Transport for London (TfL) has become the latest organisation to deploy encrypted USB sticks to its staff in the form of the unusual PIN-entry datAshur design from UK vendor iStorage.

After conducting a trial, a batch of 250 datAshur drives will now be distributed across a range of TfL departments including London Underground and the River Service, iStorage said.

Image credit: TfL
Image credit: TfL

The key issue for TfL was that the design  reduced management overhead.

“During our trial of the datAshur USB drives, staff found they were easy-to-use, secure and provided assurance that should a device be lost or stolen, then the data contained on it would be protected using strong encryption,” said TfL solutions architect,  Graham Dawes.

“From a project and ongoing support perspective, one of the main benefits of the datAshur devices is not having a backend infrastructure to manage, making it simple to use, and not requiring any drivers or software to be installed.”

Most encrypted USB sticks require oftware to be loaded on the host computer which tends to limit support to Windows and Macs. By contrast, the PIN entry approach favoured by the datAshur allows it to support almost anything with a USB port, including embedded and Linux systems.

This simplicity and cross-platform capability offers obvious advantages although when Techworld reviewed a unit (the plastic Personal version) we noted that the small PIN keys might be fiddly to use for anyone with larger-that-average fingers. 

The model chosen by TfL is the aluminium-clad enterprise drive that conforms to FIPS 140-2.

The use of encryption on portable drives has been a standard ICO recommendation for some time in an attempt to combat the long list of incidents in which sensitive data was mislaid on unsecured USB drives.

“If the Data Protection Act is violated then companies face serious fines – not only that, the reputation of the entire company can also be compromised. By purchasing a number of datAshur devices for its staff, TfL ensures its integrity and proves its commitment to security,” said iStorage CEO, John Michael.