THE BLOG
07/07/2014 08:48 am ET Updated Sep 06, 2014

Apricorn and Toshiba Help Keep Data Safe

How secure is your data?

Can anyone log onto your computer and access files on your hard drives or flash drives?

Unless you've been diligent about encrypting and password protecting those files, the answer is probably "I don't know."

The folks at Apricorn Inc. and Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. have your back.

Apricorn has just hit store shelves with the Aegis Padlock DT FIPS external hard drive ($259 t0 $869 depending on capacity, which ranges from two terabytes to six terabytes). The one the company sent to us to test was four terabytes and is designed to work on any computer system.

The first thing you notice when taking this drive out of its box is its keypad, which requires users to enter a seven-to-16-digit personal identification number (PIN) before being able to use the drive. Setting up the PIN is virtually painless and the keypad is able to hold up to five individual PINs (including one for an administrator). This also enables users to protect their own data separately from others using the same drive. Only the administrator will have access to everything that's on the drive.

Installation was also a fairly simple process:

  • Plug the drive into an electrical outlet
  • Attach it to a USB 2.0 or 3.0 port on the computer
  • Turn it on

Lights will flash as it performs a self test and, if everything is successful, a green light will indicate that it's time to set up the PIN numbers.

Everything that is stored on the drive will also be protected with FIPS 140-2 Level 2 validation, which is the cryptography standard required by the U.S. federal government.

Other features of the drive include:

  • It auto locks after a predetermined period of inactivity
  • It further protects data from hackers by requiring that the drive be disconnected and reconnected after five incorrect PINs have been entered. This also results in a "crypto-erase," which renders all data on the drive useless. In this case the drive must be completely reset before it can be used
  • No software is required to use or set up the drive
  • It features an aluminum heat dispensing enclosure and a wear-resistant keypad that won't show signs of which keys have been used
  • It comes with a one-year limited warranty

The TransMemory Pro USB 3.0 Flash Drive from Toshiba ($129.99 and $199.99 depending on capacity) is basically a metal memory stick with security software (for PCs only) and password protection built in. The one I tested was a 128 gigabyte drive, which is the more expensive of the two that are available. The other drive has a capacity of 64 gigabytes.

Using the TransMemory Pro is a simple process; Just plug it into an USB 2.0 or 3.0 port on your computer and it's available for use. Once the memory stick is installed, you can set up password-protected partitions. That's it. All of the data stored on the drive is then protected by the software encryption software stored on the drive.

Although the TransMemory Pro drive doesn't offer the hardcore security found on the Apricorn drive, its method of encryption is adequate for those of use that don't store super secret data on our hard drives. Plus, since it's designed as a flash drive, it's portable. Just put it in your pocket or laptop bag and you can carry your secure data with you.

The drive's key features include:

  • Write speeds up to 205 megabytes per second and read speeds up to 222 megabytes per second
  • A high-grade aluminum body
  • Built in EX II PadLocker security software (for PCS, not Macs)
  • A five-year limited warranty

Attention Facebook users: Check out Michael Berman's Jocgeek fan page at www.facebook.com/jocgeek, or follow him on Twitter @jocgeek. You can also contact him via email at jocgeek@earthlink.net.