The widespread use of USB flash drives has resulted in security risks like data leakage, theft, computer viruses, malware and spyware. While experts predict USB flash drive revenue and market share growth rate will reach 71%, there are some security concerns.
An average USB lacks proper security making data transportation and storage a risky affair. A secure USB drive provides safe storage and data transportation. It also allows you to access data quickly.
Here are 4 best practices that will enable you to store, protect and quickly retrieve data from a USB flash drive.
- Secure Erase Flash Drives
Secure erasing a flash drive ensures you completely wipe out data from your USB flash drive. Reasons for completely erasing data from a flash drive may include avoiding unauthorized access after selling or discarding your USB drive. Secure erasing also helps you remove viruses and malware.
The standard method of deleting information from a flash drive will not permanently remove data from a storage device. For example, right-clicking on a file or folder and pressing the delete option only makes a file or folder invisible and available for the overwriting process.
It might not be possible to see a deleted file or folder on your operating system, but if it’s not overwritten, you can recover it using data recovery software. That’s why it’s essential to ensure you completely erase all sensitive information from a USB flash drive so that unauthorized people will not access it.
Erase your flash drives on windows using the “diskpart” function or on Mac using the Erase Function. Another method for securely erasing a flash drive is using software.
Secure Erase with Command Prompt on Windows
Command prompt is a windows tool that lets you erase information entirely from a USB drive or SD card. It requires users to type specific command lines that clean the flash drive.
The final “clean all” command ensures your USB is clean and overwrites all partitions.
Reliable Secure Erase Software
Users who don’t enjoy using command prompt might find it difficult to accurately type the erase commands. Typing the wrong command lines can be stressful and can damage your USB drive. That’s why reliable and secure erase software will help you erase a USB flash drive with one click.
An erase software wipes all data from your drive and clears partitions. It shreds files like audio, videos, images, and folders.
Before completely deleting information, ensure you understand its sensitivity. For example, some software will provide a strategy to recover information after deletion. This strategy might not be the best option for highly sensitive information.
Other secure-erase software might allow you to use a strategy that takes hours or days but completely erases everything. Such a strategy is best for erasing highly sensitive information.
- Encrypted USB
Encrypting a USB drive is the best way to ensure your information is secure. Encryption prevents unauthorized users from accessing sensitive information. Secure USB drives come with a chip and software dedicated to encryption.
After plugging your USB drive into a computer, you’ll open the encryption software and set a password. The password is set the first time you plug in the flash drive. Other times you’ll be prompted to input the password you set the first time. Users should always remember their passwords.
After using an encrypted USB drive and unplugging it, the encryption software automatically encrypts data files and makes them unreadable. If you lose your USB disk, the encryption process ensures an unauthorized person cannot access sensitive files and folders.
Encrypted flash drives are more expensive than standard ones because of the security feature they provide. Some encryption software have monthly subscriptions, while others are free.
- Individual File Software Encryption
Encrypting individual files allows you to protect specific files in your USB drive. It’s the best option to store unsecured and secured information.
That means some files are accessible to others, but other files are accessible only to you. Individual file software encryption helps provide partial security.
Some of the software solutions are available online as free or paid. Popular software tools for individual encryption include AxCrypt, Folder Lock, and Vera. Mac users can choose Encrypto or Concealer.
- Whole Drive Software Encryption
Whole drive encryption software helps secure your entire USB flash drive. Although free and paid versions are available online modern operating systems come with whole-drive software encryption.
For example, windows have an in-built whole drive encryption tool like BitLocker. MacOS also has encryption features on its disk utility. The encryption software locks all the information in a USB drive.
The flash drive is only accessible on a computer with BitLocker after entering the password you set the first time.
USB Flash Drive Data Access and Software Encryption
The best USB drive will provide fast and secure data access and storage. It’s crucial to quickly retrieve data using NVMe (non-volatile memory express) from devices like SSD (Solid State Drives). The Technique provides fast throughput and enables your USB to communicate at high speed.
It’s also important to use the right software and ensure the data is not accessible to the wrong people.
Here are some of the tools for partial and whole drive encryption.
AxCrypt is the best software for users who are new to encryption. It has an easy-to-use interface and is available for Windows and Mac users.
The algorithm for AxCrypt is AES-256, and it comes in two versions, personal and business. The business version has a master key and excellent customer support. It also performs automatic encryption and caches passphrases.
- Gilisoft Encryption
Gilisoft has the best user interface and is friendly to new users. Users can encrypt their USB flash drives with the algorithm AES-256. They can also use the same software for data recovery. Gilisoft is only available for Windows users.
- Drive Crypt
Drive Crypt allows you to secure sensitive files. It uses 1344-bit security encryption, making it one of the most secure encryption tools.
It also allows authentication and fingerprint scanning. Drive Crypt is only available for Windows users and has a free trial.
- Vera Crypt
Vera Crypt has an open-source algorithm. Researchers are always auditing the algorithm to ensure quality. It uses AES-256, Serpent, and Twofish algorithms. Mac and Linux users can use Vera Crypt.
More people will continue using USB drives to move sensitive information and data. It’s essential to ensure the information is secure and quickly accessible to the right people. Software tools are available to improve USB drive security.
If you want to discard or sell your USB drive, ensure you erase all sensitive information, so it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.