GCN LAB REVIEWS
IronKey Enterprise gives admins total control of secure drives
- By John Breeden II
- Sep 29, 2010
We’ve reviewed IronKey single-user drives in the lab before, so we knew what to expect from this rugged portable storage company. Individual IronKeys are fast flash drives with between 1G and 16G capacity. You need to enter a password to access their data, and if you get it wrong too many times, the key drive will actually self-destruct, erasing the data and destroying the drive so that it can never be used again.
IronKeys can be dropped from great heights and go underwater. One of our lab techs even ran over one with a car, though by accident. But one thing they didn’t do was easily deploy across an entire enterprise, until now.
Pros: Waterproof and rugged; resists physical tampering; great admin interface.
Cons: Need to pay a license fee each year per drive to maintain enterprise service.
Rugged level: A
Ease of use: A+
Government price: $299 for 16G flash drive plus $24 per year, per drive
10 rugged devices that are fit for all seasons
The IronKey Enterprise suite is software that makes deploying and monitoring your flash drives a very simple process. It turns your administrator into a powerful information protector who can wipe drives at will, track where in the world they are being used, and easily deploy hundreds or even thousands of keys in an afternoon.
When you first get your new IronKeys, you set one or several up as administrator models. Those are the most powerful keys on your network. From there, you can go about deploying all the others and setting security policies. After you get your policies in place, you can distribute all the drives to those who will need them. They won’t do anything until users get an e-mail from an admin, inviting them into the system. When they insert their keys for the first time, all the policies your admins have put in place will download to the key drive.
And you have a lot of choices for the security settings. For example, you can require that each time a drive is inserted into a computer, it tunnels back to your home servers to prove that it’s valid. Admins can easily see real-time records of who is using a drive, how many missed passwords have been entered, and even where in the world the key is being used.
You could restrict use of the keys to within the United States if you wanted. Trying to access them from another country would trigger a security alert, which could instantly wipe the drive. And admins can insert their specialized keys into a computer to access all the management functions, because you don’t want just anyone to have that much power in an agency.
The only problem with the Enterprise system is that it costs $24 per year per drive to maintain it. That can add up if you have a lot of devices, and it’s a cost that continues over time. But if security is paramount in your agency — you know who you are — this is one key you’ll want to turn. It protects your data against the elements, elite spies and common thieves.
IronKey Enterprise, www.ironkey.com
John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.