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This flash drive will self-destruct (if you want it to)

Want to feel like James Bond? Check out this easy-to-use encrypted flash drive.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3

Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3 

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Losing hardware is a pain, but everything is replaceable.  

Allowing data to fall into someone else's hands is the ultimate headache. Once your data is out there in the wild, it's game over.

The "solution" is to encrypt your data. But the problem with that solution is that unless the encryption is easy and foolproof, users are going to sacrifice data security for convenience.

If you want easy-to-use high security encryption, then you need hardware that's aimed at professionals, and that hardware doesn't get much better than the Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3.0.

Also: This unusual ransomware attack targets home PCs, so beware

Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3.0 tech specs:

  • No software – so there's nothing to keylog or to hack.
  • OS agnostic – the device is completely cross platform compatible.
  • Onboard keypad – all authentication takes place within the device itself.
  • All data, passwords and encryption keys are 256-bit encrypted at rest.
  • No host computer is involved in setup, authentication or encryption.
  • Forced enrollment – no default PINs ensures that data is not put at risk by employees who fail to change a factory set PIN before deployment.
  • IP68 rated against water and dust damage.
  • Separate administrator and user access.
  • Read-only options that can be enforced by the administrator or set by the user if allowed by policy.
  • Highly configurable with policy such as time out values, data recovery PINs, and programmable PIN lengths.
  • Brute force PIN attack protection.
  • Extruded aluminum enclosure with protective sleeve.
  • FIPS 140-2 Level 3 validated.
  • Can be automatically configured remotely using Apricorn's Aegis Configurator tool.
  • Up to 195MB/s read speed/162MB/s write speed.
  • Super Speed USB 3.2 (backwards compatible with USB 3.0, 2.0 and 1.1)
  • Capacities ranging from 30GB to 2TB.
Not much bigger than a regular USB flash drive

Not much bigger than a regular USB flash drive

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Looking like an oversized USB flash drive, the Aegis Secure Key 3.0 packs a lot of high-tech into the tough aluminum shell. 

The first thing that immediately stands out is the built-in keypad that's used to enter the passcode, which eliminates the risk of your passcode being compromised by a keylogger.

The keypad is rugged and blocks passcode leaking as a result of keyloggers

The keypad is rugged and blocks passcode leaking as a result of keyloggers

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

When I started using Aegis encrypted flash drives with the built-in keypad I expected the polymer-coated buttons to be the weak link, but they are exceedingly wear-resistant and do not seem to wear out over time to reveal the most commonly used buttons. I have similar drives that have been in regular usage for several years and the keypads still look like new.

It's not just the keypad that's tough. The flash drive is encased in aluminum (which also acts as a heatsink to keep the drive cool when in use), and there's even an extruded aluminum protective sleeve that protects the keypad and connector.

Not just secure, but also very tough

Not just secure, but also very tough

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The drive is IP68 rated against water and dust damage, making it a really rugged storage drive that's just as much at home in the wilderness as it is in an air-conditioned office.

In use, the simplicity of the Aegis Secure Key 3.0 really shines. Once you've set up a passcode, you can unlock and lock the drive in a matter of seconds with a few taps on the keypad.

You can unlock it easily. But the bad guys can't.

The drive features built-in brute-force decrypt defense to wipe the drive if someone tries to guess the passcode, and it has a built-in unattended auto-lock feature that secures the drive in the event you walk away from it or become distracted.

For an 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.

How James Bond is that?

The drive works perfectly on USB-C Macs using a thord-party USB-C-to-USB-A adapter

The drive works perfectly on USB-C Macs using a thord-party USB-C-to-USB-A adapter 

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

All internal components are physically protected from tampering with hardened epoxy, and the firmware is locked down, making it immune to malware attacks such as BadUSB.

Another standout feature of this encrypted flash drive is the capacity. Two terabytes is absolutely enormous when it comes to USB flash drives, not to mention those featuring high-grade encryption. Some may advocate for smaller drives, especially when paying for for encryption as well as the storage drive, but there are a number of really big advantages to having this high capacity. 

The first is that you don't have to spend time picking and choosing what gets encrypted and what doesn't. Here you have the room to secure everything. This not only simplifies the thought process, but it also eliminates the risk that something which should be encrypted gets missed and is laying around easily accessible. 

Another benefit is that sometimes you just need access to huge amounts of portable encrypted storage. Maybe you're moving a lot of documents around. Perhaps it's a backup. Maybe you want to copy and move some sensitive CCTV footage.

Having two terabytes of portable storage that's always secured means that you never have to make the sort of compromises that leave sensitive data open to interception.

The Aegis Secure Key 3.0 is also totally cross-platform compatible and OS agnostic. Whether you use Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, or Chrome, this encrypted storage drive will work as long as there's a powered USB port and storage file system available. All the encryption and decryption and control of the drive happens on the drive.

On the performance side, the drive is capable of  read and write speeds up to 195MB/s and 162MB/s, respectively. I've tested this and found the real-world figures to be close to these published specs.

The real-world performance lives up to the published specs

The real-world performance lives up to the published specs

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3.0 also comes in a broad range of capacities, ranging from 30GB to 2TB, with prices ranging from $129 to $999.

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