Flexxon is a Singapore company founded in 2007 to design, manufacture, and retail industrial NAND flash storage and memory devices. In 2021, Flexxon launched X-PHY, the world’s first SSD embedded with AI data security. The X-PHY features patented artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies capable of identifying and guarding against both known and unknown threats. Positioned at the closest proximity to the user’s critical data, the X-PHY SSD acts as the last line of defence, and boasts the fastest response time to defend against security breaches before they occur.
Flexxon reached out to me for a review of their upcoming X-PHY laptop. Based on Lenovo’s Thinkpad series, these laptops are pre-installed with Flexxon’s AI-embedded SSDs – known as the X-PHY cybersecure SSD. The X-PHY uses AI and machine learning capabilities to actively monitor and extinguish threats direct to the device’s hardware. According to Flexxon, this is the first-of-its-kind for consumer laptops, and will provide greater protection for users on top of traditional anti-virus software.
This may sound very techie, but actually, the implementation is simple: these X-PHY cyber-secure storage devices have special hardware to detect specific suspicious activities and block any further access to the storage itself. No software involved. Once locked, the only way to unlock is using your mobile device paired via Bluetooth to the X-PHY storage device and unlocked via 2FA.
To set up the X-PHY features, run the pre-install X-PHY tool and go through several layers of authentication setup, including providing email address and installing software authenticator. Once done, you will be able to enable the following security features:
- Ransomware – once enabled, X-PHY will detect and shutdown the laptop within a few seconds and lock the SSD.
- Cloning – it will detect sector-by-sector cloning, shutdown the laptop, and lock the SSD.
- Temperature – when the temperature is outside the threshold, the laptop shuts down and the SSD is locked.
- Physical – when the SSD sensor detects that it is being removed from the laptop, the SSD gets locked.
- Ambient – when light sensor detects the laptop case is being opened, the SSD is locked.
- Email Alert – receive email notification when security issues are detected
- Wipe Data – this is a CIA/MI6 spy situation. Basically, when physical tampering is detected, the entire SSD data is wiped out. Serious business.
When the SSD is locked, the laptop will load the boot menu. The SSD cannot be accessed.
To unlock, you need to install the X-PHY app on the smartphone, create the same login credentials as your X-PHY authentication, and then go to BLE Connection page to pair to the SSD that you want to unlock. This pairing must be done every time prior to unlock. The smartphone does not pair to the SSD permanently, unlike wireless headphones or smartwatches.
Before unlock, the app will ask for 2FA from your email OTP as well as the software authenticator OTP.
Once unlock is successful, reboot the laptop and you will be able to load Windows normally again.
The X-PHY software keeps track of the security events on the SSD with time stamp.
The X-PHY Cyber Secure solution protects the storage data with a few specific scenarios. Any other security issues will not be covered, for instance, malware, trojan attacks, phishing. Hence, a separate anti-virus software should still be installed to protect the laptop operations. Also, the X-PHY solution would be helpless against laptop theft – as long as the SSD is not tampered, the contents can still be accessed if the laptop login is not secure.
I tried all the scenarios and the X-PHY SSD is able to block all the simulated attacks. All the technology is embedded within the SSD itself, and the protection is on the SSD, not the laptop. This means you can use the X-PHY SSD on any computer and receive the same protection. The X-PHY is probably the best defence against physical thefts since it is impossible to even gain access to the contents without unlocking via 2FA as described above.
The X-PHY SSD and laptops are available as pre-orders on their Online Store. If you are handling sensitive data and needs hardware-level data protection, the X-PHY solution could be worth checking out. You do not need to be a cyber-security geek to prevent data theft through ransomware and physical tampering.