best hardware encrypted flash drive?

Discussion in 'privacy technology' started by daviezeee, Oct 31, 2013.

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  1. daviezeee

    daviezeee Registered Member

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    I am considering buying a flash drive with Hardware encryption, the type that has a physical keyboard on the flash drive. I am not planning to rely on this 100% as I will still use Truecrypt encryption, however I thought it might provide an extra layer of security incase my Truecrypt is compromised with malicious software such as a keylogger etc.

    From my research, I think I may go for one of the following:

    1)iStorage DatAshur
    http://www.istorage-uk.com/datashur.php

    2)LoK-it
    http://www.lok-it.net/

    3)Aegis Secure Key
    http://www.apricorn.com/products/hardware-encrypted-drives/aegis-secure-key.html



    I have to admit I know nothing about these and don't want to fall for any of the marketing hype. For example one drive on the market from Corsair can be compromised very easily with just a soldering iron and a resister. Have a look at these pages regarding the Corsair padlock:

    http://veerboot.tweakblogs.net/blog/561/corsair-padlock-hacking.html
    http://www.exploit-db.com/papers/15424/


    So what do people think about Hardware Encrypted drives, does anyone have any recomendations of a secure drive? Are the ones I listed good choices?
     
  2. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79 Registered Member

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  3. daviezeee

    daviezeee Registered Member

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    Why do you suggest ironKey? It does not include a keypad for entering passwords on the device. This means it is vulnerable to key loggers. I know it has a virtual keyboard that can be clicked with a mouse, however there are still exploits. For these reasons I think the safest approach is one where you enter your password on a keypad before you even plug it into the computer.
     
  4. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79 Registered Member

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    None of my USB flash drives have keypads - the computer does! IronKey uses military grade security. The IronKey control panel software is Section 508 Compliant.

    If you don't trust your computer with networking disabled, then back it up, and do a fresh install disconnected from the network! Then use the virtual keyboard to enter your password for the device.

    -- Tom
     
  5. daviezeee

    daviezeee Registered Member

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    I fully understand the security, exactly the same way Truecrypt, PGP and other strong encryption work, however my point is they are all vulnerable to key loggers. Can't see the point in Iron Key. We already have good free software for encryption so why buy Iron Key - it adds nothing extra. My point is if you go for a flash drive with it's own keypad and couple that with something like Truecrypt then you a one step ahead.
     
  6. LockBox

    LockBox Registered Member

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    Integral is my favorite hardware encrypted flash drive. They are serious and I'd pay extra for the physical and design protection of FIPS 140-2 certification.

    I don't agree that the devices with on-board keypads are any more safe. It actually leads to more complexity in execution.

    Hardware encryption is the way to go, and the dual system with TC is fine, but don't think those without keypads or combination-style numbers on the drive itself are any more safe. As long as the encryption is handled on the drive itself with its own co-processor, you're fine.

    As for keyloggers, if you're already feeling compromised and protecting against keyloggers - game's over. Start over and make sure you have a clean system. Keyloggers working at boot are rare and easy to defeat. You shouldn't be worrying about them. If you are, I would deal with that before thinking about hardware encrypted flash drives.
     
  7. daviezeee

    daviezeee Registered Member

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    Why not? If they are no more safe why don't you just stick to free open source software encryption?

    You can never be 100% sure that there is no malicious software on the computer, particularity if you ever use a computer at work, university etc. Plus what about if you ever bought a second hand computer? Sure you can wipe the hard drive and start again, however how do you know there is nothing operating at a real low level such as in the bios? With a physical keyboard on the flash drive you completely bypass the computer and nothing on there can obtain your password. why is that not better, especially if you couple that with software encryption as well? plus a flash drive with a physical keyboard is a lot more versatile and os independent. You can use it with things like printers, camera's, whereas iron key etc you can't. Again why do you think something with a physical keyboard has no advantage?
     
  8. S.B.

    S.B. Registered Member

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    Given the rapidly snowballing revelations of hidden NSA fingers in everything it's hard to understand why anyone would place any trust in hardware encryption. I don't trust it and definitely would not pay any manufacturer for a totally closed, opaque, unknown and untested encryption scheme. Hardware encryption is nothing more than a handful of untested and untestable promises; virtual snake oil. Or should I say military grade, virtual snake oil?

    Which is the best military grade virtual snake oil?

    What's behind door number three?

    __
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2013
  9. daviezeee

    daviezeee Registered Member

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    I had doubts about this myself, that's why nobody should rely on hardware encryption 100%. That's why I propose to use hardware encryption but also use Truecrypt containers on the drive.
     
