In 2000, just after the publication of the USB 2.0 standard, the first usb type c flash drives were released on the market. USB flash drives have become ubiquitous over the past two decades. The technologies that they use have improved significantly: larger capacities, smaller sizes, compatibility and more with USB-C, among other things.
The widespread adoption of USB drives has led to new security threats. Most USB drives lack security features making it difficult to store and transport data.
Here are four best practices and solutions to protect your USB drives.
- Encrypted USB Drives
It is possible to protect your data from being accessed by anyone but you, so that it does not fall into the wrong hands. This is the main purpose of an encrypted USB stick.
An encrypted USB drive employs a type of hardware encryption. This means that the drive has a chip specifically for data encryption. Most encrypted USB drives come paired with companion software by the same manufacturer.
You will need to open the companion program, which will allow you to set a password, before you plug in an encrypted waterproof usb c. After that, you can insert or remove files just like you would with any other drive.
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The encryption chip scrambles and encrypts all data and files once you unplug it. To access your data, you’ll need to run the companion software every time you plug it in. Security is the main advantage. The primary advantage is security. Even if the drive is lost, a potential thief can’t access its contents if they don’t have your password.
The main drawback is the price. The primary drawback is the cost. Encrypted flash drives are more expensive than standard bulk flash drives. Companion software can be paid or free, while some require a monthly subscription.
- Whole Drive Encryption
Software encryption is the most popular alternative to hardware encryption. There are two types: whole-drive encryption or individual file encryption.
There are many software options available for whole-drive encryption, both paid and free. However, these solutions are not necessary today. Modern operating systems include free, built-in drive encryption tools. These include BitLocker for Windows and the macOS Disk Utility encryption feature.
BitLocker can encrypt on a USB-C stick. All data will be inaccessible until it is decrypted again.
You can only decrypt the drive by inserting it into BitLocker on a computer and entering the password that you created during encryption.
- Individual File Encryption
You can also use encryption software to protect files and archives only, while the rest of your drive remains accessible. If you have a mix of secure and unsecured data, or want partial encryption for your flash drives, this may be a better option.
There are many file encryption options available online, both paid and free. AxCrypt VeraCrypt and Folder lock are popular Windows options. Mac users might have heard of Concealer and Encrypto. The password settings of popular file archive software like WinRAR and 7-Zip can be used.
No matter what software you use to open files, they all work in the same way. You can select individual files, folders, or archives from your USB drive and set a password to encrypt them. If the file is encrypted, you will be prompted to enter a password when trying to open it (even if the software is not installed).
- Secure Erase
The standard methods of deleting files from a USB stick (e.g. Right-click > Delete), do not permanently delete them. The “Delete” function makes the file invisible and is available for overwriting.
Even if files are not visible by your operating system, a Data Recovery Program can reconstruct the files and undelete them. This could allow an unauthorized individual access to sensitive files.
Secure erase (or secure wipe!) your drive after each use is a recommended security practice. The recommended method for Windows is to use and the diskpart function at the command prompt. On Mac, the erase function is equivalent.
Secure erase should be considered a complement to existing data security protocols, not a replacement. If you lose your drive before you can delete its contents, it will not protect your data.