Question: you hear so much about USB flash security for thumb drives. What really makes USB flash secure? When you read about encrypted USB flash devices, all those technical terms are like reading Greek. What do you really need to know to figure this out?
AES: Industrial Strength Security
Great question! Every day we hear more new stories about laptops and USB drives with customer and citizen data being lost and compromised. But experts frequently discuss security for these devices by using expert-level terms. To most businesses and consumers, it’s not very comprehensible. Let’s break it down and look closer at...
What you really need to know about:
Encrypted USB Flash Drives
You’ve probably already heard about encrypting data “Why encrypted USB flash drives”, which means scrambling the way data is actually stored so it can’t be read without a password. The single most important term you need to know here:
AES or Advanced Encryption Standard.
This standard describes a manner of encrypting data. It can be done in different key sizes (don't worry about that term) of 128 bits, 192 bits and 256 bits. The bigger the number, the better. The lowest of 128 bits will suffice for most situations, but if you’re dealing with highly sensitive information, look for the highest number possible. Other encryption systems exist, but they can have different limitations. They aren’t all ideal for creating encrypted USB flash devices.
We recommend looking for AES encryption for encrypted USB flash drives.
YOU Make USB Flash Drives Secure
Here’s the hard truth: Security specs - and all those alien-sounding terms - are important, but security policies are more important.
That's because social engineering compromises USB devices more than actual hacks. Successfully encrypted USB flash drives might turn out to be completely worthless if:
Institute or encourage policies that force users to create strong passwords, to lock their computers when not in use, and to store their passwords in a secure way i.e., not on a sticky note on their desk.
- the password is easily guessed, like a birthday or spouse’s name
- people leave the computer unattended and unlocked
- and people lose the encrypted USB flash drive, or store them where they can be stolen easily
This is much too large a subject to cover completely in a single post, but hopefully this answer helped clarify some of the most important issues in making that USB flash device secure.
Also, you might want to have a closer look one of today’s most comprehensive open source encryption solution for securely encrypting your USB flash drives: TrueCrypt.
TrueCrypt allows you to securely encrypt your files, folders and even your entire operating systems by using some of today’s technically most advanced industrial-strength encryption algorithms. TrueCrypt can also quite easily be used to encrypt flash drives and make sure that your data is stored encrypted and on a secure USB drives.
It has many advanced functions, and in order to make sure that encryption and security levels live up to your requirements we recommend that you read through some of their documentation and how-to’s before you start using this excellent piece of software to protect your flash drives from the harsh realities of today’s business surroundings.
Your USB flash drives can also be pre-loaded with this powerful open source encryption tool during production. On request we’ll be happy to provide you with more information on software and hardware based encryption.
Stay tuned for future posts covering in more detail how to use TrueCrypt to securely encrypt your USB flash drives using TrueCrypts built in “traveler’s mode”...
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