USB drives…


Dated, novelty, giveaways? Or robust, secure solution for data on the move?

Who can remember life before USB drives? Cast your mind back some 16 plus years and there was a time when moving data from A to B involved saving it on floppy discs or CDs (if you were fortunate enough to have a CD-writer) and then carefully putting it in a case/sleeve/wallet to ensure it didn’t get scratched or damaged on route to its destination.

Floppy disc, CD, USB

The launch of commercial USB drives in 2000, revolutionised portable data storage. USB drives were not only smaller and faster, than floppy discs and CDs, they had the capacity to store a LOT (thousands of times more) data and were more durable and reliable (due to having no moving parts). Furthermore, in time they were available in different shapes and sizes making them fantastic promotional items/giveaways – I suspect many of us still have a secret stash of novelty shaped USBs somewhere!

Novelty USBs - great fun but are they up to the job of keeping your sensitive data safe?

But 17 years on, and with the advent of ‘The Cloud’, have USB drives served their time or do they still have a part to play in portable data storage?

Whilst the Cloud is great in terms of offering convenient (often free) data storage and sharing, it does have its limitations. Storage limits are restricted unless you want to pay, but to be fair the costs aren’t significant. Security can be an issue, but again if you pay for the right service you can avert this problem. The biggest problem with Cloud storage is that it relies on connectivity. And whilst most of us enjoy being connected to the ‘worldwide web’ 24/7 there are still times when getting connected, or rather getting a reliable, secure connection just isn’t possible – rendering cloud storage useless!

Of course, connectivity isn’t an issue with a USB drive, which is why it is still a viable solution when it comes to data storage on the move.

USBs remain a popular data storage option for both individuals and businesses, but what happens when you lose a drive?

Thousands, in fact millions, of USB drives are lost every year. Last year a study by ESET highlighted that more than 22,000 USBs had been discovered at dry cleaners, worryingly only 55% of said drives were returned to their rightful owners.

Thousands of unencrypted USBs are lost or stolen every year

Yes, losing a USB can be annoying and inconvenient, but should the contents of the drive be of a sensitive/confidential nature the ramifications of losing a USB drive can be much greater.

Business disruption and long-term reputational damage are likely outcomes in the event of data loss, both of which will have financial implications for a company. Furthermore, a data breach involving confidential/sensitive data could result in a hefty fine.

Enforceable from May 2018, the new EU GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) will see organisations being fined up to 4% of global annual turnover (or €20 million whichever is greater) in the event of a data breach involving data pertaining to EU citizens. NOTE: The UK’s departure from the EU will not protect UK organisations from crippling fines. The UK Government has now confirmed that the current 1998 Data Protection Act will be replaced by similar legislation to the EU GDPR in due course.

Steps can, and should, be taken to a) stop USB drives from getting into the wrong hands and b) stop the wrong hands from actually accessing/using the data on the drive.

Hardware encrypted USBs

Unlike software encryption, hardware encryption offers a robust solution to secure data storage. SafeToGo® from Cardwave is a fully robust, hardware encrypted USB 3.0 flash drive which boasts many benefits including:

– Enterprise-grade security
– 100% hardware encryption
– High performance in a small form-factor
– Supports multi-partitions
– Anti brute-force attack
– Manufactured to ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004
– Rugged construction
– Zero failure
– Multi language support
– Lifecycle management
– Unique randomly generated key
– User-friendly set up
– Data password protected with AES 256-bit XTS encryption
– Plug-and-play simplicity/authorised autorun
– Fast start-up times
– Timer lockdown
– Total reset
– SafeConsole® compatible, allowing you to centrally manage all your SafeToGo devices regardless of location. Benefits of SafeConsole include:

– Remote kill
– Assist forgotten passwords
– Automatic inventory
– Audit for compliance
– Enforce policies
– Geolocation and geofencing


USB Blog 3

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