IronKey Personal/Enterprise review

The 'world's most secure flash drive' for those sensitive data
Photo of IronKey Personal/Enterprise
from £65 (£167 for 16GB model)

With hackers and malicious users becoming increasingly creative in the ways they go about stealing data, those dealing with sensitive information on the move would do well to consider a device that’s designed to combat this threat. IronKey claims to be “world’s most secure flash drive”, and with both personal and enterprise versions available represents a good all-round solution.

IronKey certainly seems built for the task, and is supplied encased in a heavy-set steel chassis that’s waterproof and tamper-resistant. It offers “always on” military grade encryption along with a range of custom software and additional control that’ll help ensure your data is almost impossible to access without your knowledge.

Our only issue with the design is that the cap isn’t tethered to the device, and can’t be attached to the bottom, so we could see it getting lost without proper care.

How IronKey works
When the IronKey is first connected, you’re prompted to initialise it by entering a password, whereupon a colour bar indicates the strength of the string you’ve chosen. If you prefer, the password can be entered using a virtual keyboard for added security (to avoid the possibility that your password could be captured by keyloggin software that could be present, unknown to you, on your system). The password can be securely backed up online in case it’s forgotten.

After activation is complete you’ll find a range of software installed that includes a secure version of Firefox that runs from teh key itself and offers access to the internet without leaving any trace on the host computer, a secure password manager and a tool to create encrypted backups.

An online registration procedure is also required, where an email address can be entered so that you can be sent notifications if there is any suspicious activity within the account, and additional security in the form of secret questions and answers will help you recover your data if a password is forgotten.

Online dashboard
The online dashboard then allows access to recent activity logs, the ability to disable or erase lost keys remotely, as well as controlling additional features. Furthermore, a secret image will be displayed when you log into your account to validate the site and prevent against phishing attacks, and a secret phrase displayed in every email sent from IronKey to reassures you that it’s legitimate.

By this point, you should be getting a fair idea of exactly how comprehensive IronKey’s level of security is. It even includes physical security in case the device is broken into, with an electronic wire mesh surrounding the key components that, if broken, will force the device to erase itself when connected to a computer.

We’ve tested a fair few security-oriented data storage devices and can say that this offers the most comprehensive and well thought-out protection for sensitive data we’ve seen yet, and for business users things get even better.

IronKey Enterprise
The bulk of this review focuses on the ‘Personal’ edition of IronKey, but an enterprise version is also available that offers similar peace of mind for those dealing with sensitive data in a business environment – along with a number of extra features.

IronKey Enterprise works by setting up an administrator account (though you’re strongly urged to have two for safety), and distributing additional keys amongst employees as needed.

The keys are linked upon registration and the administrator retains full control over devices, with the ability to remotely disable/enable or wipe a device, trace it via IP location if connected, and change typical behaviour – for example, increasing or decreasing the number of failed password attempts allowed.

Specific policies can be set up for individual users to control access and backup privileges and an activity log of all registered devices can be viewed so that you can make sure they’re being used properly.

With this degree of control, added to the excellent security standards described above, we’re pretty convinced that with the right management it’d be all but impossible to steal data from a safeguarded IronKey device.

Company: Ironkey

Website: http://www.ironkey.com/

Contact: IronKey on 0203 1782865

Positives
  • Solid build and superb level of protection and controll; secure browser feature.
Negative
  • A little expensive for those with 'casual' security concerns.

Verdict

For those looking for a secure and versatile device to store sensitive data on and carry around, we think IronKey's solution is one of the best yet. It ticks all the boxes in terms of combating modern threats and offers complete peace of mind, even if lost or stolen.