Flash drives are small, convenient and portable – for these reasons they are also easy to lose so it’s essential to make your USB flash drive secure. Drives are cheap to replace, but the data could be confidential, like files from work, or irreplaceable, like digital images. To prevent this, users can make a USB flash drive secure to protect their data from unauthorized access or they can buy a secure flash drive.
There have been some well publicized examples of security breaches as a result of unsecured USB drives. In the UK, HM Revenue and Customs lost the details of 6,500 pension holders when a USB device was mislaid and in America a stolen USB drive, stored with classified US Army information, was put up for sale in Afghanistan.
To combat this, some flash drives are equipped with embedded hardware encryption but if not, there are software solutions which allow the content of a USB disc to be encrypted automatically. Operating systems like Windows 7 and the Apple Mac OS X provide software for data encryption which allows a password to be added to the drive. And in terms of hardware, some machines have programs that automatically overwrite the contents of a drive if the wrong password is entered after a prescribed amount of chances.
These security measures have been introduced because their popularity with consumers and businesses continues to increase. They are commonly used to store data in place of CDs or DVDs and are used to transfer information from one of the many different computer devices with USB connectivity.
Laptops, notebooks, tablets, PDAs, cell phones, portable gaming systems, portable music systems and printers often come with USB ports and some allow direct transfer from a flash disc. With the growth in portable devices, there’s an added danger that data could be compromised.
Since flash drives were introduced in 2000, they have become increasingly popular with both consumers and companies. There are a lot of different USB drives on the market. Some are made for mini USB ports, others are water and shock resistant. They are available in different colors and with either plastic or flexible rubber cases.
Others come with belt hooks or key rings and there are novelty ones modeled on consumer products like cars and footballs or food like burgers or chocolate bars. Some are shaped like a key and towards the end of the year, Christmas Tree shaped ones become commonplace. In common with other computer goods, the size of the memory and the access speeds have improved with time, whilst prices have fallen.
Today they are not only sold in specialist computer stores or online retailers. They are available in electronics shops, CD and DVD retailers as well as supermarkets and convenience stores. They can store up to 256 GB of information and often allow 1 million write or erase cycles. They weight around 30 grams and are durable because of the lack of moving parts. They can be read by computers with operating systems like Linux, Mac OS X and Windows as well as other devices like PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, DVD players and some mobile smartphones.