Continuing the series on encrypted and TAA compliant USB Flash drives, today we will explore another Kingston Digital product, the –
Encryption Methods (Rating – 4/5 Stars)
Like many encrypted USB flash drives, the Kingston Digital 32GB USB 256bit drive uses AES 256 in XTS mode. AES is a fairly strong cypher, especially with a 256 byte key. However, with the advent of quantum computing, key length could become more of an issue. The Cypher Block Chaining (CBC) mode is one of the most well-known modes of AES operation. However, the Kingston Digital 32GB USB 256bit drive 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 the year 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.
The Kingston Digital 32GB USB 256bit drive does not include any type of physical keypad to type in a password or PIN. The lack of this feature could reduce the overall security.
FIPS Certification and TAA compliance (Rating – 4/5 Stars)
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 Kingston Digital 32GB USB 256bit drive is certified with FIPS 140-2 Level 3, which should meet security requirements for most organizations and companies. The Kingston Digital 32GB USB 256bit drive is TAA compliant, which is increasingly an important caveat in many organizations. A brief side note, TAA compliant refers to the Trade Agreements Act (19 U.S.C. & 2501-2581) which in short is mainly applicable to US Government contracts and procurement. One of the main impacts of the TAA is that if a particular origin country is not listed (i.e. China), then the contract is not authorized to purchase the product that originated there.
Speed and Performance (Rating – 4/5 Stars)
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.
Storage Capacity (Rating – 2/5 Stars)
The storage capacity of theKingston Digital 32GB USB 256bit drive ranges from 8GB to 32GB. This is where the Kingston Digital 32GB USB 256bit drive comes up lacking. If the maximum amount of storage is only 32GB, then you will likely need multiple USB drives to store any significant quantity of data. Other vendors now support upwards of 480GB.
The Kingston Digital 32GB USB 256bit drive is offered at a slightly expensive price point. The price ranges from $42 for an 8GB drive up to $111 for a 32GB drive on Amazon. Given the features and capabilities, this seems to be a little high on price.
Kingston Digital 32GB USB 256bit drive offers mediocre capability at a somewhat high price point. Other encrypted USB falsh drives likely will provide you with better capability at a better price.