Toshiba Encrypted USB Flash Drive
With their inherent losability and potential for eye-wateringly embarrassing misplacements of important data, USB drives perhaps haven’t earned a place in history as the most pro-security items of tech. The Toshiba Encypted USB Flash Drive aims to change that by ensuring that maintaining data confidentiality is as convenient as the storage itself.
Strong AES-256 encryption
The drive features AES-256 hardware encryption which thoroughly scrambles and protects any data saved on it once locked. As encryption standards are frequently cited in product specifications these days in an attempt to impress potential customers, for the benefit of non-techie readers it may be worth exploring what AES encryption actually means.
The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) was developed by cryptographers Joan Daemen and Vincent Rijmen, and has been adopted as the preferred encryption product by the US government due to its strength compared to other algorithms. The standard uses a symmetric encryption algorithm, meaning that data is both encrypted and decrypted using a single key – generally referred to as a secret or private key. The larger this key value (measured in bits), the harder it becomes for an attacker to break the encryption algorithm and decrypt the data. The AES-256 variant employs the largest – you guessed it – 256-bit key size available for the algorithm, which some researchers have estimated could take billions of years for a supercomputer to successfully complete a “brute force” attack (i.e. attempt every possible key combination).
Convenient PIN-enabled encryption process
Now, the ability to encrypt USB flash drives and just about any other form of data storage is nothing new. But some of these devices rely on use of clunky, unintuitive software interfaces for the purposes of encrypting and decrypting stored data. What sets the Toshiba Encrypted USB Flash Drive apart is convenient use of a physical mini-keypad to manage the encryption process, making it no more laborious than using an ATM.
To encrypt the drive you simply enter a 7-15 digit PIN code – which can be changed by following the device instructions – and press the lock button. The device also locks automatically if it gets prematurely yanked out of a USB port. Decrypting the drive for use is an equally straightforward process: before plugging it into to a compatible USB 2.0 port on a computer, you simply re-enter the PIN and press the lock button again. The light beneath the unlock symbol will then illuminate to indicate that the drive has been decrypted.
The following video provides some more detail on the encryption / decryption process and also covers changing the default PIN:
Theft protection – Hacker Defense Mechanism
The device is also protected against the scenario of a thief physically attempting to guess the decrypt PIN code through use of a Hacker Defense Mechanism, which wipes all data on the drive following ten incorrect entries. As a result of its encryption strength and general physical security features the drive has been awarded the FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standard) 140-2 Level 3 certification by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
In terms of more general durability the device also comes with an aluminium sleeve which covers the mini-keyboard and helps protect the drive from dust and moisture.
Overall, the Toshiba USB Encrypted USB Flash Drive provides a convenient encrypted storage solution that helps remind the user of the need to secure their data through the presence of its endearingly retro mini-keypad.
The device is available with 4Gb, 8Gb, 16Gb and 32Gb storage capacities with prices starting at $95.
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