The coolest USB flash drive you can buy: Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3z

I've owned countless USB flash drives over the years, but none come close to being as cool -- or as useful -- as the Aegis Secure Key 3z with built-in hardware-based encryption.

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Looking for a solid, robust yet sleek USB flash drive that also features built-in, hardware-based encryption? Look no further than the Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3z.

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While USB flash drives are a super-convenient way to transport around gigabytes of data, they're a security nightmare because they are so easily lost and stolen. And while many makers offer a software-based data encryption solution, we might as well be honest and acknowledge that many users won't bother unless there's a huge amount of pressure on them to do so (and, even then, it only takes one mistake for your data to be leaked).

The Aegis Secure Key 3z has you covered, making it the perfect USB flash drive for professionals and business users. Rather than relying on a software-based encryption solution, the Aegis Secure Key 3z features built-in, hardware-based 256-bit AES XTS encryption (with FIPS 140-2 validation) that's totally cross-platform and OS agnostic -- it'll work on Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, Chrome, embedded systems, and anything that has a powered USB port and storage file system.

Physically, the Aegis Secure Key 3z is made from aluminum that's both tough and waterproof and dustproof, and it features a durable polymer-coated keypad that's used to enter the passcode to unlock the drive. All the markings are laser-etched, with no stickers to fall off. All the internal components are protected with epoxy resin to prevent physical tampering.

This is a quality bit of kit.

To power the drive for locking and unlocking, the Aegis Secure Key 3z contains a built-in rechargeable battery, which is topped up every time the drive is plugged into a USB port.

The flash drive's firmware is also locked to prevent tampering with it, which Apricorn claims makes it resistant to attacks such as BadUSB.

In use, the simplicity of the Aegis Secure Key 3z really shines. Once you've set up a passcode, you can unlock and lock the drive in seconds.

The drive features built-in brute-force decrypt defense, can be set to read-only mode, and it has unattended auto-lock in case you walk away from it and become distracted.

For that added level of security, there's also the ability to set a self-destruct PIN to quickly wipe the drive of its contents yet make it seem like it is fully working.

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If you want to deploy a lot of Aegis Secure Key 3z drives within an organization, then the drive also supports Apricorn's Aegis Configurator, which can be used to configure 10 drives simultaneously.

The drive comes in capacities ranging from 8GB all the way to 128GB, with prices starting at $79.

If you want something bigger -- both in terms of capacity and physical size -- then check out the Aegis Padlock DT external hard drive, which goes up to 12-terabytes.

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