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All On A USB Stick

USB flash drives have become ubiquitous, among both tech professionals and consumers. They're used to pass along product information at trade shows, as a means to take your data and apps with you (when your MP3 player doesn't have enough space), as a backup device -- and as a fashion statement.
USB flash drives have become ubiquitous, among both tech professionals and consumers. They're used to pass along product information at trade shows, as a means to take your data and apps with you (when your MP3 player doesn't have enough space), as a backup device -- and as a fashion statement.In fact, these handy little devices are also becoming capable of doing more than just simply storing data. At least two companies at Interop have looked to USB drives to offer a way to provide security for systems.

MXI Security is offering a line of portable security devices that includes the Stealth MXP, a USB drive that not only provides password authentication, but biometric (i.e., fingerprinting) authentication as well, along with identity authorization. I caught a demo of the product at Interop, and it seemed to be a good solution for businesses that need portable security devices for, say, employees who work off-site, with the added attraction of up to 4 Gbytes of storage space for data. (And the drives have retractable ports, which are always handy.)

A somewhat different solution is being touted by EncryptaKey, which plans to make USB flash drives that include a biometric scanner, RFID, and Bluetooth, and which will be used to provide security for personal information and other sensitive data. According to Kelly Owen, the company's CEO, the 8-Gbyte drive will contain the Linux-based EK OS -- users will use this operating system, rather than the computer's, to transmit sensitive information to vendors and other partners, thus preventing any data theft caused by contamination of the host computer. The product is still in the development stage and will most likely be offered to enterprises first as a way to handle their own data security.

Editor's Choice
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer