SECURE ERASING WITH THE PROTEUS PLUS
The Proteus Plus possess a Fast Secure Erase GPIO header on back of the PCB which extends through the case. This header allows pins to be shorted, though jumpers or otherwise, to erase or write protect the drive. The non-secured version still has the header, it’s just not active.
TCS has a diagram of the pinouts:
The green LED is power, the blue only activates on power cycles and during secure erases. After using any of the enhanced erases, a power cycle is required.
Pins 1-2 write protect the drive, like the slider on an old 1.44MB floppy disk. This is a handy feature to have, though it only prevents host writes. It doesn’t prevent background GC or secure erases.
Pins 3-4 are the fast erase actuators. The entire fast secure erase (FSE) procedure only takes a few seconds depending on size. Eight seconds for the 256GB according to TCS, but only two by our stopwatches, but our drive was nearly empty at the time. This sets all flash to logical zero, including bad blocks. The pins can be shorted together at any time to initiate the FSE, and when completed, a power cycle gets it back in the game.
Pins 5-6 initiate NSA/CSS Manual 9-12 erasure. After all the blocks in the drive are erased, they’re filled with ’55h’. Finally, 1% of the drive is read back to the controller to verify that there is no pattern to the data any longer. On a 256GB Proteus Plus, the operation should take in the neighborhood of 15 minutes.
Pins 7-8 activate TCC-TG IRIG 106-07 Chapter 10. This works like NSA/CSS, except after ’55h’ is written and verified, the drive is erased again and then ‘AAh’ is written to all locations and then verified. Lastly, after all that, everything gets erased one more time. All that erasing, verifying, and writing takes around 56 minutes on the 256GB.
Pins 9-10 are marked as reserved and aren’t used per se, but they actually put the drive into engineering mode. If you’ve ever had to reflash the firmware on a Barefoot drive like a Vertex, Agility, or Crucial M225, then you know what this is:
Something worth noting is the fact that when a SE is initiated, removing the power during the process doesn’t do too much. If power is removed-mid erase, it merely finishes upon being re-powered,
The Proteus Plus supports several other erasure methods through software. The hardware triggered erase methods also can be triggered by sending the appropriate commands through software.
DOD 5220.22-M, DOD 5220.22-M Sup1, NSA 130-2, ARMY AR380-19, Navy NAVSO P-5239-26, Air Force AFSSI-5020 data sanitization and destruction protocols are supported through software only, while hardware and software can activate NSA/CSS Manual 9-12 and NSA/CSS Manual 9-12 along with the good old garden-variety fast erase.