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Windows 10’s BitLocker Encryption No Longer Trusts Your SSD

BitLocker drive icon on a Windows 10 desktop.

Many consumer SSDs claim to support encryption and BitLocker believed them. But, as we learned last year, those drives often weren’t securely encrypting files. Microsoft just changed Windows 10 to stop trusting those sketchy SSDs and default to software encryption.

In summary, solid-state drives and other hard drives can claim to be “self-encrypting.” If they do, BitLocker wouldn’t perform any encryption, even if you enabled BitLocker manually. In theory, that was good: The drive could perform the encryption itself at the firmware level, speeding up the process, reducing CPU usage, and maybe saving some power. In reality, it was bad: Many drives had empty master passwords and other horrendous security failures. We learned consumer SSDs can’t be trusted to implement encryption.

Now, Microsoft has changed things. By default, BitLocker will ignore drives that claim to be self-encrypting and do the encryption work in software. Even if you have a drive that claims to support encryption, BitLocker won’t believe it.

This change arrived in Windows 10’s KB4516071 update, released on September 24, 2019. It was spotted by SwiftOnSecurity on Twitter:

Existing systems with BitLocker won’t be automatically migrated and will continue using hardware encryption if they were originally set up that way. If you already have BitLocker encryption enabled on your system, you must decrypt the drive and then encrypt it once again to ensure BitLocker is using software encryption rather than hardware encryption. This Microsoft security bulletin includes a command you can use to check whether your system is using hardware or software-based encryption.

As SwiftOnSecurity notes, modern CPUs can handle performing these actions in software and you shouldn’t see a noticeable slowdown when BitLocker switches to software-based encryption.

BitLocker can still trust hardware encryption, if you like. That option is just disabled by default. For enterprises that have drives with firmware they trust, the “Configure use of hardware-based encryption for fixed data drives” option under Computer ConfigurationAdministrative TemplatesWindows ComponentsBitLocker Drive EncryptionFixed Data Drives in Group Policy will let them reactivate the use of hardware-based encryption. Everyone else should leave it alone.

Option to enable or disable hardware-based encryption for BitLocker in Windows 10 Group Policy.

It’s a shame Microsoft and the rest of us can’t trust disk manufacturers. But it makes sense: Sure, your laptop might be made by Dell, HP, or even Microsoft itself. But do you know what drive is in that laptop and who manufactured it? Do you trust that drive’s manufacturer to handle encryption securely and issue updates if there’s a problem? As we’ve learned, you probably shouldn’t. Now, Windows won’t either.

RELATED: You Can’t Trust BitLocker to Encrypt Your SSD on Windows 10

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What Gemstone Was Originally, But No Longer, Considered Precious?

A large sample of amethyst, uncut and in its natural crystalline form
JJ Harrison/Wikipedia

Answer: Amethyst

Many a museum-goer over the years has been puzzled over the inclusion of amethyst in royal and religious artifacts. Why would the artisans of past ages have included amethyst in so many of their creations when it’s such a cheap and abundant stone, merely quartz with a purple hue?

Historically, amethyst wasn’t cheap and abundant, however, and was considered one of the cardinal, or precious, gemstones right along with diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, and rubies. That all changed in the 18th century when enormous deposits of amethyst were discovered in Brazil. The discovery permanently demoted amethyst to the rank of semi-precious where it has sat ever since with gemstones like topaz and tourmaline.

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SiriusXM Essential Means You No Longer Need a Car

SiriusXM has launched a new streaming subscription package called SiriusXM Essential. While SiriusXM is best known for offering satellite radio in your car, Essential is just for streaming, meaning you no longer need to own a car to listen to SiriusXM.

SiriusXM Launches SiriusXM Essential

SiriusXM has launched Sirius XM Essential citing the fact that “approximately two-thirds of people in the U.S. (ages 12+) stream their audio entertainment”. SiriusXM has essentially realized it needs to start catering to people who don’t listen in their cars.

Essential is “for people who want to listen on a mobile phone, tablet, desktop, and on connected devices in the home including devices with Amazon Alexa, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, Sonos speakers, Xbox, Sony PlayStation and more”.

What Do You Get With SiriusXM Essential?

Essential gets you 200+ music channels, 100 SiriusXM Xtra channels, several sports talk channels, plus an “array of entertainment, news and comedy programming choices.” However, there’s no Howard Stern, or the NBA, NHL, and NCAA channels.

In the press release introducing SiriusXM Essential, SiriusXM’s Matt Epstein said:

“We’ve now created the Essential subscription as an appealing option for the many people, particularly younger consumers, who don’t have a car or don’t spend a lot of time in their car. The Essential package offers an attractive bundle of content at a competitively low price among streaming services.”

SiriusXM Essential costs $8/month, but you can try it first for $1/month for three months.

Streaming Is the Future of Everything

This is a good move by SiriusXM. All signs point to streaming being the future of, well, everything. So while there will still be people listening in their cars, offering access to streamers for a reduced price makes absolute sense.

In addition to launching its Essential subscription package, SiriusXM has wasted no time in making use of its acquisition of Pandora. So people only interested in podcasts can now listen to SiriusXM shows on Pandora

You Can Now Listen to SiriusXM Shows on Pandora

You Can Now Listen to SiriusXM Shows on Pandora

Pandora users are gaining access to some of SiriusXM’s most popular talk shows, all of which will be available as podcasts.
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without the need to pay a penny.

Explore more about: Media Streaming, SiriusXM, Streaming Music.

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