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IronKey Workspace W700 Drives with FIPS 140-2 L3 Set New Standard in Mobile Workspaces

 

Great news for government and other highly-regulated enterprises that require a FIPS 140-2 Level 3 Windows To Go drive— IronKey Workspace W700 drives are now available!   Our W700 PC on a Stick™ drives are the first Microsoft-certified Windows To Go devices to be FIPS 140-2 Level 3 validated. Now you can enjoy all the benefits of Windows To Go while meeting strict data security mandates.

Why is this Significant for Government Agencies?

If your agency is looking to provide mobile workspaces for your contractors, field workers, employees who want to BYOD or telework, this solution is a “no brainer”.  The Windows To Go approach is up to 90 percent more cost effective and more secure than issuing a new laptop or using VDI.  Visit our use case section to learn how agencies are using Windows To Go today (link to Use Case section).

What is Windows To Go?

Windows to Go is an enterprise feature of Windows 8.1 that lets people be productive from almost any location they choose to work by inserting the Windows To Go USB drive into any compatible PC of their choice. An organization’s corporate image, operating system, applications and data are all contained on the Microsoft-certified IronKey Workspace USB drive. The host PC boots completely off the Windows To Go drive using local resources such as monitors, CPUs and network connections.  The Windows To Go drive can be centrally managed and offers remote wipe features to protect against loss and theft. The Windows To Go solution is ideal for mobile workers, teleworkers and contractors, fueling secure “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) strategies that allow employees to use their home PCs for work.

IronKey Workspace W700

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Securely Working from Home – Freakin’ SWEET!

 

Hi, I’m Peter. I’m a Senior IT guy working for a big, growing enterprise.  I set the strategy and I’m responsible for the execution of IT infrastructure in my organization.   I need to worry about cost, security, and keeping my customers happy. We have pretty solid IT processes leveraging Microsoft tools, so I’m not about to set my IT team on some wild new solution that requires years to integrate. Recently, after a big meeting with the execs on cutting costs, I came across Windows to Go from Microsoft. Here is a solution that is secure, can save tons of money, make my customers happy, and fits into my IT workflow – Freakin’ SWEET!  My CISO stood up and applauded when I presented this to senior MGMT.  Needless to say I’ve become a big fan. In fact, they call me Windows To Go Guy around here. There are so many ways to apply this technology across my organization. I don’t get a commission on this stuff – I just love cool technology that makes sense. Here’s my blog entry:

Disclaimer: This blog is based on real Windows To Go ® use cases.  The character is fictitious to protect the names of our customers.  Any resemblance to actual customers is coincidental and not intentional.

Perhaps I’m a bit of a workaholic, but I don’t think I’m alone. After the kids go to bed, I read email, work on reports, look at presentations, and study excel spreadsheets. I’ve tried webmail  and VPN access to file shares from my home computer, but it is just not the same as having your own workspace at home with you. For the past 20 years, I’ve had to lug my laptop between work and home. But laptop screens are tiny when you are looking at a 50-column spreadsheet or comparing two documents side by side.  My home computer on the other hand, has a 27” monitor, surround sound, and fast direct Ethernet connect. In addition, we just bought a new Mac – sweet! I’ve wanted to use my home set-up for work and I’ve waited patiently, for 20 years to solve this problem.

Enter Microsoft Windows to Go. Six months ago, I loaded my entire workspace onto a tiny IronKey Workspace W500 USB 3.0 flash drive with the works: OS, apps, AV scanners, and data.. With 128Gbyte, there is plenty of space. When I’m at work, I plug this device into my work computer and run my workspace from the drive. Because it is flash, it runs much faster than my spinning hard drive in the host computer. When it is time to leave the office, I simply unplug the USB drive, stick it in my pocket, and head for home for dinner with the kids.

Later in the evening, I retire to my man-cave, slide the IronKey Workspace W500 flash drive into my mega machine, and my workspace magically appears before me. I settle back into my deep cushion chair, turn down the lights, fire up some hard rock, and slip back into my working world in the comfort of my home. Now that’s productive work at home!

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Windows XP Users – Have No Fear – Windows To Go is Here

 

It doesn’t have to be doomsday for the Enterprise hold outs looking to migrate off Windows XP.   With security and cost considerations heavily weighing on the decision to upgrade, the time to make the move is now.  And the good news is that there is a viable way to more easily transition off Windows XP to the latest Windows OS: the path is Windows To Go.  Microsoft Windows To Go is Windows 8.1 on a USB flash drive that you can boot on any compatible PC.  Simply put, it’s a PC on a Stick.  Now you may be asking yourself questions such as “How do I get Windows To Go,”  “How much does it cost,” and “How secure is it?”

