Recommendation: USB Memory Stick – Iron Key

IronKey USB keys are a superb option for protecting critical data.

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With millions of USB memory sticks in use, often handed out for free at your local conference, a lot of mission critical data is showing up in a lot of unexpected locations.  The recent Stuxnet virus, credited with damaging the Iranian nuclear program, was propagated via a USB key. It is not uncommon to pull out an old USB key and find client presentations and data readily available, stored on the key months ago in a rush to get some work done.   No one in their right mind would leave their office door open, lights on, with a big sign glaring “Steal My Data”, but a USB key is almost the same.

What would happen if someone got hold of that USB key? Would it violate that Non Disclosure you signed? What would it do to your companies reputation?

Security on USB keys is critical, and finally some good companies are coming on line to provide a great solutions.  Security Beacon believes the following are critical features for a Secure USB memory solution:

  • Large storage capacity
  • AES 128bit or better security
  • Impervious to brute force attack
  • Durable to dropping, nicks, etc
  • Reputable vendor
  • Easy to support
  • Cross Platform

One company that tops the list is IronKey. The IronKey system includes a hardware based encryption key system. Most USB keys use a software based solution. Software based solutions are not as good because they become resident on the PC, which creates a Cache and various other memory stores that can be manipulated by Black Hats. With a hardware based solution, the data is decrypted in the key, and only the data being requested is transferred to the PC application.

IronKey uses AES-256 bit encryption (Best you can get right not).  And though Security Beacon believes all encryption ultimately can be cracked, the Iron Key has an added self destruct mechanism that destroys the encryption key stored in firmware if the user password is entered wrong 10 times in a row.  At that point it would take a very talented group with the resources of the NSA to maybe get the data.

The software on IronKey works well.  It has a very nice on board browser with a proxy anonimzer that spoofs your IP address when you are searching the web.  This sounds very “Black Hat”, but if you are searching your competitors website for information on the market, this extra tool makes it hard for your competitor to pin down your address.

The IronKey is offered in a range of platforms that fit well with Security Beacons User (Basic, Advanced and paranoid).  The product is available in a range of sizes and features.

The unit comes in a S200 or D200 model designation.  The S200 is a bit faster and robust.  The D200 is a slightly cheaper variation.  The S200/D200 can be bought in a Basic, Personal or Enterprise variant.  Our personal favourite is the 16gb version of the S200 which can be purchased on line at Amazon: IronKey Personal S200 16G  but other models include:

Basic User

Advanced User

Paranoid User

  • Product Name: Iron Key Enterprise
  • IronKey Personal + allows for centralized control and disablement of the IronKey.  This is better for Enterprise applications with 50 or more USB keys, but if you are paranoid you should be able to justify it even for a few users
  • Register for Evaluation copy

Disclaimer: Security Beacon makes some of its revenue based on Google advertising and links to Amazon.  So, if you end up purchasing a product based on a Security Beacon recommendation we may receive a referral fee from Google or Amazon.  This helps pay our hardworking staff and keeps our spouses happier.





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