Best business accessories of 2019: Tech tools to help you be more productive

Aegis Secure Key 3Z

A super-tough USB storage option for everything you hold dear.

Super secure
Hard-wearing design
Simple set-up and use
High price tag

Keeping workplace data safe is a major consideration for many workers, and the Aegis Secure Key 3Z features one of the toughest alternatives around. 

Primarily targeting those workers who are out and about a lot, and also want to keep their valuable information secure, the device is equipped with a physical keypad to protect what's inside.

Despite only being the size of a regular USB stick, the Aegis Secure Key 3Z is one tough cookie, able to stand up to almost any work environments. The rubber exterior, which is IP58 protective against dust and water, safeguards a rugged aluminium build inside and out, meaning that there is no easy way to break into this device.

The Aegis Secure Key 3Z also features top-of-the-range encryption that meets government standards alongside the onboard keyboard to enter a custom PIN and access the data within. Despite all this protection, setting up and using the device is fairly straightforward, not requiring any extra software or complex processes, with all the protection contained within.

In fact, the only downside appears to be the high price - at $79 for the 8GB model we reviewed, this is a far pricier alternative than other devices around today. But if security is your number one concern, then this is the storage device for you.

diskAshur Pro 500GB

An PIN-protected way to make sure your data stays secure.

High levels of security
Powerful encryption protection
Hard-wearing design,  but light and portable
Works across multiple operating systems
High price tag
Some availability issues

With data security becoming paramount for many of us these days, the diskAshur Pro looks to offer a comprehensive security offering to ensure your important data stays intact.

The key selling point of the diskAshur Pro is its obvious physical security - the device comes with a keypad that will only grant access to the data stored within upon entering a PIN number. Far from your usual ATM PIN number though, the device requires an identifier between seven and 15 digits, offering far tougher security, with the number able to be quickly personalised and changed, in order to keep your data safe.

Asides from the physical security (which extends to IP56 water and dust resistance and even a self-destruct feature), the diskAshur Pro also comes with some enviable encryption, sporting XTS-AES 256-bit real-time full disk hardware encryption and EDGE technology to offer even more levels of safety.

This version of the drive offers 500GB of storage, which should easily be enough to store all your vital documents, media and more, and connects to your PC or laptop via a standard USB 3.1 port.

The diskAshur Pro works across all major operating systems, including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux, and requires no extra additional software to be installed, meaning using the device is incredibly easy.

Getting hold of the product may be the main issue with the diskAshur Pro, with the company manufacturing and selling many other models of the device on its site. We found this particular model for sale on Amazon for £211.96, and on iStorage's own site for £209.

If you are able to get one, however, the diskAshur Pro is unparalleled in both its physical and internal protection, and the compact build and hard-wearing design make this a must-have for the security-conscious.

Apricorn Aegis Secure Key USB 3.0 480GB flash drive

An excellent alternative to other secure solutions on the market

Storage: 480GB | Interface: USB 3.0 | Weight: 46g

Massive capacity
Exceptional value for money (for a secure drive)
Initial installation can be cumbersome
Big so be careful with USB ports

The Apricorn Aegis Secure Key cuts a familiar figure; it does look a lot like the iStorage one but has 60x more capacity while costing about five times more. Comparing it to other secure USB drives, it does come across as being a bit of a bargain if you want to store massive amounts of data although it costs around three times the cheapest 512GB USB drive.

The USB drive itself incorporates a full 10-key alphanumeric keypad with two function keys plus three status lights. It then slots into a hardened epoxy-potted rugged aluminum enclosure which makes it dust and waterproof; the device is also certified IP-58 and at 46g and 93mm long is fairly chunky, putting a bigger strain on a device’s USB port than most USB drives.

As expected, it comes with built-in hardware encryption (256-bit AES) which means that it is totally independent from the host client and OS-agnostic. No keyloggers and no BadUSB vulnerability. It can be used where no keyboards are present and doesn’t require any drivers or software. It also means that it is powered by a battery which, unfortunately, adds another potential point of failure, especially as it runs rather hot in use. 

The Aegis Secure Key has also received a FIPS 140-2 level 3 accreditation from NIST, the US-based National Institute of Standards and Technology, which oversees US government IT and computer security. Setting the drive up is the hardest part of the process. There is no factory default PIN so you need to create your own PIN (at last 7 numbers up to 16) to use it. 

The drive can be configured with an admin PIN and a user PIN, both of which are independent and is a particularly useful option in a corporate setup when multiple units are deployed. 

The presence of an on-device keyboard makes brute-force attempts difficult and after 20 incorrect PIN entry attempts, the drive automatically deletes the encryption key, rendering the data unreadable. What’s more, it auto-locks when it is disconnected from the host PC or after a set period. Note that it may not work with a USB-hub because of higher power requirements.

There is also a read-only mode that prevents the user from tampering with data on the drive. Add in a rated data transfer rate of up to 190MBps/160MBps (read/write speeds) and a three-year warranty and you get a very solid product. As always, bear in mind that such a device – especially of this size- doesn’t remove the need to have a secure backup; drives – even those with high MTBF - do fail, get damaged or lost.

Kingston Ironkey D300

For those looking for affordable peace of mind

Storage: 8GB | Interface: USB 3.0 | Weight: 51g

Comes with AES-256 encryption
Expensive on a per GB basis
Can’t be used out of the box

Plug in the Kingston Ironkey D300 (IKD300/8GB) in your computer and the first thing you will notice is that the drive shows up as a CD Drive with a 14.4MB capacity.  Surely some mistake! Well, you actually need to initialise the drive before using it for the first on any computer.

Note that Kingston strongly advises not to use the drive via a USB hub. Launching the application will request that you create a password (between eight and 16 characters) and will go on to format the drive.

You will confusingly end up with two “drives”, one with the initialisation software and the other one being the actual empty drive. Insert it in another computer (Linux, Mac or Windows) and you will be prompted to enter the right password.

Otherwise, as for other similar solutions on the market, enter the password wrong 10 times in a row and your content will be erased. As for the drive itself, it is an 8GB model with a zinc casing – which also doubles as a heatsink as the D300 heats up a fair bit under use - and tamper-evident epoxy seal for physical security.

With its cap on, it is waterproof (up to 4ft) and dustproof and at 51g, feels solid. More importantly though, the more compelling protection happens inside the device itself. It is a FIPS 140-2 Level 3 certified device with 256-bit AES hardware encryption.

There is a hardware cryptographic module inside the device itself which means that the encryption and decryption is done on the drive rather than on the host PC, with digitally signed firmware which makes the D300 immune to the notorious BadUSB exploit.

The D300, which comes with a five-year warranty, also offers a read-only option which allows any user, once authenticated, to open and view content on the drive but not change, update or erase the content.

There’s also a managed version of the drive which, as its name implies, allows the drive to be deployed en masse across an organisation but requires Ironkey EMS by Datalocker which allows for the drives to be centrally managed. This allows for drive-specific policies and allows administrators to disable lost or stolen drives remotely and more.

The drives are available in capacities ranging from 4GB to 128GB. The rated transfer rates of the drive vary between 80MBps to 250MBps (read) and 12MBps to 85MBps (write) depending on the capacity. Rule of thumb is the lower the capacity, the slower it will be.

The 8GB model performed better than expected with CrystalDiskMark benchmark results hitting 237.6MBps and 58.69MBps on Read and Write respectively.