Imation Defender F200 Biometric Flash Drive
Strengths: FIPS 140-2, level three validated; software is completely self-contained
Weaknesses: No USB 3.0
Verdict: A simple secure storage tool, not specifically for authentication alone but does what it does very well
Protecting company data within the corporate network is one thing, but what happens when you need to take that data on the road? Imation offers a simple product that makes it easy to securely fulfil that need: the Defender F200 Biometric Flash Drive.
Setup of the device was a snap. We simply plugged the drive into a free USB port, and the included Access software ran automatically. For the initial configuration, we were given two options: we could select 'typical', which configures the device for a single user with fingerprint access only; or we could select 'custom', which provided far greater control. Selecting 'custom', we specified the type of authentication we wanted - biometric plus password - and set the number of users.
Next, we set up the minimum password requirements for our users and chose a device management code that is required for a factory reset. Then we specified an administrator password, used for configuring users. After that, we were ready to create the first user. We specified a username (used for display purposes) and chose how many fingerprints we wanted to record on the device. After recording our fingerprints we set a password, and the drive was ready to use.
The F200 is a FIPS 140-2, level three validated device and it uses hardware-based AES-256 encryption, making it appropriate for use in environments with high security requirements. The included Access software, which controls configuration and login, is supported on Windows and Mac OS and is completely contained on the device, making it extremely portable.
The device supports up to ten users, but we noticed that it would also only record ten fingerprints. This restricts the number of workers allowed to use the device to fewer than ten if your corporate security policy requires more than one fingerprint to be recorded.
The product's protective metal cover does add a degree of ruggedness. However, despite Imation's marketing claims to the contrary, it shouldn't be considered a security feature as there is no way to lock it in place, and after removing the cover to actually use the device, we were presented with the common plastic one would find on any USB drive.
The F200 device does support integration with two centralised management platforms - either McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator or Imation's own Access Enterprise - allowing administrators to more efficiently manage device policies and deployment.
Imation's documentation is very good. Included on the device, the user guide is an easy-to-read PDF with plenty of screenshots and well-organised bookmarks. Our only complaint is that they neglected to include an important detail regarding factory resets. To perform a reset (what Imation terms a 'recycle'), a device management password is required. When initially configuring the device, we set it up with 'typical' settings that automatically configured much of the device for us - but it did not give us an option to specify such a password. In these cases, there is a default password that is not mentioned anywhere in the provided documentation - we had to search the online knowledgebase to discover this.
Technical support is limited to a basic, no-cost offering. Available 12-hours-a-day, five-days-a-week, Imation provides phone and email support, along with a five-year limited warranty. As mentioned above, it also maintains a knowledgebase on its website.
Pricing for the F200 starts at £86 for 2GB and £126 for the 8GB model we tested. It falls into the middle range of prices we have seen for similar devices.