[Secure USB Series ①] Different Types of Secure USB Flash Drives
written by Simon
A Universal Serial Bus flash drive USB drive is a portable flash memory with an integrated USB interface, that is recognized as a disk when connected to a computer. The USB is one of the standard buses, pathways used to send and receive data between computers and peripheral devices, that became widely used in the late 1990s. Flash memory is a type of semiconductor that can save and store data. It differs from read-only memory ROM, which is unable to delete or modify data once it is saved, or random-access memory RAM, in which the data can be modified but are lost once the power is removed. Instead, the data on flash drives can be saved, deleted, and modified freely and are preserved even if the power is cut off.
A USB drive’s small size so small that they are called “thumb” drives, unmatched memory capacity, and versatility with data modification have made it the choice portable storage device for a long time. However, as observed from incidents of personal medical information leakages in hospitals, inadvertent misplacement of a firm’s valuable information can cause a great cost as well as devastating damage to the reputation of the institution. Also, from the Snowden Case, we can see that it can be a tool for employees to leak extensive internal information. Thus, in recent years, it has become more common for companies to entirely remove USB ports or at least to place stricter restrictions on USB usage.
However, USB drives are still used widely for convenience. Especially in places where security is emphasized but USB use is a necessity, security enhanced USB drive use is prevalent.
Secure USBs can be classified into two types by the method of protecting information in the USB drive: encrypted USB and copy-protected USB.
Encrypted USB flash drives are categorized according to the method of information protection, by the software method, which uses an encryption software, and the hardware method, which utilizes encryption chips. Both methods encrypt the USB drive and set a password to login so that only users with the password can access the information.
Copy-protected USB flash drives are used to allow access to the files within the memory but prevent files from being copied to the outside. It is mainly used for USB copy protection for mass distribution of audio and video file content or business files, such as Office Word and CAD.