USB Protection

Typical Flash Drive vs. Advanced USB Protection

Hundreds of millions of USB flash drives are currently in operation around the world, with the vast majority not offering proper USB protection.  Most flash drives are basic, non-secure flash drives, while a growing percentage of the drives are able to properly protect USB contents. Let’s review the differences between the typical flash drive and the secure USB drive that offers advanced USB protection. Typical USB Flash Drive Standard USB flash drives have grown immensely popular due to the following:
  1. Small Size Due to their size, which is typically between 1 inch and 3 inches long, they can fit in laptop bags, pockets, and even on key rings.
  2. Ease of File Transfer People know that the files saved can be opened up wherever there are at the time, on anybody’s computer, with no difference what operating system or version is used.
  3. Affordability USB flash drives are so affordable that they are now often a give-away at tradeshows and can hold huge amounts of information.
But, the same reasons why they are so popular are also why they have become a huge liability for organizations:
  1. Due to the size, they fall out of pockets or are left in computers.
  2. Anybody that finds them can open them up on their computer.
  3. Typical USB flash drives are a dime a dozen. How many flash drives you have personally owned over the past 5 years?  Now, think about where each of those are now located!  More than likely you are missing quite a few…
Organizations now need to implement protective measures for USB flash drives to reduce the high cumulative cost of a lost flash drive, which includes detection and escalation time by employee, investigation time by IT, data breach costs, lost intellectual property, lost productivity, and other legal or regulatory costs.  Flash drives have become ingrained in business operations and provide considerable gains in efficiency, but the liability associated with their loss must be mitigated.  In order to do this, protective measures were added to USB flash drives. Let’s review the difference between a typical (non-secure) USB flash drive and one that incorporates considerable protection if it were to be lost. Advanced USB Flash Drive Protection The best of the protective flash drives incorporate advanced security measures into the drives.  These measures include encryption, secure authentication, and physical security. Encryption- the encryption algorithm should be at a minimum 128-bit encryption. The standard that the Federal government has decided upon is the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). Secure Authentication- authentication is the means by which the user enters their password or PIN. It is important that this method does not allow the password to be visible to malware created to “sniff” the password when it is typed into authentication software.  Hardware authentication, where a PIN is entered or biometric fingerprint is swiped on the device itself is the most secure. Physical Security- the encrypted data and the encryption key should be stored in separate components of the flash drive and all should be protected by physical barriers that make it nearly impossible to break through. This often included metal casing and epoxy resin that completely covers the internal components of the secure flash drive.