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USB Sticks With Encryption
Which one is best for cross-platform?

 4:58 pm on Mar 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

One thing webmasters have is tons of passwords. Also lots of documents that they want to keep private. So I've been trying to find a good usb stick with encryption that can be used on windows, mac os x and linux. The best thing I've seen (based on reviews anyway, 4.5 stars with 95 reviews) so far is:
"SanDisk SDCZ2-1024-A10 1 GB Cruzer Mini USB 2.0 Flash Drive"

Any other suggestions?



 5:43 pm on Mar 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm not aware of any that go cross-platform (Win/Mac <--> *nix) ... it doesn't seem that model does either as the specs state 'Compatible with Windows and Mac OS' -- now I'm willing to bet that is likely the secure application portion only though.

I have been using a Lexar for a couple years now and have been happy. The only way to access the secured areas is to reset them, at least, that is what the manufacturers state. And by resetting you basically are *reformatting* the device. I wonder if anybody has evidence of these ever being hacked ...?


 6:13 pm on Mar 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have to admit, I never attempted to use my JumpDrive cross-platform so I just jumped into a chat session with the folks at Lexar to find out about the secure app and it turns out it will indeed work cross-platform, according to them anyway.

Another neat gadget I realized today as well -- they have a drive now that runs off fingerprint technology. I kind of like that idea. physics, you may just have me spending money today too ;)


 7:41 pm on Mar 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

Anyone have any experience with the fingerprint technology? Does it work under most conditions. Other than using the fingerprint, does it have any back door or is formatting the only option.

With as many passwords that are required anymore I have been writing logon scripts. The problem with that is when I don't have to type them in, over time I tend to forget what they are. When the script fails (and they always do when you're a rush) I end up searching my entire system looking for it, hoping that I've recorded it someplace.


 8:03 pm on Mar 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've thought about getting the fingerprint drives but have had some not-so-great experiences with other fingerprint devices so I'm thinking it might not be worth the money.
The ScanDisk description on the amazon page does say mac compatible:

Fully compatible with PC running Windows 98SE, ME, 2000, XP and Macintosh running Mac OS 9.1+, OS X v.10.1.2+ Small size and easy to use No drivers required (except for Windows98)

And I think some of the reviews claim it works in linux

Plug-and-play in Linux, even though it doesn't say so on the box.

Also, as far as *nix compatibility goes, I think if something says mac os x compatible it's likely to be *nix compatible too since mac os x is based on unix [apple.com...]


 8:12 pm on Mar 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

I would tend to agree with you and that was the reason for the second post (msg#3). I should have clarified that part as the drive I use states the same thing when it comes to compatibility. It seems as though it is going to be just fine on a *nix platform -- although the technician stated Linux in particular. I don't know if this was an oversight on his part or a solid declaration. I would like to believe that if it will work on Linux it is going to work on other *nix OS.

So you would hesitate on the fingerprint option though, eh? How long ago was it that you had bad experiences with the technology? Perhaps it has improved since then?


 8:38 pm on Mar 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

It might be better now. I have a safe that has fingerprint but usually enter the code because the fingerprint option doesn't always work. The fingerprint drives I looked at have a password back up so there's not much fear of losing data if the fingerprint function stops working, but it also partially defeats the purpose. The best feature of fingerprint devices seems to be that you don't have to type your 'master' password into a keyboard (which defeats keyloggers and people looking over your shoulder). I'd like one but don't want to pay double the price if it's not going to work well...


 11:52 pm on Mar 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

don't want to pay double the price if it's not going to work well

Lexar 256MB JumpDrive TouchGuard USB Flash

Price Range: $27.99 - $55.00 from 4 Sellers at price grabber

Price seems to have gone down, but like you, I'm not sure of the fingerprint reliability. Don't want to start depending on it only to get out on the road and have it stop working.


 6:23 pm on Mar 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Argh. The CruzerLock software is only compatible with Windows (that's in the description at the end but I didn't notice it). So now I'm looking for a cross-platform open source solution that will run stand-alone from the stick. Maybe GPG but I'm not sure if it will run from the usb drive (so that it can be used on machines that don't have it installed).


 8:18 pm on Mar 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

The java based program 'Password Manager' worked from my usb stick on both Windows and Mac OS X (haven't testing on linux yet). I just clicked the .jar file and was able to use it on my iBook and my Dell.
You can't use it to encrypt other files but having a password manager as opposed to just a .txt file full of passwords is nice...
Don't know much else about that program though, such as how reliable the encryption is.


 8:03 pm on Mar 24, 2006 (gmt 0)

This would be cool: USB stick with small 0-9 buttons so one can enter the code right on the stick, which would then unlock and (ideally) work cross platform. If anyone sees one please let me know ;)


 3:29 am on Apr 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'd forget about the idea of a USB drive with it's own encryption. Most if not all are just software anyway.

Just get a good password manager that comes in flavors for various OSs and that itself encrypts it's data file.

I use Password Safe. It's a free, open-source project. Not the most convenient. But it does come in 2 flavors.

If you have a need to keep other data on your USB drive that is sensitive, then look for a portable drive-encryption program that comes in multiple OS versions. Most of these work by creating an encrypted file that is mounted as a drive letter.

You have more transparency using these applications than you do in simply relying on the manufacturer of the USB key, who generally tells you very little about what they are doing and how secure their solution really is. And if you don't like it or you read that the application has been comprimised - switch to a different application.

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