Imation IronKey F200 Flash Drive
Strengths: Very secure with the ability to add central manageability at any time.
Weaknesses: It’s not a big issue for most users, but the lack of USB 3.0 support will slightly slow power users or individuals moving large files.
Verdict: Great price point and advanced security.
The Imation IronKey F200 Flash Drive is a simple, easy to set up and extremely secure device for users who need to transport confidential data between computers. Because of its non-involved setup, users who are not necessarily tech savvy can suddenly equip themselves with top-tier protection. It is available in 8, 16, 32 and 64 gigabyte variations, which allows organisations to purchase the F200 based on the storage needs of individual users. For extra security and manageability, the enterprise version of the management software can be purchased. This allows organisations to centrally manage and provision secure flash drives across the enterprise.
For our tests, we received the 8GB model in a small package. After unpacking the device, we were greeted with what appears externally to be no more than a very sturdy flash drive. After removing the sleek metal cover, it is immediately obvious that this tool means business. The sturdiness aspect is further exemplified by the internal device construction and the biometric sensor lies in an ergonomic groove for easy swiping. We plugged it into one of our lab machines, which automatically opened the Imation Access software - the gateway to the device. Once it is connected, two drives automatically install on the system. The first appears as a virtual CD-ROM drive, where the system files live. The second appears as a removable disk named LOCKED. We followed the software through the GUI wizard, which was where we configured the device. Here, we were prompted to create an administrator password. After we did that, it prompted us for the number of users we wanted to create. After we configured a test user, we configured some of the various security options available to finish setup.
As far as security is concerned, the Imation IronKey F200 is an excellent choice. By default, the device operates in biometric-only mode, but users who opt to go through the advanced options in the setup are afforded several more options. Two-factor authentication can be enabled, which to unlock the device requires both the user's unique password, as well as their fingerprint. The device can also be set to erase itself after a user-defined number of failed swipe attempts. Users can rest assured that their files are securely stored by the F200's AES 256 bit encryption. The F200 has also achieved FIPS 140-2 Level 3 validation.
One feature we really liked is the ease of mounting it read only. When logging into the device, the user is prompted to enable the device as read only. This provides an extra layer of security for users transporting very sensitive documents or users connecting to devices they suspect may contain malware. Because the F200 uses hardware encryption, once it has been set up it is supported by virtually every device that accepts USB disks. The only drawback we could find was its speed. Read speeds were average, but writing large files took a long time. This is likely due to the F200 using legacy USB 2.0, but could also have to do with the overhead required by the encryption hardware.
Along with the system software, the unencrypted public area of the drive also includes documentation - a getting-started guide for the hardware as well as a user manual for the software. The hardware manual includes various images detailing installation as well as installation of the included key loop. The software guide covers setup as well as day-to-day use. Both guides are informative and helpful throughout setup. Both are free of any errors and include images and screen shots where appropriate.
Imation provides basic support free of charge for the F200 available eight-hours-a-day/five-days-a-week. Basic support includes access to resources by phone and telephone, as well as an online knowledge base and FAQ list.
Because of its advanced security, we find this solution to be useful with a reasonable price tag. The granularity aspect of purchasing makes it affordable for organisations of all sizes. As the enterprise grows, the centralised management software can be added, which increases the value of the device as a long-term investment.