This is a huge issue and needs to be addressed.
I have spoken with a data recovery company, they have said that if your WD My Book Duo which has the “AES 256 Hardware encryption” feature, if the drive enclosure dies that your data will NOT be accessible even if your hard drives are in perfect working order.
Your data may be fine and dandy on your hard drives but you can not access it. Even if you are able to find and purchase another exact WD My Book Duo and put the drives in that, it will NOT work. This is because the hardware encryption is ALWAYS used, even if you never attempt to use the WD Security app to enable “password” protection. This fact is NEVER made clear in ANY WD documentation anywhere!
I hope Western Digital can provide a way in firmware updates to either DISABLE the always on hardware encryption, or to at least give us the ability to EXPORT/SAVE the encryption KEY that the device is using to encrypt the data, and provide for us a SOFTWARE utility which will enable us to use that KEY to read our hard drives even if the “Enclosure” stops working.
Here is a similar related post that has not been responded to:
It does not help that some well respected “REVIEW” sites have done really pathetic reviews of this product which are more like infomercials saying that they observed no performance drop with encryption enabled or disabled, and of course they did not because they did not know that “encryption” was/is ALWAYS on regardless of whether they enable “security password key” or not. They assumed like most reasonable users would that encryption is enabled only when a password/key is set not that its ALWAYS encrypted whether you enable password or not.
Apparently the “password” you set has nothing to do with the encryption, it is not used for anything other than some firmware locking. This means in reality that Western Digital will be perfectly capable to decrypt ANY WD My Book and access your data even when YOU yourself will not be able to. Yes you can be locked out of your own data but the manufacturer and whoever else they may share their “Decryption KEY/s” with can access your data.
So the whole thing about if you forget your password your data can’t be accessed is a joke, its not true. Well its true that “YOU” can’t access your data but they easily could. They just won’t do it for you but if they needed/wanted they can easily bypass the firmware password and also decrypt the hardware encryption. In fact some data recovery firms can do that for you, apparently WD even officially “endorses” some of them, makes you wonder if there’s any profit sharing. It seems that perhaps WD has shared certain “knowledge” with these firms that enables them to supposedly retrieve the “Encryption Key” from the WD My Book Duo and give you back access to your data for some BIG $$$.
So again, I am asking for WD to please be upfront about these very IMPORTANT issues since there is no clear information anywhere, in fact all the documentation seems to imply that your data is only locked once you’ve set a password not all the time and with an Encryption Key that only WD has access to instead of us the users.
There is a solution to all this as I have already mentioned, either allow through a firmware update the possibility to DISABLE the hardware encryption, and/or provide us a way to Export/Save the encryption pass/key so that we can access our data even if the WD My Book enclosure dies for any reason.
Encryption is great and even better when Hardware accelerated for higher performance, but we should be the owners of the decryption Pass/Key for “our” data.