Tuesday, 8 April 2008

IronKey: an Encrypted USB Flash Drive on Steroids (RSA)

Update (April 16): IronKey yesterday “announced full FIPS 140-2 Level 2 security validation ­ at the product level, rather than the more typical component-level validation.” Shame it’s “only” level 2, but I guess that’s a start and is probably more than adequate for the vast majority of applications.

IronKey isn't just another encrypted USB flash drive-key-stick-thingy. For a start, the company makes a big thing of their claim that IronKey is the only such device designed from the start to be secure (as opposed to a flash drive that's had security "bolted-on", presumably). Well, that's an interesting claim, but of arguable merit. However, there are other aspects that are worth talking about:
  1. This key will self-destruct -- if you try to disassemble it, or if you enter the wrong password too many times, the IronKey doesn't just wipe itself, it destroys the flash memory, the company says.
  2. It's not just a device, but also a service -- if you register the device on IronKey's Web site, the company offers password recovery/escrow and access to IronKey's own TOR anonimizing network (i.e., a private network, not the usual public one).
  3. It also acts as a 2FA device -- a firmware update will add the necessary logic to make it act as a Verisign VIP device, for two-factor authentication. An "enterprise" version of the device will also have similar support for RSA SecurID.
Shipping now for Windows XP and Vista. Mac and Linux support are "nearly ready".

Love him or hate him, the episode of Steve Gibson's podcast about IronKey has more about the device, including an interview with IronKey CEO, Dave Jevans (yes, that Dave Jevans).

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