DataTraveler Secure PE
Strengths: Very strong encryption in a heavy-duty form factor. Not possible to store data in clear text.
Weaknesses: Needs centralized management and data recovery. A bit pricey.
Verdict: Not recommended as a corporate offering, but is recommended for individuals who need very strong encryption with a foolproof way of storing sensitive data.
The Kingston DataTraveler Secure Privacy Edition is a USB thumb drive that encrypts everything on it all the time. Unlike other encrypted USB memory sticks, the DataTraveler Secure Privacy Edition (not to be confused with the simpler DataTraveler Secure) does not permit unencrypted data to be stored.
Use of the drive is simplicity itself. Simply plug it in and it presents the administration screen. Once you’ve set the password, every time you plug the device into the USB port the management program loads in the tray automatically. The drive is then accessed as any other drive volume, and administration is accomplished by right-clicking on the icon in the tray.
There is no clean way to administer the product centrally, but Kingston tells us that centralized administration is in the works. The closest one can currently get is to share the drives over the network and administer the device when it is on line. Still, there is no separate administrative password that allows data recovery and one must know the user’s password. We see that as a major drawback in a corporate environment.
Encryption is strong — AES-256 — and the device locks after a predetermined number of password failures. When that happens, the only option is to re-format the drive, destroying all stored data.
Support is excellent. Everything necessary is on the website. Documentation is adequate and, although originally available for Windows 2000 and XP, the support site has downloadable drivers for Vista. All drivers are self-contained on the drive and are not accessible by users. We performed forensic analysis of the drive, both when a user was logged in and prior to login. We couldn’t compromise the product.
We found the product to be a bit pricey for what it offers. It definitely is not appropriate for large enterprises until some form of centralized management is available. However, with its extremely robust encryption it is a good choice for the road warrior who needs to be sure that sensitive data is protected.