DatAshur rugged secure USB flash drive
The level of protection and the cost of these drives is above and beyond the needs of a great many users. However, for those for whom data security is of prime importance who have files or data which must be protected and yet must be moved around could well consider that these drives provide the ideal solution.
The drives are relatively large being 95 x 25 x 13mm including the protective sleeve and weigh about 50g. They feel very solid and have been designed to be crush resistant. The keypad and status LEDs are along one side and are enclosed once the protective sleeve is in place. A rubber “O” ring seal on its body mates with the sleeve so that, when the sleeve is in place, the drive is protected from water or dust ingress in order to meet the Ingress Protection IP57 standard. This relates to protection from dust, that would interfere with the operation of the unit, and protection from immersion.
Each drive incorporates its own rechargeable battery, requires no software or drivers, is platform independent, and employs AES 256-bit hardware encryption and has been designed to be tamper-proof so that if the incorrect PIN has been entered a pre-set number times in succession, all data will be lost. This provides protection from Brute Force Attacks in which a massive number of PIN possibilities are systematically attempted with the aim of accessing the drive.
When used for the first time, the internal rechargeable battery of the datAshur may need to be charged so it is recommended that it is inserted into a powered USB port for up to 80 minutes. This is explained in the “Battery Note” in the Quick Start Guide. Then, under the heading, “First Time Use” it states that before the drive can be used it is necessary to set up an Admin PIN which can then be used to access the drive or to set up any of the Admin functions of the drive as well as allowing access to the drive and the User Manual which is provided on the stick itself.
Both the User Manual and the QS Guide also show how a second PIN, a User PIN, can be set up and changed. Importantly, the former also covers admin functions such as setting read/write or read-only modes and the unattended auto-lock feature that automatically locks the drive if it has not been accessed for a predetermined period.
A further facility in the Admin mode is the ability to set a “last-resort” PIN which, when used, will automatically securely erase the data. It does this by using a crypto-erase process whereby the existing data encryption key is deleted and so rendering it impossible to decrypt the data. This obviates the need for the normal time-consuming multi-pass over-write method. There is also the facility to carry out a full reset which erases the encryption keys and PINs and so destroys all the data and leaves the drive in the factory default status and will need reformatting before use. A typical use of this is when someone leaves the organisation and the drive is passed on to someone else.
Despite the high level of security provided, it is easy to use. Plug it into a USB port in its “locked” state and it won’t be “seen” by the PC. What one must do, before plugging it in, is to press the “key” button on the flash drive and then, within 10 seconds, input the PIN code, and then press the “key” button again. As long as the drive is inserted within a further 30 seconds, it will then be recognised. When the drive is removed, or the computer is rebooted or power is removed from the USB port, the drive reverts to its “safe” protected mode and would need to be unlocked again before it can be accessed. Hence, it can be seen that it is easy to use even though the instructions could have been made easier to understand.
As the datAshur SSD USB 3.0 drive are solidly built and meet the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) they are designed and built to professional standards and so will meet the needs of those to whom data security is a key issue and need the performance of these devices and can justify the cost. Prices, which range from £190 for the 32GB unit to £360 for the 240GB module, will see high to many but a small price to pay for those with critical data.
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