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USB "Ciphering Dongle" Offers Instant Full Disk Encryption for USB Drives

Enigma Module Offers Full Disk Encryption for USB Storage Drives

Enova Technology, a Taiwan-based provider of encryption solutions, on Monday launched a USB encryption solution designed to provide consumers and enterprises with real-time full disk encryption for just about any USB mass storage class drive.

Dubbed the “Enigma module,” the encryption kit comes in the form of a USB “ciphering dongle,” and has one primary task - to protect data by rendering a lost or stolen USB drive useless.

Just last week, Oregon Health & Science University sent a notification to 702 patients that some of their private information had been stolen. As it turns out, the stolen data was stored on USB drive that an employee had accidentally taken home.

Enigma module for USB EncryptionThe drive was used to create backups of the data, and would have normally been secured onsite. However, it was among the items taken from the OHSU employee when their home was burglarized. According to statements from the school, there was no encryption used on the device, and the incident has caused them to speed up the process of evaluating encryption solutions.

For their part, Enova would likely be quick to point out the fact that such an incident wouldn’t be as painful if the data had been stored correctly. They’d be right too, because policy lapse aside, it seems that reports of lost USB devices being linked to data loss incidents are a commonplace these days. Hardly a month goes by without such an incident making headlines.

Enigma works by creating a bridge between the endpoint (such as a desktop) and the USB device itself. Once a USB is plugged into the Enigma module, the data on it can be encrypted and decrypted on the fly, as it is accessed with no latency or performance issues. The process needs no other hardware or software, as the module itself does all the heavy lifting. Using NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) certified hardware, the dongle uses AES ECB/CBC engines that encrypt data with up to 256-bit strength.

Should the USB be lost or stolen, the data on it is secured. So what happens if the Enigma module itself is lost or stolen?

“If an Enigma module is lost, a replacement Enigma programmed with the same Data Encryption Key (DEK) used previously will restore access to your encrypted information," a company spokesperson explained to SecurityWeek. "The DEK is a user chosen password entered upon initialization, so it can be easily used again with another Enigma device in the event your Enigma is lost or stolen.” 

Enigma also creates a barrier against issues related to bringing a USB device on the network, and creates a "Read Only" function on the USB drive that protects users from malware.

The Enigma module will work on most platforms including Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and Android. Moreover, off-the-shelf USB drives can be used with Enigma, in addition to card reader media, including SD and MMC. It can even be used to work on Blu-ray, DVD +/- RW, and CD-R media.

In terms of pricing, the MSRP for the AES ECB 256-bit model is $49.95, and $79.95 for the AES CBC 256-bit model.

More information on the Enigma Module is available here

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.