IronKey S200 1GB USB flash drive

IronKey doubled the maximum capacity of its ultra-secure USB flash drive

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Ironkey S200
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Pros

  • Secure, uses SLC NAND

Cons

  • Expensive

Bottom Line

The IronKey is targeted at people who need to go that extra mile for security and are willing to pay for it, but if you must have the highest possible reliability and encryption, this drive should be at the top of your portable storage list.

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Security

Apart from the use of SLC NAND flash, what really sets IronKey apart from the vast majority of other USB flash drives is its Cryptochip, an ASIC dedicated to encrypting all data on the drive using 256-bit AES algorithm.

IronKey's online security applications are also pretty impressive. As soon as you plug the IronKey drive into your USB port, a pop up box appears asking you to create a password. What's relatively cool about this password box is that it also automatically rates the security level of the password you create. It also offers the user the opportunity to backup the password on line with IronKey in case you forget it.

The initialisation of the drive takes less than a minute, at which time you're asked to set up an online account with IronKey, which enables certain features included with the drive, such as device and software updates and access to IronKeys encrypted web surfing service. By activating the online account, a secure web browser already installed on the drive opens, taking you to my.ironkey.com.

The online account then sets up a separate username and password to access information on the site. The site requires supplemental authorisation that includes creating three challenge and answer questions based on personal information you provide.

You can securely and directly log into your online IronKey account from within your IronKey Secure Flash Drive. For times where you cannot access your IronKey drive (e.g. you forgot your device password or lost your IronKey), you can log into "Safe Mode" using the credentials you set up online. Also, IronKey will email you with account alerts, such as when there is suspicious activity with your account.

IronKey then sets up anti-phishing protection by using a secret image that is displayed every time you log in to help assure you that you are at the real my.ironkey.com Web site and not a counterfeit site. You can change your Secret Image at any time in your account settings.

It also has you set up a secret phrase presented to you in the subject line of every email you receive from IronKey regarding your account. It is an anti-phishing technology that helps assure you that the email is legitimate and safe to open. You can change your Secret Phrase at any time in your account settings.

Once you pick and image and secret pass phrase, IronKey asks you to enter activation code that it has e-mailed to you. Once the activation code is entered, your IronKey is ready to use.

To say that this activation process is highly secure is an understatement -- neurotic is probably closer to the truth.

Another safety feature that protects against brute force attacks is the self-destruct mode. If someone does get their hands on your flash drive and they fail to type in the correct password 10 times, on the eleventh attempt, the IronKey drive will self-destruct and permanently lock out users and wipe out all the data on the drive.

One friendly feature of the IronKey drive is the ability to access your password and even data backed up online using the Remote Device Management Manage tool.

IronKey's online Account Dashboard let's you see all your account information at a glance, such as the latest activity on your account as well as the status of all your IronKeys. And, the Account Alerts features will also give you a heads up by e-mail if someone is trying to break into your account, allowing you to change your password.

All in all, the IronKey is a really great drive. I've had one now for two years and it has never failed me, but beware the price tag. This drive is targeted at people who need to go that extra mile for security and are willing to pay for it, but if you must have the highest possible reliability and encryption, this drive should be at the top of your portable storage list.

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