USB Protection Software: Pros and Cons

by Rod Dunne on January 28, 2011

in Hardware, Security

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USB protection is an increasingly important subject for employees working in government or financial institutions. Safeguarding the contents of customer data stored on USB drives is essential whether through software or hardware devices. In this article I’ll show you some of the pros and cons of using software utilities in order to protect the contents of USB drives using password protection.

While this is critical for employees storing customer data on USB drives, these software utilities can be used by just about anyone. After all, there are plenty of low cost data recovery applications available which can easily scan the USB drives for any signs of lost, corrupted or hidden data.

There are a number of different vendors currently providing USB protection software including the likes of True Crypt, BitLocker To Go and FreeOTFE. In general, these tools all work toward the same principles of using algorithms to encrypt the USB contents. Some of these programs can even provide synchronization features which allow you to clone copy between the secure USB drive as your computer.

Pros of USB protection software

  • Reuse of existing USB keys. This can be a swaying factor for many people and companies since they already have a large amount of cheap USB flash drives available. You simply need to install the software and set up the password protection.
  • Synchronization with computer backup software. Many organizations choose to use USB drives as a way of backing up employees personal data. Many commercial options are available for doing this and being able to synchronize USB protection along with synchronization can provide a powerful and effective way of safeguarding data.

Cons of USB protection software

  • Weak passwords. The major danger is the use of weak passwords by users. Even if the algorithm used by the USB protection software is complex, it could still be deciphered given enough time if the password is relatively weak or known. For this reason, it is essential to also ensure employees use complex passwords (length, use of alpha/numeric text).

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