Windows To Go, one of the most exciting enterprise features of Windows 8.1, enables workers to be productive from any location using a compatible PC of their choice. This solution is ideal for mobile workers, teleworkers, contractors and organizations that want to extend the life of their old computing machines.   Now, just imagine how easily you can manage the XP end of life issue. Instead of re-imaging all of your machines, just hand out Windows 8.1 desktops on USB sticks for use on your employees’ existing machines.  Thanks to Windows To Go, your employees can now use the latest Microsoft 8.1 OS while your organization realizes significant cost savings.

How do I get Windows To Go?  First let’s address the licensing aspect.  Organizations can get Windows To Go licenses for free if they have a Microsoft Software Assurance Agreement.  This means that with the Windows To Go rights under Software Assurance, an employee will be able to use Windows To Go on any company PC licensed with Software Assurance as well as from their home PC.    If there is not an agreement in place, contact your local Microsoft representative.  Also, organizations don’t necessarily need to outfit their entire organization with the license; only those employees who need it.

Microsoft only supports Microsoft-certified Windows To Go USB drives. Certified drives are optimized to meet the necessary requirements for booting and running Windows 8.1 from a USB drive.  Enter IronKey USB drives, which have earned a reputation for being the world’s most secure storage flash drives.

With IronKey Workspace drives, workers can be equipped with a fully manageable corporate Windows 8.1 OS image complete with all their applications and security policies— all provisioned on a Microsoft-certified USB 3.0 drive.   You don’t even need to worry about malware or other security risks as the Windows To Go device boots directly off the workspace device— and not the potentially unsecured host machine.  Once the drive is installed into a compatible computer, the user can access the host PC’s hardware and resources such as monitors, CPUs and network connections.  With our advanced options including centralized device management and provisioning, IronKey Workspace can transform any compatible computer into an IT-provisioned, IT-managed and IT-secured workstation for a fraction of the price of issuing a laptop.

How much does it cost?  In the last year, several IronKey Workspace devices with various features in different capacities have become available.  The products start at US $129 with the hardware encrypted drives starting at US $175.

How secure is it?  The IronKey Workspace product line offers different levels of security– ranging from Bitlocker encryption to AES 256-bit hardware encryption.  The newest product, the IronKey Workspace 700, is currently undergoing FIPS Level-140-2 Level 3 certification, which will make this the most secure Windows To Go drive on the market.

So if you’re looking to move off of Windows XP, consider Windows To Go and IronKey Workspace a secure and cost-efficient way to make this a smooth transition.

 

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Encryption and Management are the Keys to Securing the Mobile Workforce: Secure Mobility Face-off, Part 2

 

I’m perplexed. Why don’t more companies encrypt their employees’ sensitive data? There is no technology barrier and the cost is insignificant compared to the cost of a data breach.

In a world where a data breach can cause tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines that are only magnified by negative publicity, why wouldn’t every organization simply enforce encryption on data at rest – in servers, on laptops, and on USB drives – as a basic standard for doing business?

The need for encryption everywhere is further magnified by BYOD. IT leaders are waking up to the opportunity to extend BYOD strategies to PCs using technology like Windows To Go to reduce costs and improve productivity.

With Windows To Go, users can now put their entire Windows 8.1 operating system with their applications on a certified Microsoft USB drive, e.g., your whole PC on a Stick. The drive should be encrypted and ideally hardware encrypted to protect your private files from both brute force and physical attacks.

Strong Mobile Device Security – Encryption + Management

But encryption only gets you so far. What if a formerly trusted employee walks off with their drive, or what if their password is compromised? As an IT customer at a university recently told us:

“An unmanaged USB is like a time bomb.”

Encryption and management go hand in hand. Management improves the user experience by automating authentication for lost passwords. Systems like IronKey Enterprise Management allow devices to be tracked whenever they are plugged into an Internet-connected PC, and even enable remote kill commands, so that a lost device can be completely disabled from afar.

This capability means that in a BYOD scenario, a hardware encrypted, IT managed Windows To Go PC on a Stick actually offers greater security than the typical PC deployment!

If you want to learn more, see our latest whitepaper for an in-depth look at how organizations can use Windows To Go to empower and secure their mobile workforce.

 

 

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Secure Mobility Face-off: Windows To Go vs. Laptop and VDI

BYOD is a game changer for the mobile workforce, and IT leaders are waking up to the opportunity.

One case in point: State Tech reported that Fairfax County, VA is issuing Windows To Go drives to employees who work remotely, “improving productivity and reducing the number of employee-owned PCs that IT must support.”

“There’s nothing to install or configure. Employees simply plug the drives into their Windows 7– or Windows 8–compatible PCs or other devices, connect to the county network via a virtual private network, and work anytime, anywhere.”

