’s PoC stage expressed the effectiveness of blockchain, in sync with its products, adding that Seagate aims to prove the project’s scalability through the blockchain pilot. Seagate’s pilot with IBM will reportedly seek to give the customer confidence that the Seagate product received is the genuine product that Seagate originally sent. In the pilot, IBM will be the technology provider for the underlying Hyperledger Fabric platform and the customer of the drives.

The goal of the pilot is to ensure that HDDs returned due to defects contain no customer personal data. To make sure that HDDs have no PII [personally identifiable information] data on them, Offenberg mentioned “certified erase,” as a solution.

“When a drive fills in a customer’s system and the drive comes back as part of its returns process, if we can prove that the drive was cryptographically erased, and therefore, the information is no longer on the device, then, from a risk perspective, this reverse supply chain can treat that device differently,” Offenberg said.

Regarding Seagate’s preliminary work with IBM, Offenberg said that the data storage company is including the devices’ cryptographic identity into the blockchain “such that the digital trust of the product itself is part of the transaction.”

While Seagate is working with IBM as its customer for the pilot, Offenberg said Seagate plans to include “other partners in the reverse supply chain” with particular focus set on larger players.