How to Secure USB Drives and Other Portable Storage Devices

May 29, 2013 – 7:50 AM

As individuals and organizations digitize more data, they become more susceptible to major data breaches. Though convenient, inexpensive USB flash memory sticks and other portable storage devices certainly don’t help the cause, because workers use them transport databases and other confidential information. On top of the real danger of misused data, major data breaches also cause damaging negative publicity.

It may seem inherently complex, but securing portable storage devices is within reach for small businesses. Here’s what organizations can do to secure their data.

Above All, Encrypt Your Data

Before discussing common methods of securing portable storage devices, it’s worth highlighting an often-underappreciated advantage of encrypting data on portable storage devices. Specifically, properly encrypted data offers a safety net against potentially embarrassing or damaging data surfacing from storage devices that were discarded or sold off.

Many businesses don’t realize how easily¬†deleted files can be retrieved¬†with off-the-shelf recovery software from mechanical storage devices such as hard disk drives (HDD) or USB drives. Reconstituting previously encrypted data, on the other hand, is far more involved, as it that requires the original credentials or even a copy of the decryption key.

An encrypted storage device with a decryption key that’s been erased, or one with a good authentication passphrase, offers a good safeguard against malicious data recovery. A thoroughly wiped or physically destroyed storage device remains the most secure defense against data leakage, though.


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