Seagate To Use IBM Blockchain To Identify Fake Hard Drives

Seagate to use IBM blockchain to identify fake hard drives

Seagate is one of the biggest companies when it comes to data storage, marking its presence all over the world. With enormous expansion comes various problems, and Seagate's greatest challenge is counterfeit products.

The presence of these fake hard disks on mainstream e-commerce platforms is something they cannot control, but their problem doesn't end here. There is something called the reverse supply chain, which exists because of customers returning defective products. The storage giant is unknowingly accepting many counterfeits back into its own supply. This fake hard drive business is valued at about $100 billion.

To overcome this shortfall, Seagate is closely working with IBM's blockchain since the past two months.“We found a unique way of tying the physical product to the virtual world, through the blockchain,” says Seagate managing technologist Manuel Offenberg, who is overseeing the project. “We think that’s where some of the novelty is, where we really can go from a physical product to the virtual blockchain world.”

According to the announcement, "To verify product authenticity, Seagate will update the IBM Blockchain Platform on the IBM Cloud with product authentication data based on the Seagate Secure™ Electronic ID (eID) at the point of manufacture. Each unique identifier (serving as an electronic fingerprint) can be used to verify the identity of a hard drive at any time during its product life cycle. Seagate’s Certified Erase employs cryptographic erasure technology to produce a digital certificate of data purge, which is electronically signed by the device under the Seagate Secure public key infrastructure (PKI) and stored on the blockchain for compliance management with emerging global data privacy laws."

The relationship between the two tech giants is not at all something new since Seagate has been supplying IBM with storage solutions as back as 2009 with the two companies finalizing their latest project back in June.
Seagate Logo

Since the companies supply chain consists of a massive number of middlemen, Offenburg thinks that IBM's blockchain will help the process of maintaining multiple databases easier. Also, Offenberg says some steps such as the process of actually checking a product is authentic are replicated by IBM, Seagate, and other counterparties, and could be reduced to a single action.

Seagate is, however, not relying only on the blockchain and will adopt other security features such as integrating electronic ID's (EID's) during the manufacturing process which will help identify each piece of hardware uniquely.

Speaking to Forbes Magazine Mr. Manuel Offenberg, Managing Technologist of Seagate, said, “Based on the information in the blockchain, we can also quickly verify the provenance of the device, in which case, we could cut out several step. The proof of concept will tell us more succinctly which steps can be removed.”

Forbes magzine article also qutoes, IBM global managing director of the electronics industry and head of strategy, Bruce Anderson, stating "The Cupertino based company plans to do a test run internally. Initially, the application will be used between Seagate and IBM as we use it inside of our own server production operations. We see that solving the counterfeiting problem as a customer of Seagate is definitely worth it. We also see this at an industry level that others are going to be asking about.”

This gives IBM a closer look into Seagate's supply chain process enabling them to end the problem altogether.

Though, this is just the beginning of the project and will likely take some time since both the companies have to tie up and integrate their teams. According to a controversial Bloomberg report, poorly managed supply chain might be the cause why China was able to infiltrate top US companies such as Amazon and Apple.

When asked about the same, Anderson declined to comment, while adding "We are looking at the bigger picture."

PC: Pablo, Unsplash

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Anurag Chawake Opinions expressed by techsutram contributors are their own. More details

I am an Engineering Student with a keen interest in Blockchain, Cloud Computing, AI, ML and related startups. I am currently working with Techsutram as a Writer/Intern.

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