This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Crypteks; the opinions represented are 100% my own.
Picture this: You’re responsible for keeping the launch codes of a top secret military weapon safe. Do you keep them on your laptop for any novice hacker to peruse and steal, or do you keep this data locked away in a USB drive that combines hardware encryption with an actual physical lock that has 14,348,907 possible combinations? If you have have a Crypteks USB on hand, the latter is possible.
Recently presented on Kickstarter, the Crypteks USB is one of those projects that stands out among a sea of so-so concepts and unrealistic ideas. Not only is Crypteks backed by thorough research, but its engineering team has worked tirelessly to create a design that is both elegant and secure — a far cry from the usual clunky and mediocre design concepts we see coming out of the security and privacy sector, today.
Crypteks has a unique design that combines solid aluminum alloy construction with a complex locking mechanism reminiscent of the Cryptex out of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. Five dials, each displaying laser-etched lettering, align between two end-caps adorned with red dots that indicate where the correct combination needs to be placed in order for the USB stick to be removed. A small release button on one end makes sure that the USB stick never gets jammed within the unit.
The majority of the internal mechanics are made out of an ultra-high-grade aluminum alloy, and a special finish is in place to keep dust and fingerprints from tarnishing the look of the product’s outer layer.
Internal springs are made of a high-tensile-strength stainless spring steel that’s specially designed for a stop-motion when turning the outer rings. Because of this, the Crypteks USB should last quite a while.
The Crypteks USB measures 3.1″ by 1.1″ closed, and the USB stick itself is small enough to sit next to other USB plugs on your system without intruding on their space. This is a welcome relief from all the bulky thumb drives currently on the market.
When you look at the Crypteks USB, you’re reminded of the kind of sleek styling that goes into today’s most popular electronics. Without a doubt, this product is designed to be as eye-catching as it is secure. Not only that, but it could serve as an excellent conversation piece during meetings as friends and coworkers marvel at this unique little device.
The Crypteks USB features 256-bit AES encryption with personalization options including a custom password and a failed attempts counter that attempts to format the drive if too many unsuccessful tries are made to access its content. Further to that, you can set the number of failed attempts to your liking, giving you as much or as little room as you need given the complexity of your password.
The built-in encryption software works with Windows, Mac OS X 10.5.x+, and Linux running v2.6 kernel or later. Unlike many encrypted drives, this one is truly cross-platform and can be easily transferred between PCs without having to install special software to do so.
All you need is a spare USB 2.0/1.1 port and two consecutive open drive letters. So, unless your system has more drives than there are letters in the alphabet, you should be good to go.
A read only mode is available as well, allowing you to read files on your Crypteks USB without risking any potentially harmful write actions to those files. This mode is only presently available on Windows and OS X.
You can discuss security on the Crypteks USB without mentioning that this drive has an incredible second layer of protection on it. While, yes, it isn’t Fort Knox, the physical locking mechanism is a cool added value to the already comprehensive protection made possible by hardware-level AES encryption. Still, the physical lock itself is a great way to keep unwanted hands off your USB drive should someone be looking over your shoulder a bit too closely when you log in.
Kickstarter is a great platform for inventors and startups to get their product ideas off the ground. By investing in the Crypteks USB, you’re actually able to pre-order the device before it even gets to market. Right now, you can pre-order the 8 GB Crypteks USB for a $130 donation. Your donation goes toward the further development, fabrication, and marketing of the device.
For a pledge of $160, you can pre-order the 16 GB model. Pledges higher than that receive greater rewards and shows of gratitude from the folks at Crypteks.
By contrast, you could pay $199 – $299 for an IronKey Secure Drive of the same capacity, and you don’t get the conversation piece of a hardware-based locking mechanism.
You can find cheaper USB drives out there, and some of them have incredibly interesting designs. Unfortunately, very few budget thumb drives offer hardware-level, 256-bit AES encryption. Even fewer still are made from materials that are built to withstand the test of time.
Why Back This Kickstarter Project?
Money raised through pledges made on Kickstarter goes towards making this product ready for the general market. A lot of projects fail on Kickstarter because they’re either too unrealistic, or don’t bring real value to the market. Crypteks USB is a product that I believe should be supported because it has the potential to inspire a new wave of creativity among security hardware markers. This industry has been riddled with bad software, lackluster hardware, and overall terrible user experiences for far too long. Projects like this have the potential to point the market in the right direction.
This same principle should apply for any investment you make. Every product you purchase is an endorsement of that product, on some level. We readily accept hardware that comes with terrible software, mediocre productivity programs, and buggy software that doesn’t actually work. Isn’t it time that we started investing in the products we want to see make it to market? Kickstarter, and other services like it, gives us that opportunity.
The Crypteks USB is an excellent concept that covers all the bases including security and design, and it offers something unique to the market. In a world where too many hardware manufacturers cut corners and sacrifice design and/or material quality for lower production costs, Crypteks has done neither.