Sunday, February 28, 2010

Now *That's* Data Security

As an IT professional, I subscribe to a weekly publication called eWeek. Among its other features, eWeek provides product reviews. The Feb 15, 2010 edition had a review of a pair of USB flash drives built by a company called "IronKey." These USB drives are almost physically indestructible, and the data they hold can be made as secure as the user wants to make it.

The guts of the drive are encased in "military-grade epoxy" - just like the engine computer under the hood in your car, or in a Humvee or Stryker - and then "wrapped in a single-piece aluminum casing." The reviewer who tested them put them through all kinds of agony, and only one of the seven evaluation units died.

Each drive is serialized, with the serial number embedded in the electronics and etched in barcode on the side of the aluminum case. Data security is provided through a Web-based interface that can get to the drive wherever it is in the world, as long as it's attached to a computer connected to the Internet.

One of the coolest features of this device is its "self-destruct" feature. If it gets lost or stolen, the owner can issue a self-destruct command through the Web-based interface. The drive consists of one or more flash memory chips and a CryptoChip (capitalization is by IronKey, not me). (The CryptoChip is what manages the data security.) When the drive is connected to the Internet, it receives the self-destruct command, wipes its flash memory chip clean, and destroys its own CryptoChip. It doesn't blow up, Mission-Impossible style, but the device is essentially bricked.

Yeah, so I don't own one of these myself, but now I want to. To find out more about the IronKey USB flash drive, read the eWeek review at , or read more about it at or This is one cool toy.

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