Kingston Technology has released a USB flash drive that addresses the corporate market's concerns about the security of portable storage devices. USB flash drives are incredibly popular; on average, more than 1 million units are sold per week--but only a small percentage of them, about one-fifth of the total sales, are sold to corporate customers, as reported by various news sources.

Corporate users are increasingly worried about data security on portable storage devices--not, primarily, information theft, but rather the possibility of losing confidential business data if a device is misplaced. In markets such as healthcare and finance that must address regulatory compliance, data loss could potentially bring about lawsuits. As a result, few companies have been willing to risk the potential consequences of losing USB flash drives, regardless of their potential business value.

Targeting the enterprise market, Kingston has released Kingston DataTraveler Elite (DTE) Privacy Edition. DTE uses 128-bit hardware- based Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) data encryption to ensure that all the flash drive's data is secure. And because encryption is executed on the fly during the data transfer, no user intervention is required. Kingston also claims write speeds up to 14MBps and read speeds up to 24MBps. From a user's perspective, DTE is simple to use. Once the user enters a password to access the drive, the user can read and write data as if the DTE were any other secured data device, eliminating security concerns that would prevent applications from running.

For additional protection, the drive uses complex passwords and also locks out any user after 25 consecutive failed password attempts. At press time, I hadn't received a response to the question of whether or not the device is permanently locked after the lock-down sequence occurs. However, it would be a reasonable presumption that if this condition is met (25 consecutive failed password attempts), the drive is no longer in the hands of the appropriate person.

Unsurprisingly, the DTE is targeted at the enterprise. The manufacturer's suggested retail price pricing for the DTE is almost double the cost of a normal, unsecured flash drive; the DTE 256MB model starts at $48, and the 4GB unit starts at $347. Kingston obviously believes (correctly, in my opinion) that the corporate market is less price-sensitive than the consumer market and that the features and benefits offered by a secured portable storage device are worth the additional expense.