  10. S.B.

    S.B. Registered Member

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    I saw and should have noted the reasonable precautions in your original post.

    It's your money. Still I wonder whether you really want to pay good money for a product feature that is inherently due-diligence-proof. Why not invest in the fastest flash drive; or the drive with the strongest or most waterproof case? Or something; anything that you can at least evaluate?

    __
     
  11. Enigm

    Enigm Registered Member

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    Iron-Key is an excellent choice, if you can get it cheap,
    because it is one of the few flash-drives on the market to use SLC-NAND RAM.
    It's built like a tank, FIPS-compliant (or certified) guaranteeing nothing,
    and an excellent choice for a portable drive to store the TC-volumes you put the really sensitive stuff in, on .
    Because of the SLC and sturdy construction .

    Most, if not all, hardware-encryption can not be trusted,
    because it is impossible to verify implementation, often due to 'IP'-nonsense .
     
  12. daviezeee

    daviezeee Registered Member

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    So how would ironkey add any extra security if I am already using Truecrypt volumes? It is susceptible to keyloggers in exactly the same way Truecrypt is. At least if I use a USB flash drive which has it's own keypad there is zero chance of the password being compromised. I really don't see the point in using Truecrypt and Ironkey at the same time. It really gives you no extra security.
     
  13. x942

    x942 Guest

    The ironkey adds security because it's hardware encryption. This means several things:

    1) Evil maid attack don't work (can't modify hardware as a keylogger)
    2) Cold boot/RAM attacks don't work as the encryption key is never in RAM
    3) Encryption can NOT be disabled
    4) wiping/Selfdesructing after 10 failed attempts ONLY works in hardware crypto. As the counter can't be reset.

    You are right that an external key pad is better against keyloggers but thats about it.
     
  14. daviezeee

    daviezeee Registered Member

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    Thats interesting what you say about the counter not being able to be reset since I was reading about a drive where hackers were able to completely bypass the counter circuit and mount the chip on a PCB board to connect to a computer. I know Ironkey say that the chip can't be physically removed due to tamper protection, however how confident of this can you be sure? I would like to see what a material scientist would make of this? Are they really saying there are no chemical processes that can break down the physical coating that the chip is encased in? What about a material / chemical scientist that has access to a laboratory?
     
  15. LockBox

    LockBox Registered Member

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    About physical tampering....that's why I said in my post that you should spend the extra money for FIPS 140-2. And, I should have said with at least a "level 2" certification, which provides for visual confirmation of tampering. (Integral, for example, has an overall "level 2" certificate, but is actually higher in some areas tested.)

    Hardware encryption has many advantages over software, beginning with the fact everything takes place on the chip embedded within the flash drive casing. If you feel the need, use in combination with TC and it's a solid set-up.

    As for the possibilities of tampering with a FIPS certification, who knows? I certainly doubt anybody is getting in the drives I use. We DO know that a software-based encryption scheme can be attacked an infinite number of times due to the ability to just image the drive. That doesn't work with hardware encryption.

    Edited to add: I haven't seen the IronKey drives since IronKey itself left the business and sold the use of their name to Imation. I know that Imation has released drives with the name, but have no idea if they are of the caliber of the old, true "IronKey" flash drives.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2013
  16. J_L

    J_L Registered Member

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    Once they have physical access, your physical keyboard is of little use as well. With the limited characters, cracking will be far easier than Truecrypt.

    As for the keyloggers argument, why would you expose such important information to potentially compromised computers in the first place?
     
  17. daviezeee

    daviezeee Registered Member

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    I completely agree with you, that's why I would not say these drives that self destruct after x attempts are any more secure than Truecrypt, since if they remove the chip form the device, make a custom PCB board which bypasses the time reset circuit and enables the direct connection to a computer, then so called maximum failed attempts are useless. I have even seen websites where hackers have done this. So in my view this is a gimmick.

    The only reason why I like the idea with a physical keyboard is to add a minimal extra security layer to complement Truecrypt (not replace it) I have to say I am worried about keyloggers. I use linux myself (always booting into RAM) which is much safer, however how can you be 100% sure there is nothing malicious on there? What about if someone has found a new way to compromise a system which is almost impossible to detect. I am thinking real low level stuff such as in the Bios etc. What about if somone breaks into your house and messes with your stuff so you don't know it? And before you start thinking I need a tin hat - I have had people break into the house before and steal very personal things. It made me feel like I was raped and am still recoving. I never want that to ever happen again.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2013
  18. J_L

    J_L Registered Member

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    If the system is compromised, the hardware encryption password isn't what my worries would focus on, but you're free to add whatever you wish.
     
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