Encryption is a very useful method to protect data stored on portable devices such as external hard drives and USB flash drives. These devices are very essential in storing memory and data, especially for individuals. With encryption, only the person or the owner who is in possession of the accurate encryption key can decode it. Thus, when the situation arises resulting in the loss of these devices when the user is able to encrypt data with a USB key, it cannot be accessed or used by unauthorized users.
There are many types of USB flash drive.
USB 1.1 is the earliest version which has the purpose of supporting devices at a lower speed such as mouse and keyboard. Depending on the devices, it can operate in two modes, the low-speed mode, and the full speed mode. The low-speed mode allows data transfer at 1.5 Mbps while the high-speed mode allows data transfer at 12 Mbps.
USB 2.0, on the other hand, is the newer version. It supports devices faster but the device has to be designed for USB 2.0 such as flash drives and hard disks. With the USB 2.0 data is transferred faster at 480 Mbps.
USB 3.0 is ever faster and newer, operating are super speed featuring data transfer modes that can reach up to 5 Gbps. Most devices today are eligible and ready with a system which supports USB 3.0
Using a USB Flash Drive has many advantages such as its convenience since it is extremely small and therefore can fit in the user’s pocket or purse, very convenient for transporting, it does not contain any moving parts thus it is very durable and long lasting, USB flash drives’ storage is ever increasing with its price also decreasing, it is widely supported by many computer systems and it uses considerably less power compared to external hard drives.
According to Symantec’s How Drive Encryption Works, there are various strategies when encrypting data and assuring that it’s privacy is maintained. With drive encryption, disks can be protected in cases of qualified theft or incidental loss as it encrypts the whole disk along with the system files, swap files, and hibernation files. If the encrypted disk has been lost or stolen and inserted into another computer, the encryption remains intact to assure that only the authorized owner or user can access the contents.
Nevertheless, drive encryption cannot protect the data when the user has logged in into a system during startup and has consequently left the computer unattended. During these cases, the encrypted system has been unlocked, thus unauthorized users now have the ability and capacity to access the system. File encryption is most useful in these situations as it provides an additional layer of security in cases when the drive encryption has been breached.
The steps in encrypting a USB can be done in just a few simple steps. First, the USB flash drive must be inserted, open My Computer of Windows Explorer, right click on the flash drive and select Turn on BitLocker from the menu. After the BitLocker has prepared the flash drive, the wizard will then prompt the user to choose how you want to unlock the device, passwords will allow the drive to be unlocked in any location and to be shared with certain people. The wizard will then prompt the user to store a recovery key in case the user forgets the password, the recovery key must not be saved on the flash drive you are encrypting. The user will then click on the save the recovery key to a file and in the save BitLocker recovery key as dialog, the user must then browse to a suitable location then click Save. Click next. Then click Start Encrypting. The user must not remove the USB flash drive until the encryption process is complete.
In the year 2013, the encryption algorithm has shown much development with features such as Advanced Encryption 256. AES 256 is used in order to meet the Federal Information Standard 140 which requires level 2. Encryption is continuously developing and improving throughout the years, coming out every year with new features and breakthrough innovations.
An encrypted flash drive is very essential in order to assure the protection of a USB flash drive especially if it is used to store very important and private data. Users should take steps to encrypt data with a USB key to avoid unauthorized use of information from flash drives.