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Jan 08 2016

Kingston Introduces “Self-Destruct” USB Flash Drive for SMBs

Remember the opening sequence from the "Mission: Impossible" TV series? In it, Special Agent and team leader Jim Phelps used to receive briefings on a miniature tape recorder that inevitably went up in smoke at the end of the scene. Now Kingston Digital, the Flash subsidiary of Kingston Technology, brings back this capability to USB sticks – well, sort of.

Next to cloud services, USB sticks are probably the most affordable, comfortable and portable method to store important data. Available in capacities up to 1 TB, they can hold entire desktop environments or small to medium document and image catalogues that may even be encrypted and password-protected if need be. However, these latter features aren't exactly standard functions – and USB sticks have a habit of easily being dropped or forgotten. As a result, they're not the medium of choice for carrying around confidential information, unless you use business-class devices with built-in security.

One of the top vendors for this type of kit is Kingston Digital, the Flash subsidiary of 'memory maker' Kingston Technology. With the DataTraveler® 4000 and DataTraveler® Vault Privacy product lines, they already have two deluxe USB sticks in their portfolio, but are now addressing the SMB market with their DataTraveler® 2000 – reportedly the first of its class that will 'self-destruct' after a number of failed login attempts. The new stick supports all major operating systems – Windows (up from Vista SP2), Mac OS X (up from version 10.8), Linux (up from kernel 2.6), Android, and Chrome OS – and is hence easily deployable even in heterogeneous environments. Like all DataTraveler® products, it offers hardware-based 256-bit AES protection in XTS mode, with all encryption work being done entirely on the stick itself so that users won't need to run special software or install extra hardware drivers. But quite unlike its cousins, the DataTraveler® 2000 is equipped with an alphanumeric keypad that enables users to set their own protection PINs in accordance with company policies. To top things off, the protective features are combined with an auto-lock mechanism that is activated as soon as the stick is pulled from the USB port and will reformat the drive after 10 login attempts with incorrect username/PIN combinations. That way, the auto-lock feature not only wipes out the data, but also the encryption key, thus offering protection against most brute force attacks and further tampering with the device. Finally, an aluminum cover protects the keypad from water and dust as well as from shock-induced random login attempts during transportation.

While the auto-lock protection mechanism as such is nothing new – in fact, it's a key feature of all DataTraveler® drives – it is not easily found in gear that's aimed at SMB users or professionals. Unfortunately, there's also a bit of a problem with Kingston's approach to the market segment, because as far as capacities and transfer speeds are concerned, the new devices are actually downgraded versions of their enterprise-class cousins. Available in three sizes of 16, 32 and 64 GB and offering maximum read and write speeds of 135 and 40 MB/s or less when connected to USB 3.1 ports, they will mostly appeal to patient users carrying very small data stores. Then again, this is no mean feat to begin with.

Kingston DataTraveler® 2000 USB flash drives will be available later in Q1/16; prices are yet to be disclosed. A test report will soon be available from Legit Reviews.


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