How do you protect your personal digital data especially when on the move? You might rely on a system that includes encryption, passwords and backups. While there is nothing wrong with this type of approach, it does rely on the human element especially with regards to remembering those all-important passwords and the task to which each one relates. If, like me, your memory is not all that it should be, then you might like to consider using technology to help in this matter. SCM Microsystems, a company well versed in the field of PC security, believes it can offer a solution as part of its CHIPDRIVE product range. Admittedly this solution was developed for the business user but there is nothing to stop the ordinary consumer putting it to good use.
Recently I have been looking at the company's Secure Stick solution which consists of a USB stick; Masterkey card with 24KB of flash memory; and various items of software. By removing the detachable front cover of the USB stick you can insert the supplied Masterkey card once you realise it needs to be slotted into the cover rather than just placed inside. However before insert the stick into a USB port you will need to install the software that comes with the device.
The software is made up of various drivers and the CHIPDRIVE Smartcard Office suite. Forming this suite are elements dealing with secure logon; a password manager; disk encryption; form filler; address book (although this does relate to bookmarked Internet URLs rather than your personal contact details); and a notepad. The relevant data is stored on the Secure Stick.
You can cherry-pick from the various components before selecting the hardware driver from a list of supported devices. This list uses images to help decide which one is relevant for your purpose. You can also choose whether to include the software as part of your start-up routine and have icons displayed on the desktop or Quick Launch tray. After a system restart you will be advised to insert the Secure Stick into a USB port so that you have access to the various features of this product.
Passwords can be saved automatically to the Secure Stick or when requested as they are entered during a live session. Saved passwords can be designated to be used automatically or when requested. A further option allows you to transfer passwords from one device to another using the clipboard.
With the CHIPDRIVE encryption feature you can create an encrypted section on a hard drive using a slider to adjust the size. This drive can be designated for your sole use or shared with others.
The Form Fill utility requires profiles to be created for individual users. As with the passwords, this data can be set to be entered automatically into online forms or only at the user's request. An option is available to limit this feature to avoid forms that have less than a user-defined number of fields.
As mentioned earlier the Address Book relates to Internet URL bookmarks. These can be imported from a supported browser which covers Internet Explorer, Firefox and Mozilla.
The CHIPDRIVE Notepad allows you to create brief notes which will be encrypted and stored on the USB device. This feature has support for copy & paste with notes stored in a hierarchical tree structure. A basic search feature is included. Any data stored on the Secure Stick can be backed up to a hard drive or other connected media.
Using this device and related software should protect your personal data with the minimal of effort on the part of the user by the simply method of removing the Secure Stick, As yet the product lack support for Vista and would benefit from improved printed documentation which, currently, is limited to a few lines on the packaging. System requirements are Windows 2000/XP with 64MB of RAM and 55MB of hard disk space. Pricing has been set at £35 which might seem a lot until you realise the value of the data being protected.
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