Secure USB Memory Stick – Personal Pocket Safe
The amount of data that you can store on today’s USB flash drives is really impressive. The downside is that ever more sensitive data is stored in those memory devices and they’re so tiny that they’re easily lost or forgotten. This can lead to sometimes funny or juicy, sometimes embarrassing or outright dangerous, loss and leakage of all kinds of information – from celebrity private pictures to secret company or government data. Fortunately, the new generation of USB memory sticks offers some optional security mechanisms to avoid future embarrassment.
It wouldn’t be the first time I had company price lists or personal tax information stored on a USB flash drive to use on another PC and then lost somewhere (luckily I recovered it). Or the first time I’ve come home with someone else’s USB memory stick in my pocket (I’ve collected lots of ballpoints that way, but that’s another story). This can lead to very annoying and risky situations, and you’ll never know whether or not the other guy’s had a look at your data.
Recently, I’ve seen a few USB sticks using an integrated fingerprint sensor, requiring you to present the tip of your finger before the data can be accessed. That sounds great, but I don’t want to rely on the recognition quality – it wouldn’t be the first time a sensor like that has let me down.
But I do like the secure USB flash drives where you have to input a secret code. I’m pretty confident that these will perform as advertised, given the straightforward technology. The Personal Pocket Safe, for instance, requires you to enter your 3-to-10-digit PIN code before accessing the data. The fact that you have to enter the code on the device itself and not on the computer keyboard doesn’t even give any spyware on the PC a chance to intercept the code.
It’s advertised as being tamper-proof: Intruders are locked out after three unsuccessful attempts, and if someone tries to access the internals the content is automatically destroyed. For those who risk forgetting their PIN code, there’s a PIN replacement service available.
- Secure USB flash drive
- 3–10 digit PIN code
- PIN replacement service
- Military-grade 256-bit AES encryption
- Built-in applications.
Update: since the publishing of this article, a few newer solutions have appeared on the market. A similar one that looks particularly interesting and gets excellent reviews is this16 GB Corsair padlock USB drive CMFPLA16GB
If you don’t mind a somewhat bulkier solution, there’s a similar harddisk-based product called the Aegis Padlock Secure Hard Drive from Apricorn, offering you more storage capacity in return for a higher volume. Or, though it might cost a bit more, you can find a similar solution from Lenovo, called the ThinkPad USB Portable Secure hard drive.
Other secure USB flash disks, without physical keys on the stick, are also available of course. If you don't need the highest throughput or all whistles and bells, the Hyperdrive range from Hypertec offers good value for money
Another important advise to avoid identity theft is never to dispose of data disks without destroying them, the new paper and CD shredders can take care of that for you.
You can buy the Personal Pocket Safe from the Amazon.com website . Watch out, they offer different capacities at different prices, it's worthwhile to search the site.
Approx. price: $50 (February 2010)
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