How to Secure Your USB Flash Drives

Do you use USB flash drives to store or transfer data? Since their origins around the turn of the 21st century, USB flash drives have become increasingly popular. Consisting of a small and portable storage drive — typically with flash memory — it connects directly to a computer’s or device’s USB port. Like all data storage drives, though, USB flash drives can pose security vulnerabilities. You can secure them, however, by following some simple steps.

Don’t Lose Them

If you lose a USB flash drive, the data stored on it may become comprised. USB flash drives are designed to be portable. While this makes them a convenient way to store and transfer data, it also makes them easy to lose.

Maybe you accidentally leave a USB flash drive in a coffee shop while working on your laptop, or perhaps a USB flash drive falls out of your pocket while you ride a bus or train. Regardless, when you lose a USB flash drive, there’s a chance that someone may find and access the stored on it.

Encrypt the Data

You can secure your USB flash drives by encrypting the data stored on them. Encryption, of course, involves the use of a cryptographic algorithm to scramble data so that it’s unreadable. Once encrypted, otherwise readable data will be converted into a series of scrambled characters. The only way to read encrypted data is with a digital key.

There are two ways to encrypt data stored on a USB flash drive:

  1. Hardware-Based Encryption: Some USB flash drives are designed with physical components that encrypt their stored data. Known as hardware-based encryption, it offers an easy and effective way to protect against data theft and data loss.
  2. Software-Based Encryption: Even if a USB flash drive doesn’t offer hardware-based encryption, it may support software-based encryption. With software-based encryption, encryption software like DiskCryptor or BitLocker is used to encrypt the stored data.

Password Protect

You can also password protect your USB flash drives to prevent unauthorized access of your stored data. Most USB flash drives, unfortunately, don’t offer password protection as a native feature. However, there are still ways to add a login that requires the use of a password.

If you use software-based encryption, for instance, you’ll have the option to create a password. There are other non-encryption-based tools that allow you to password protect USB flash drives. SecureStick, for example, is a tool that allows you to create password-protected “Safe Zones.”