Today we take a look at the Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 240 GB FIPS 140-2 Level 3 Validated 256-bit Encryption USB 3.0 Flash Drive (ASK3-240GB), as we continue our series of encrypted flash drive reviews. There are many great features to like about this device, and a few considerations to take into account before purchasing one.
Like many encrypted USB drives, the Aegis Secure key uses AES-256. AES is a fairly strong cypher, especially with a 256 byte key. AES has multiple modes that it can operate with. Cypher Block Chaining (CBC) is one of the most well-known modes of AES operation. However, the Aegis Secure Key uses the XTS (XEX-based tweaked-codebook mode with cipher text stealing) mode. The XTS mode was fairly recently standardized. IEEE standardized XTS mode in 2007 and NIST released standard publication 800-38E in 2010, so there have only been a few years of wide standard use to evaluate the strength of XTS mode. The original goal of XTS mode was to increase the security level of AES-CBC by trying to prevent side channel attacks. There are still a few open discussions regarding the security of XTS mode, but it appears to be fairly secure.
One of the unique feature of the Aegis Secure key is the keypad physically attached to the device. A 7 – 16 character PIN is required to unlock the memory stick. Independent user and admin PINs are part of the feature set for those in corporations or government that require higher level administrative management of the encrypted flash drive. Having the keypad on the device could prevent key logging on an infected system. However, be aware that the device contains a small battery which could conceivably run out of juice at some point in time. The product ships with a 3 year warranty, so it may be best to replace the device after 3 years.
FIPS Certification and TAA compliance
Many customers in the market for an encrypted USB flash drive are looking to comply with regulations or requirements. Frequently one of the requirements is a FIPS certification. The Aegis Secure key is certified with FIPS 140-2 Level 3, which should meet security requirements for most organizations and companies. The Aegis secure key is TAA compliant, which is increasingly an important caveat in many organizations.
Speed and Performance
The USB 3.0 interface allows for a much faster transfer of information to and from the device. The older USB 2.0 standard allowed for a maximum of 60MBytes/second. The USB 3.0 standard can theoretically transfer at much higher data rates, close to 600MBytes/sec.
The storage capacity of the Aegis secure key ranges from 8GB to 480GB. This is one of the strengths of the product. If you plan to make an investment in an encrypted USB flash drive, go big with the storage capacity. You can easily eat up multiple GB of storage on standard files and once the storage is used, it’s used.
The Aegis Secure Key is offered at a fairly attractive price point. The price ranges from $99 for 8GB to $375 for 480GBon Amazon. Given the features and capabilities, this seems to be a reasonable price.
Aegis Secure Key offers outstanding capability at an attractive price point. Recommended for organizations and home users that require secure encrypted USB flash drives of various storage capacities.