Portable Secure Storage Large And Small

Portable Secure Storage Large And Small

I have been traveling with Apricorn’s portable flash drive (see “Traveling With Portable Secure Storage”). The USB 3.0 drive is fast but solid state storage is still expensive compared to hard disk drives. The latest addition to the family is the Aegis Padlock DT (Fig. 1). All four systems are FIPS 140-2 Level 2 validated and utilize a keyboard for key entry. This means the computer never sees the key.

Figure 1. Apricorn has a range of FIPS 140-2 Level 2 validated USB storage devices from the USB flash drive to Aegis Padlock DT (desktop) with up to 6 Tbytes of storage (right).

The Aegis Padlock DT (desktop) version is available in capacities from 2 Tbytes to 6 Tbytes. Pricing starts at $259. The main difference between DT and the other three systems is capacity and speed. The flash drive model is faster on reads but not writes. The flash versions have a write limitation but most users will not encounter that unless they write to disk a lot. The other difference is that the DT version uses more power so an external power brick (included) is required.

The unit is portable but large and heavy. The unit is 4.5-in by 7.2-in by 1.5-in. It has a large hard drive so it weighs a couple pounds. The other devices weigh less but their capacity is significantly lower.

The nice thing about the DT is it brings secure storage to almost any machine with a USB interface. The USB 3.0 provides performance almost on par with an internal drive.

All the Apricorn drives work with any USB system. They look like a conventional USB hard drive once they are unlocked.

The drives have an administration password and they support additional user passwords. Any password provides access to the entire hard drive that is encrypted so even gaining access to the drive within the aluminum box will not provide the attacker with any additional information. The administration password is used to create additional user passwords.

Passwords are 7 to 16 digit PINs (personal identification number). Unlocking the drive is matter of entering the PIN and pressing the unlock key. The drive can lock itself after a predetermined amount of idle time. The administrator can also program a self destruct PIN that wipes all keys. This essentially destroys all the data on the drive. This cannot be undone.

There is also a reset process that allows a new administration password to be entered but this essentially wipes the drive as well. If you have a user PIN and forget the administration PIN then log in as the user, copy the contents of the drive to another drive and then reset the system.

Apricorn also works to stymie brute force attacks. Enter improper PINs five times in a row and you will need to unplug and plug in the drive before entering a PIN again.

The drive uses colored LEDs for feedback. This is fine for using the drive but keep the documentation handy for adding new user PINs. I normally have at least two user PINs programmed just in case I forget one. The backup PIN is 16 digits.

Apricorn has very solid, rugged drives. They are definitely a great solution if you need to secure you data simply.

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