Privacy and security are becoming increasingly more important this year. With the rise of cryptocurrencies, people are looking for safe places to store all their passwords and secret keys. With significant wealth being kept in crypto wallets, you should secure your passcodes as best you can. That does not mean use LastPass! They need to be encrypted and kept offline on a secure flash drive or just using paper wallets.
How do you measure a secure flash drives security level?
The main standard is FIPS 140-2 (Federal Information Processing Standard) a government security standard. Level 1 is the lowest and level 4 is the most secure. Here’s a quick overview of each level.
Level 1 – These must have some form of encryption
Level 2 – Level 1 encryption module, plus tamper-proof technology
Level 3 – above levels plus further physical tamper proof enclosures
Level 4 – All the above plus extended protection of the cryptographic module. Many level 4 flash drives will actually delete the text-critical security parameters (CSP).
Are USB sticks 100% Secure
No, nothing is ever 100% secure. Hackers become ever more sophisticated and advanced. Malicious code can be added to the USB via the firmware but this a highly advanced technique known as BadUSB.
Note: USB encrypted storage will be much more secure than your PC if could based systems.
Here is our best secure flash drives onb the market on 2018.
Apricon is a California based company that has specialized in secure external hard drives since 1983. The Aegis secure key is one of their top selling products and has been highly praised by sites like Wired and PC Mag. The Aegis Secure Key does not have software but runs on 256 bit AES XTS encryption based hardware, making it very secure. Being software free means this USB will work on any operating system or device.
- FIPS 140-2 Level 3 Validated
- Military Grade Full-disk 256-bit AES XTS Hardware Encryption
- PIN-Activated 7 - 16 digits - Alphanumeric keypad
- Dust and water resistant IP58 Certified
- Software-Free Setup and Operation
As you can see from the image above, this secure USB has an onboard PIN key. The USB is also tamper proof and immune from BadUSB malicious code injection. The USB is also waterproof; tested to in a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes.
This USB stick comes in 16GB to 480GB, which is a huge amount of storage for a flash drive.
The Ironkey flash drive has Level 3 security and is a serious piece of kit; they brand their products as the ‘Worlds Most Secure Flash Drive’. This brand was bought by Kingston at the start of 2016. With full encryption on all models, the more expensive models have windows on the go and built for enterprise mobile business use. The enterprise models can also be run from a centralized system called the Datalocker.
If you like James Bond type gadgets, you will love this flash drive; after 10 failed login attempts, the USB will ‘self-destruct’. All internal data is reset to the factory model.
- Secure Flash Drive
- FIPS 140-2 Level 3 Certified
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Designed for use on secure networks such as Military, Government, and large Enterprises
The Kingston data traveler vault is aimed at the corporate market to provide secure business solutions. All USB drives can be controlled by a company’s IT department to meet compliance protocols. The data vault has 256-bit AES hardware-based encryption and some models have anti-virus options.
The USB comes in 4GB to 64GB
- 256-bit AES hardware-based encryption to safeguard data
- Customizable to meet specific internal corporate IT requirements
- Optional Anti-Virus protection from ESET
- SuperSpeed (USB 3.0) technology
- TAA compliant
Integral is a UK based company specializing in data storage solutions. Established in 1989, Integral’s main product ranges are SSD cards and secure USB drives. Like the secure USBs above, the Integral 4GB Crypto drive has military standard 256-bit hardware encryption along with an internal tamper-proof system.
This encrypted flash drive is best for personal use and does not have all the administrator controls like some of the enterprise level drives above. This Integral flash drive is also tough, being built with a triple layer of protection. The core of the product is protected with an epoxy resin, then cased in a solid inner layer. Finally, the USB has a silicone based external case which is shockproof.
This secure flash drive comes in 4GB to 64 GB of storage.
- AES 256-bit hardware encryption is superior to software encryption used by many other high security USBs - The Crypto Drive has been independently tested for data encryption by the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) committee and validated to FIPS 197
- Mandatory encryption of all files (100% privacy) - All data stored on the drive is secure. Unprotected files cannot be saved to the Crypto Drive - Crypto Drive has a zero footprint - No software installation is required before use
- Endpoint security software compatible - The Integral Crypto Drive operates comfortably with endpoint security solutions by using the embedded unique ID - Works on Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and Mac OS X without administrator privileges
- Rugged triple-layer waterproof design - Protects the Crypto Drive against knocks, drops, break-in and submerging in water. The electronics are sealed in epoxy resin and then shielded by a steel inner case. The rubberised silicone outer casing provides a final layer of protection.
- Embedded Unique ID (optional) - During production a personalised tag (e.g. ACME APPROVED USB) can be embedded into the Crypto that can be viewed on a PC. The taggives endpoint software a convenient way to identify Integral Crypto as the official company drive, whilst denying access to other unauthorised USB drives that do not carry the uniqueID tag.
iStorage was incorporated in 2009 to provide military standard hardware storage, specializing in encrypted hard drives. Along with a range of highly secure hard drives, they also produce a range of encrypted SSD cards and flash drives. iStorage have built a good reputation over the years and an impressive client list.
The Datashur Pro is a leading Pin based flash drive available in 4GB to 64GB. This secure USB is FIPS 140-2 level 3 certified offering full data encryption like the above products. The Datashur works by carrying a tiny rechargeable battery that runs the PIN code system, this is entered BEFORE you insert the USB into your PC. It can be used for both personal and corporate use, offering administrative PIN controls. If the flash drive experiences a brute force attack the data is deleted forever, but only if the PIN is incorrectly entered ten times.
- USB 3.0 - Read/Write speeds - up to 116/43 MBps
- FIPS 140-2 Level 3, NATO Restricted level, NLNCSA (Dutch Government) certified
- Timeout lock - locks after predetermined amount of time
- Brute force hack defence mechanism
- Drive reset destroys data and recovers use of drive