USB drives are super-convenient for transporting your files and documents between computers. Unfortunately, their small size means they are easily lost. If you carry sensitive information on your USB drive, the prospect of a lost USB can keep you up at night. Fortunately, there are secure USB drives on the market you can use to protect your data.
Why Do I Need a Secure USB Drive?
Almost everyone has the needs to transfer files from one computer to another at some point. Thankfully, a USB drive can make this process quick and easy, not to mention that they are inexpensive and barely take up any space. That being said, USB drives are not very secure. All someone needs to do is plug your USB into any computer, and your files are laid bare for them to access. This is where secure USB drives are useful. They have built-in security features to prevent unauthorized access to the sensitive information you store on your USB.
One method used to keep your files secure is through encryption. Encryption scrambles the data, making it unreadable to prying eyes. Modern secure USB drives almost always employ 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) data encryption. Another method takes the form of physical locks that must be bypassed in order to even use the drive. This often comes in the form of a keypad or even a biometric scanner built in to the USB drive itself.
1. Aegis Secure Key 3.0
The Aegis Secure Key 3.0 claims that it is “built tough from the inside out,” and they are not kidding. The Aegis Secure Key boasts an IP68 rating, meaning it can take a beating from the elements. On the data encryption side of things, the Secure Key relies on 100 percent hardware-based 256-bit AES and a built-in keypad for PIN authentication.
Using the Aegis Secure Key requires users to unlock the drive with a 7- to 16-digit PIN before connecting the USB drive to their computer. Failure to enter the PIN will lock the device, rendering it unreadable. Furthermore, because the PIN is entered on the keypad of the USB drive itself and not via the keyboard of the computer, there is no chance your PIN number can be retrieved through keylogging software that may be installed on your computer.
Additionally, the Aegis Secure Key USB drive also protects your data against brute force attempts to access the drive. If a PIN number is incorrectly entered a predetermined number of times, a protocol called Crypto-Erase is enacted. In this case, the device will delete its own encryption key, thereby destroying the ability to decrypt the data.
2. Kingston IronKey D300
The Kingston IronKey D300 is so secure that NATO has awarded it “restricted level certification.” This means that NATO is comfortable with its staff using the IronKey D300 to transport sensitive information. In addition, the IronKey is FIPS 140-2 certified with hardware-based 256-bit AES encryption, making it US government-approved. The USB itself is made with a zinc alloy, making it rugged enough to be submersible in water up to four feet and to withstand temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius (-4 F).
The IronKey D300 also comes with a virtual keyboard. This means that when you plug in the USB, a keyboard appears onscreen. To unlock the USB and access the data, you must enter the PIN with your mouse via the virtual keyboard. This ensures that any potential keylogging software on the PC won’t be able to record the passcode for the USB drive. All encryption and decryption of the data is done on the drive itself. This means there is no trace of the USB or its contents left on the PC itself. Finally, the IronKey reformats itself after 10 consecutive failed attempts at unlocking the device.
3. Datalocker DL3
Need more storage space? The DL3 from Datalocker is an external hard drive that boasts state-of-the-art security measures. First, the drive utilizes 256-bit AES hardware encryption. In addition, the DL3 has an integrated backlit keypad used to input a unique alphanumeric PIN to unlock the device. In an effort to make the device even more secure, the keypad randomly rotates the keys. This prevents anyone from determining the PIN based on fingerprints or pattern recognition. For additional piece of mind, the DL3 has a self-destruct feature that wipes all data from the drive if too many unsuccessful PIN combinations are entered.
The DL3 is a plug-and-play device, meaning there is no software or drivers needed. All device and admin management is done through the built-in keypad screen. Therefore, users don’t have to worry about any potential security concerns with the host PC.
The Datalocker DL3 can also be locked as “Read-only” by an administrator. This means that users can access the data on the drive but cannot change or delete any of the files. The Datalocker DL3 is available in a variety of storage capacities, starting at 500GB and into the multiple terabytes.
4. Verbatim Store’n’Go Secure
If the price of the Datalocker DL3 has you questioning whether you really need an encrypted hard drive, you may want to consider the Verbatim Store’n’Go Secure. Like the DL3, the Verbatim Store’n’Go Secure is a 2.5-inch portable hard drive that boasts 256-bit AES hardware encryption and features an integrated keypad for PIN locking and unlocking the device. The drive also features a self-destruct option that wipes all of the data after numerous failed entry attempts.
Furthermore, the Verbatim Store’n’Go makes use of USB-C to ensure fast performance. Most importantly, the Store’n’Go Secure is very affordable when compared to other secure storage devices. At the time of this writing, the 1TB model is available for about $120, significantly cheaper than others with similar features.