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The importance of data security continues to rise as we begin to store more sensitive data on our computers and devices. The SecureUSB BT from SecureData brings hardware-level encryption to a USB flash drive form-factor with the convenience of being able to unlock it using your mobile device.

Video Review

Design

The design of the SecureUSB BT is not too dissimilar to a standard flash drive, it has a protective metal sleeve that protects the drive when not in use and slides over a rubber seal at the base of the drive, providing an IP57 dust and water-resistance rating. The sleeve provides a good seal, but it can be quite difficult to remove from the flash drive at times as it is such a strong seal around the base of the device. With the sleeve off, the flash drive itself is fairly plain – aside from some branding and device info printed on the underside.

SecureUSB BT and outer case
A metal sleeve protects the flash drive when it is not in use.

The drive itself is constructed from plastic and features a hole at the end which can be used to tie to a lanyard or the included wristband. The plastic has a soft-touch finish that feels pleasant to hold and is in a blue colour which corresponds with the SecureData brand colours. The top of the flash drive has an indicator LED which can tell you information about the encryption status of the USB and if there is data being transferred to or from the drive.

Features

If you’re looking at a flash drive in this category, the XTS-AES 256-bit hardware-level encryption is going to be the main appealing feature. This does come at a premium in comparison to a typical USB flash drive, with the SecureUSB BT starting at £70 for an 8GB drive, but you are really paying for the hardware encryption features.

As the drive uses hardware encryption, it does not require any software to be run or installed on your computer, or any computer, you choose to use the drive with – the decryption process is done from the SecureData Lock app on your device. This provides some added flexibility as the flash drive will work with any computer or device that supports USB storage as it detects it as a regular drive once it has been unlocked from the app. The app can be installed onto an Android or iOS device and connects to the flash drive over Bluetooth to authenticate.

SecureUSB BT and app
The SecureData Lock app is used to unlock the flash drive and customise settings.

The app is straightforward to use and allows you to unlock the flash drive using a 7–15-digit password. I’ve been testing out the app on iOS, but I imagine the functionality will be similar on Android. The app allows me to customise a collection of settings regarding the flash drive such as 2-factor authentication, password recovery and the choice to unlock the flash drive with FaceID or my Apple Watch.

Additionally, within the app, some further security options can be used to harden the flash drive further such as setting the drive to auto-lock after a specified inactivity time or even if you walk away from the drive whilst it is connected to a computer. I found the proximity auto-lock to work effectively, although it would be nice to have the option to fine-tune this setting as it can only be turned on or off.

An interesting feature I found within the app was the remote wipe setting, when enabled, this setting allows you to remotely set the flash drive to immediately wipe itself when it is connected to a mobile device – this sounds like quite a handy feature if you have personal documents or sensitive information stored on the USB.

I really like how the app allows you to easily customise the features you wish to use with the flash drive, and it is straightforward to get set up and running and the app is quick and snappy to use which is great.

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Performance

The SecureUSB BT offers good performance for a USB flash drive, the device supports USB 3.2 connectivity and is backwards compatible. Unfortunately, my computer only supports the USB 3.0 specification, so I have not been able to make full advantage of the advancements from USB 3.0 to 3.2. Regardless of this, I was still able to get impressive speeds for a flash drive.

SecureUSB BT connected to laptop computer
The flash drive offers good performance.

I performed benchmarks in both ATTO Disk Benchmark and CrystalDiskMark. In ATTO, I saw peak write speeds of 65MB/s and peak read speeds of 160MB/s. In CrystalDiskMark, the read speeds were similar at around 167MB/s but the write speeds in this test were considerably lower at 25MB/s.

To figure out which test was providing a more reliable statistic, I copied a 3.59GB MP4 file from an internal SSD to the flash drive, this file transfer wrote to the flash drive at an average of 24MB/s and took 2 minutes and 35 seconds to complete – showing that the CrystalDiskMark test provided a result that reflected real-world use more accurately.

Interestingly my read results exceeded SecureData’s advertised 130MB/s read speed but did fall short of their 43MB/s write speed, but part of this could be due to my computer only supporting USB 3.0 and not 3.2 (these new drives are making my computer show its age).

Accessories

SecureUSB BT and included accessories
The SecureUSB BT includes a few accessories in the box.

Inside the box, SecureData also includes a couple of accessories to go alongside the SecureUSB BT. There’s a wrist strap that you can attach to the USB so you could clip it to a carabiner. There’s also a couple of USB adapters included in the box so you can use the flash drive with other devices, there’s a micro-USB to USB Type-A and Type-C to Type-A adapter included so you could use these with a range of devices and beyond the limitations of the USB Type-A port that is on the flash drive itself.

Conclusion

The SecureData SecureUSB BT provides a well-executed flash drive with hardware encryption features. The ability to unlock the flash drive from your mobile device is convenient and additional features and customisation can make it a good solution for carrying sensitive data on the go. These features do come at a premium cost, but it is a good option if you are looking for a flash drive with this feature-set.

The SecureData SecureUSB BT is available to purchase from SecureData’s website.

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