*Encrypted USB Thumb Drives*
By: Dementor
14 April 2014

I wanted, tested, and validated a hardware encrypted USB thumb drive for my backup regimen.

I backup 90% of my important data to USB thumb drives. I keep six drives in rotation. I am a happy Truecrypt user but it is not very portable. I am the only person in my family who uses it. I needed an encrypted drive that is usable for both dunces and experts.

There are a handful of encrypted USB thumb drives available today but they are not common or commodity, their inventories swing, and their prices change quickly. I believe this industry niche will improve and more options and prices will become available soon.

However, based on the extended performance of the five drives I tested, I am very happy with the results.

I tested five models from IronKey and Integral.

  1. FIPS 140 and 197 hardware
  2. Windows and Mac apps
  3. Memory-only apps (no disk or network)
  4. Cleans-up well (erases itself)

I standardized on Integral because they are less expensive, they are more widely available, and its app is faster than IronKey.

I like IronKey because they are a local company (Imation) and they continue to innovate, but their prices are 2-3X too high. As well, they churn models frequently and inventory and availability can be an issue.

The Windows and OSX apps always work and have never crashed. They only run in memory and never write files or temporary files to disk and they do not start or use any network connections. I personally tested the apps with Cuckoo and other tools for all memory, process, disk, registry, and network tests. I also validated these drives with two of my best engineers both crazy infosec savants.

Despite my precaution to NIST I prefer FIPS hardware. In addition to hardware encryption, FIPS includes hardware anti-tampering and is generally more rugged.

I have standardized on 8GB thumb drives and use some 4GB too.

Integral 8GB Crypto Drive FIPS 197


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