New USB stick comes with built-in PIN keypad

Five digits or ten

A US company has come up with an original take on ultra-secure portable storage, fitting a full PIN entry keypad to a USB stick.

The LOK-IT Secure Flash Drive from Systematic Development Group comes in two versions, the simpler of which allows five-key PINs to be entered to gain access, with a more sophisticated version featuring 10 keys.

Apart from both using 256-bit AES encryption to secure data, both drives remain encrypted until the correct PIN code is entered at the point it is inserted into the PC, which can be Windows, Mac or Linux. Each drive supports two keys, one for the user and one for an admin.

The drive design resists physical attacks by surrounding the chip on which the encryption PIN is held in an epoxy resin that breaks the chip if tampered with. Brute force PIN hacking is blocked by a maximum of ten logins attempts after which the drive has to be reformatted.

In other respects, apart from its aluminium case and dust and water resistance, the drive is identical to any other USB stick, coming in 2GB, 4GB, 8GB and 16GB capacities.

According to Systematic Development's John Tate, most customers are plumping for the most secure, 10-digit model, attracted by the design's different take on USB stick security. The majority of the company's rivals used a design that involved authenticating a user's login using a driver layer on the PC, something that was vulnerable to keyloggers, he said.

The LOK-IT's design advantage over conventional encrypted USB keys is hard to argue with - the key remains inside the drive and is never transferred to the PC, which would be a theoretical moment of vulnerability.

Tate's characterisation of rival designs as insecure is not entirely without supporting evidence. In January, three vendors of supposedly secure USB sticks admitted that the encryption on their drives was vulnerable to a theoretical attack that could render data insecure. Not all the products mentioned were current but the warning over design assumptions was clear.

A second bonus is the LOK-IT's OS-independent design, which means it can be plugged into any computer that supports USB storage. That also rules out the need for additional software.

At first sight, a slight disadvantage appears to be awkwardness of plugging a PIN into a drive while it is docked with a PC, but Tate confirmed that the code can be entered in advance of mounting the drive. Interestingly, expense doesn't seem to be a major issue - the 4GB drive costs $62 (approx £40), in line with other corporate-level encrypted USB sticks.

LOK-IT's makers have posted a video on YouTube explaining the design and doing the dirty on some of its rivals.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John E. Dunn

Techworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?