The evolution of USB sticks from detested security hazard to data respectability has continued with the announcement of a new product certified to stringent US Government levels of security.

Memory giant Kingston has announced the Data Traveler ‘Blackbox,’ which features 256-bit AES hardware-based encryption compliant with the tough FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standard) 140-2 Level 2 standard.

Because the drive comes with hardware-based encryption, all data on the Blackbox is always encrypted, with the conversion to and from plain text being done transparently once the user has logged into the device.

Passwords are mandatory to use the drive, with complexity enforced to stop people using the name of their pet dog.

For extra security, anyone finding a mislaid drive has to enter the correct password within ten attempts or the drive will require re-formatting and a new password. The FIPS Level 2 standard also requires that the drive perform a power-on self test (POST) every time it is plugged in to ensure that the security is working correctly.

The drive’s physical construction marks it out from the crowd too, featuring a titanium-coated stainless steel case, which can withstand water incursion up to a claimed depth of 4 feet. The stated warranty period is five years. Tampering with the drive itself is claimed to be obvious thanks to a sealing system.

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To take a look at the Blackbird SR-71-like Blackbox, Kingston has produced a slick little marketing video.

The available capacities of 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB, and throughput speeds of 24 MBytes/s read and up to 20 MBytes/s write, almost seem like an afterthought with this security hitlist to ponder.

“This certification, along with other enhanced security features makes the DT BlackBox an ideal way to store and transport confidential documents with the utmost confidence that the data is secure,” said Kingston’s Mark Akoubian.

The drive is the latest in a recent line of super-secure drives from the company, though the Blackbox takes this to new levels.