Solid Security: JumpDrive Solo Vault

GCN Lab Review: Lexar's JumpDrive Solo Vault is a pretty foolproof way to encrypt data.

It's pretty easy to keep data secure if you never let your users take it anywhere. But just like money in a mattress, it doesn't really do anything for you either. In order to be useful, data has to move around. The true challenge, then, is to make the data as secure as possible while still maintaining its portability.Lately we have seen an influx of encrypted flash drives. However, many are not compliant with the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140 for cryptography modules. Many have user interfaces that are not easy to use. And many are very expensive.The JumpDrive Solo Vault from Lexar is a secure 4G flash drive that addresses all of these areas and provides a good mix of security, usability and price. Its 256-bit encryption algorithms are certified as being FIPS 140-2 Level 1 compliant. It is reasonably easy to use and decently priced.[IMGCAP(2)]When we connected the JumpDrive to a computer, we were asked for a password. Clicking on the Hint button gave us the factory-set password, and once we used it we were taken through a process to change the password. During this we had to select three security questions from a list and provide their answers. These would be used to test us should we want to change the password in the future.Once that was done, the next thing that came up was a status window showing the drive's capacity and memory use percentage. Clicking on the Vault icon gave us access to the secure area of the drive. Now we could copy and retrieve files, which were automatically encrypted and decrypted.Even though we found this user interface easier to use than many that are out there, many users may be put off by the number of steps they have to go through to get to their files.In our file transfer test, the JumpDrive moved data to the drive at 18.5 Mbps, which is a good rate for data that is being encrypted at this level. Of course, we were able to retrieve data from the drive more quickly, at a rate of 22.8 Mbps. These rates for transfer and encryption are much slower than with an unencrypted USB device, which can usually exceed 150 Mbps.Of course, this kind of security usually completely depends upon the user's diligence in opening the vault to transfer files, instead of just copying to the unsecured area of the drive. The folks at Lexar have taken care of this, by automatically encrypting files in the unsecured area and moving them to the vault. Unfortunately, this can be overridden by hitting cancel for each file as it begins its encryption. To make this aspect totally secure, it might have been better to disallow the cancellation option.Lexar is offering the JumpDrive Solo Vault for $129.99, which is a good price for a FIPS-compliant 4G USB flash drive. Any network administrator should feel at ease knowing that portable data is as safe as it can get.[IMGCAP(1)]

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Lexar Media, Fremont, Calif., 800-789-9418, www.lexar.com

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