Today we received a drive from a customer with a WD Smart lock on it. The owner of this drive is unfortunately a deceased family member so the password has been lost. The drive contains precious memories of the person in the form of pictures and videos.

The drive is a USB drive and when connecting it to the PC it shows up as a CD to install the unlock software. This software will be useless to us because we don’t know the password to unlock it the normal way. The WD Smart Lock is a function of the USB controller chip embedded in the hard drive’s circuit board and integrates with the encryption functions of the drive’s internal SATA controller.

Most Usb WD drives have a sata equivalent drive which we can use the PCB from so that is our first step. We need to transfer the ROM from the USB board to the SATA board so the drive can be recognised using our tool. Once the drive has been converted to SATA, we plug it in and are prompted with a SED Drive Locked prompt asking for a password. The SED lock protocol prevents access to the drive’s firmware functions entirely so it must be removed.

The SED protocol is stored on the disk of the drive so to prevent it from starting up we can start the PCB without the drive attached and get low level access to the rom. We also know the SED protocol’s switch is stored in the ID sector of the drive’s firmware so if we change the rom so it doesn’t know where the ID sector is, the drive will initialize without the SED protocol or hard drive ID and parameters.

Once the drive is fully started without the SED lock, we can use our tool to modify the ID sector and fully disable the SED function so that we can restore the rom’s ID location and have a fully accessible drive. Since the SED function is actually for “Self Encrypting Drive”, the drive is now giving us the fully encrypted data but our utility can read the keys and decrypt the data automatically giving us fully data access.

The drive was healthy and the recovery went without errors. All files were recovered and the customer was very happy with the outcome

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