IronKey Personal 2 GB Secure Flash Drive

Manufacturer: IronKey

Product Name: IronKey Personal 2 GB Secure Flash Drive

Review Date: 09/24/08

Author: Kristofer Brozio

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Virtually indestructible? Check!

Self-Destruct Mechanism? Check!

Cool looking? Check!

Sounds like the features of some cool gadget out of a James Bond movie right? Yes, but it’s something you can get right now. Would you believe me if I told you those features listed are for a USB flash drive? I wouldn’t either, but they are!

Up on the review block today I’ve got probably the coolest USB Flash Drive on the market today, at least from a guys point of view anyway! It’s the IronKey, even the name sounds cool, but it’s much more than a great looking flash drive, it’s a portable vault for your data that cannot be accessed by anyone but you with your password. If someone does try to hack the drive it will self-destruct after ten wrong attempts, not literally, but the data will all be erased from the drive. The drive uses hardware based AES 256bit encryption technology, and it’s incased in a virtually indestructible solid metal casing that’s also waterproof and tamper proof so your data is sure to be safe when it’s on the IronKey.

So continue on to check it out further…

The IronKey comes in a fairly large box for a USB Drive, it’s mostly padding really and included with it is a small nylon strap and user manual. On the back of the box is a nice diagram showing you what the insides of the IronKey look like as most likely you’ll never see them!

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as for design, the Ironkey is well, Iron like?!? it’s a big block of metal basically with the IronKey logo on the bottom with an LED indicator there as well. On the corner of the IronKey is a small hole that goes through where you can attach the included lanyard.

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On the back is your serial number (I blocked mine out..) and a space to have it engraved for personalization.

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The cap of the IronKey is rubber padded inside, this not only keeps the water out but helps to keep the cap on so you won’t lose it.

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Specifications:

IronKey Personal 2 GB Secure Flash Drive
with 1 Year of Internet Protection
Model Number: D20202
Price: $109.00

For Individuals who wish to protect their data and privacy
IronKey Personal has all the benefits of IronKey Basic plus a suite of security applications and services:
* Mozilla Firefox Web Browser
* IronKey Password Manager
* Secure Sessions Service for safe and private web surfing
* Secure Backup software in case your IronKey is ever lost or stolen

Reliable & Premium Quality

Encased in a solid, tamper resistant and waterproof metal casing, the IronKey is built to survive years of wear and tear. IronKey uses only the highest quality components, with up to 10 times the average memory life span of a traditional flash drive.

Hardware-Level Key Management and Defenses

When an IronKey is plugged into a laptop or desktop computer, the user must authenticate with a password before data and applications are accessible. Unlike software-based encryption, the IronKey Cryptochip prevents encryption keys from being transferred and stored onto PCs, where they are vulnerable.

IronKey protects against brute-force password guessing attacks by using non-volatile access-failure counters stored on the Cryptochip. If a thief tries to break into an IronKey and enters 10 incorrect passwords, the Cryptochip will securely erase all the encrypted data with patent-pending Flash Trash technology. This ensures no trace can be recovered from the device.
Cryptographic Authentication

Each IronKey is pre-configured with a client-side digital certificate, which can be used for strong authentication to enterprise websites. IronKey also provides a PKCS#11 interface for developers to access the device’s cryptographic functions.

IRONKEY PERSONAL BENEFITS:
* All stored data is encrypted, all the time
* Manage and protect your online passwords
* Surf safely and privately
* No Windows administrative privileges required
* A secure platform for portable applications
* No software or drivers to install

Technical Specifications:
IronKey Personal
Capacity: 2GB

Speed:
Up to 30 MB per second Read
Up to 20 MB per second Write

Dimensions: 75mm X 19mm X 9mm
Weight: .9 oz (25 grams)
Waterproof: MIL-STD-810F

Temperature:
Operating: 0 °C, +70 °C
Storage: -40 °C, +85 °C
Operating Shock: 16G rms
Hardware: USB 2.0 high speed

Hardware Encryption:
Data: AES Cipher-Block Chained mode
Encryption Keys: 128 Hardware DRNG
PKI: 2048-bit RSA
Hashing: 256-bit SHA
FIPS Validations: 140-2 Level 2, 186-2, 197

The first thing you do with your IronKey is to plug it in obviously, if your computer is set to autorun then the program will start and ask for a password, after that the IronKey will format and install the applications automatically. It takes a couple minutes to complete the entire process, and once you’re done your data is secure.

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Next thing to do is activate your IronKey, the onboard secure FireFox launches and takes you to the secure registration/activation site. From there you have access to other account information as well like password backups etc.

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The actual onboard interface is useful, but the only application installed currently is an older version of FireFox, and you can use the current version as of yet because of a compatibility issue, but IronKey is working on a fix for it.

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The things that you can do with the interface though are: Backup and Restore, Password Manager, Password Generator, Software Updates, Set Lost and Found info, Change your IronKey Password, and change network settings.

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IronKey also puts a small icon in your taskbar that allows you to turn secure sessions on and off, monitor secure servers and even check the bandwidth being used by the secure sessions.

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According to the specs the IronKey transfers data up to 8 time faster than ordinary flash drives, so I’m not sure what exactly an ‘ordinary’ flash drive is but I put it up against one of the fastest on the market today, the OCZ Rally2 Turbo, using SiSoft Sandra 2009 Removable Storage Benchmark test.

Base results were:

OCZ: 7900ops/minute

IronKey: 938ops/minute

The 256MB Files Test results:

OCZ:

256MB Files Test
Read Performance : 7ops/minute, 29.87MB/s, 203.89X
Write Performance : 6ops/minute, 25.60MB/s, 174.76X
Delete Performance : 444ops/minute
File Fragments : 1.0
Combined Index : 6ops/minute

IronKey:

256MB Files Test
Read Performance : 7ops/minute, 29.87MB/s, 203.89X
Write Performance : 1ops/minute, 4.27MB/s, 29.13X
Delete Performance : 37ops/minute
File Fragments : 2.0
Combined Index : 2ops/minute

Looking at that those test results we see both the IronKey and the rally2 are pretty close in performance for Reading.

The Specs for the IronKey state up to 20mb/s for writing, but as you see it only hit 4.27mb/s, with a little higher at 6.4mb/s for lower file sizes. Not sure what happened here, could be something to do with the encryption of the drive etc.

Of course the comparison is a bit skewed as the OCZ is the fastest I’ve got on hand and most likely the fastest on the market today. I’m sure if I found one of the ‘ordinary’ flash drives we might see a better comparison. Honestly though, speeds of flash drives don’t mean much to me, it’s the capacities I’m more concerned about, I don’t care as much about speed as to how much it can hold. The IronKey is available up to 8gigs in capacity, which is about the average right now, with larger ones coming out of course and I’m sure IronKey will follow suit.

 

 

Conclusion:

The IronKey is a USB Drive yes, but it’s probably the most unique USB drive out there today, in that it’s features rival that of the military and what they use to protect their own data.  You too can have protection like that for your own data in a cool looking USB drive.

As far as it’s slow speed goes, well that not the main reason you’ll be purchasing this drive is it? I personally think it’s fine the way it is, if you or your organization has a need to protect their data then this is the way to go.

With all the hoopla about border searches etc going on, this is the drive I’d want to be carrying with me through customs, let’s see one of those guys try and tamper with the IronKey!

Pros:

-Virtually indestructible

-Tamper proof – water proof

-Truly secures your data

Cons:

-Not compatible with new FireFox yet

-Not very fast

 

Grades:

Overall:

Design: score-10-10

Performance:

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