Authenex A-Key 4000 Token
Strengths: Small USB key with strong encryption, easy to use, reasonably priced
Weaknesses: Not suitable for large enterprises
Verdict: Great little encrypted USB drive for smaller enterprises that might not implement more sophisticated removable media data protection
This little USB storage device provides encrypted storage for data up to a gigabyte, with all access controls embedded in the product. However, forensic analysis of the tool failed to reveal any useful information such as passwords or keys. Likewise, when we attempted to extract data forensically without logging onto the A-Key properly, our efforts failed. Encryption is AES, which is adequate for most commercial applications.
The user volume contains a folder called My Documents where all data being saved on the key is stored. All login files are on the token, which means you can use it on any computer without having to install special software.
We found that updates to files stored on the token take a while, a problem Authenex acknowledges, but the implication is that this is an MS Windows failure. The A-Key recognises when the host computer is going to sleep and logs the user off automatically. The key can be used in a non-secure mode (no password), but there really is no point to that.
Authenex A-Key 4000 comes with an administration program that the user or the administrator installs on the computer to be used to administrate the key. We do not recommend the A-Key for large enterprises because it cannot be centrally administrated over the network.
The only way to administrate the key in an enterprise is to prepare the key and then distribute it to the user. The user can change the password, leaving the administrator password for the IT department to manage. For small enterprises, this may be acceptable, but it is awkward for large organisations.
Therefore, if there is encrypted critical data on the key and the employee leaves the organisation, you can retrieve the encrypted data if you have the administrator password. Since there is no centralised administration, you must physically access the key. Finally, should a user forget his or her password, the same support issues arise.
Product support for the A-Key is good, and although you must register, it comes with the product. However, all help is via the website. There is no phone support, but for this simple product we cannot see a need for it. The A-Key carries a one-year warranty and Authenex will replace it if it is defective.