Tags: secure | Flash | Drive | data

Newest Secure Flash Drive Really Keeps Data From Prying Eyes

Monday, 19 March 2012 08:32 AM Current | Bio | Archive

There are an awful lot of people who need — or want — absolute security when it comes to computer data.

Bankers, financial advisers, money managers, insurance advisers, lawyers, accountants, doctors — to name but a few. Clients of such professionals also expect that their trusted advisers will keep their confidential data protected.

Ask yourself a simple question. How can I keep my laundry list of passwords and codes confidential?

You have the right to be afraid that the most intimate details of your personal or financial life — and virtually anything else you would like to keep from public exposure or used in evil ways — can be accessed right off your own computer, laptop or flash drive.

Any piece of computer equipment — or anything with a USB port, which uses even a scintilla of software as part of its security system — can be hacked.

By far, most information stolen or lost is from your own laptop or from the flash drive you use to keep data off your laptop.

Any number of my clients are concerned about taking necessary data off their secure computer system and then using it in some other location. Quite a few are afraid that somebody (even airport security) will get their laptop, iPad or other tablet (or their flash drive) and their information will be taken.

It is not an unreasonable fear. In one case, the U.S. government seized a laptop, kept it for 49 days, and then gave it back and never charged anyone or even asserted that they had probable cause to take it in the first place.

What they did with the data is not known.

You can claim that you have rights under the Constitution. But the Fourth Amendment protects you only after you get to court.

Otherwise, you have no upfront data protection from government, thieves, competitors, and vindictive, computer-hacker thrill-seekers. That is, unless you keep all data off your laptop and keep the data on a flash drive that is impenetrable.

Is there such a flash dive? One that has security levels that cannot be cracked?

From all my research, if there were such a device it would require that it has no software that would leave even a sliver of a chance of being breached.

There seems to be two choices, according to the experts. IronKey, which has been the gold standard, is now competing with the new LOK-IT, which seems to a non-expert like me to be even better.

Although millions of USB flash drives — referred as UFDs — are used every day for data backup, data transfer, and data storage, the professional IT guys still do not like them. They are concerned about the potential for information leaks. I understand the Department of Defense has previously banned the use of UFDs altogether.

IronKey, like its competitors, uses hardware that encrypts the data. But the difference between it and its usual competitors is that it goes one step further to achieve Level Three criteria of the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) — which means it is difficult to physically tamper with the drive.

The IronKey components are sheathed in a metal casing and the internal components are sealed to prevent tampering. The IronKey is inserted into a USB port, then the user authenticates a password and then the whole thing works.

The IronKey provides optional online back-up so that your passwords can be restored in the event you forget them. Updates by a monthly service are received online. And it is waterproof.

The LOK-IT has FIPs Level Three approval but the flash drive works differently. The flash drive is unlocked first by using a number pad on the device itself. Once unlocked, it is then inserted into the USB port. At no time, LOK-IT says, is the drive or its contents exposed and thereby vulnerable to being hacked. The device does not connect to the internet and so it has no access to the outside world and the outside world has no access to LOK-IT.

It doesn't come with a password manager, secure browser, or any other security software. It is a fully independent platform and uses no software or drivers of its own. There are neither back-ups possible on-line, nor monthly updates.

The internal components are potted in epoxy and any physical attack wipes out the data. The outer shell is epoxy as well. It is water-proof to one meter.

If you are dealing with confidential data as I am, then you should use the most secure flash drive to keep your or your clients precious data secure from prying eyes.

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Monday, 19 March 2012 08:32 AM
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