Microsoft’s Windows To Go – an enterprise feature of Windows 8.1 – is a simple, cost effective way to liberate the corporate desktop from any single device by placing a full version of Windows 8.1, applications, security tools and policies onto a secure USB 3.0 stick. Employees and/or contractors now can work securely on most any laptop or tablet with a USB port.

Imation was an early proponent of the mobile USB workspace, so it’s gratifying to for us to see the growing excitement and adoption of Windows To Go among both enterprise and government organizations. As we meet forward-thinking IT leaders at seminars, trade shows, events around the world, it’s increasingly clear that Windows To Go represents an exciting and pragmatic new way to work for teleworkers, contractors and road warriors – and even students and teachers.

IT needs to keep evaluating new ways to increase security, manageability and flexibility for a mobile workforce while managing costs. In this context, we’re hearing from customers that Windows To Go delivers advantages over laptops in five key areas, as illustrated in our infographic, below:

  • Cost – The Windows To Go drive can be the D in the BYOD strategy, costing 1/5 to 1/10 what it would cost to deploy a laptop – a benefit for BYOD strategy and easing replacement costs for lost or stolen drives.
  • Security – The Ponemon Institute reports that only 31% of lost or stolen laptops were enabled for encryption. Standardizing on a Windows To Go certified, hardware encrypted USB 3.0 drive dramatically improves security from data breaches.
  • Manageability – Windows To Go lets you centrally manage the OS just as you do with laptops. In addition, innovations such as the IronKey Enterprise Service add the ability to track Windows To Go drives and do remote wipe or remote detonation if they are lost or stolen.
  • Deployment – Windows To Go drives are easy to deploy, lightweight to carry, and less costly to ship. And with provisioning tools, even hardware encrypted drives can be deployed centrally by the dozen.
  • Resilience – IDC report that 86% of organizations have had laptops lost or stolen, and more than half of those reported a security breach. A ruggedized, hardware encrypted drive like the IronKey Workspace W500 resists both physical damage and physical tampering, and is useless to a thief if lost or stolen.

Of course, you can’t use a Windows To Go drive without a laptop. But when the work environment is on the move and BYOD is changing the rules of the game, Windows To Go delivers for IT and employees across multiple fronts.

We plan go into each of these advantages in more detail on the IronKey blog over the next few weeks, so watch this space. Comment below to share your thoughts in the meantime.

And if you want to learn more, download our latest whitepaper, an in-depth look at how organizations can use Windows To Go to empower and secure the mobile workforce.

Infographic Image

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Sochi Games and Windows To Go – BYOB — Bring Your Own Burner

With reporters just starting to show up at the Sochi Games, their horror stories are emerging on everything from yellow drinking water, poisoned dogs and roofless hotel rooms to a hacker heaven. Digital connectivity and security are going to be hot topics and major issues during the Games. The IronKey Workspace for Windows to Go, a PC on a Stick, is a great solution for anyone traveling to Russia. Here’s why:

Russia has LAWFUL interception of ALL communications. There is ONE network, completely government controlled. What this means is, if you want to be online — unless you are working on a highly classified government network from your country of origin — you WILL be monitored and almost certainly hacked.

Even if you have a VPN, the Russian network will own your PC, your credentials, your certificates, etc. So you’re toast.

But you have to be connected and get work done. What do you do?

Take three things on your trip:

  • IronKey Workspace W500 for Windows To Go, with your needed applications and public files. You can plug the Windows To Go drive into almost any computer, work solely from the USB stick and not leave a trace behind.
  • Laptop, with the hard drive either disabled or removed (just to be safe)
  • Burner cell phone – buy with cash.

The good news is you can be connected this way without digital harm. The bad news is that, while you’re in Russia, you’ll have to assume all of your communications are public and not secure.  But you can stay completely connected, be productive, and still be safe when you return home.

While in Russia, you can use Windows To Go in your laptop, do all your work with your regular applications and stay connected to home base. The Windows 8.1 operating system you load on Windows To Go must contain applications and files that are not sensitive, because once you log on to the network, you need to assume anyone can see them and know it’s you. Same thing with when you use your cell. Even burner cells can be traced and triangulated. Just ask the DEA.

Once you get home, have IT re-provision your Windows To Go device. Or do it yourself. Load up all your applications and files, including all the sensitive ones. Windows To Go can be used again, completely securely in other countries. You can use it with your regular laptop or the drive-less one you got for the trip. Destroy the cell just like in cop shows.

Bon voyage!

 

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Microsoft Interview: Windows To Go, Year One

When Microsoft launched Windows 8 in late October 2012, Windows To Go was immediately identified as a “hot” feature, designed for IT and perfect for BYOD.  The concept is both simple and powerful: your own fully manageable, corporate image installed on a bootable, certified USB drive.

As a key provider of certified drives for Windows To Go with our own IronKey Workspace solutions, we thought this would be the perfect time to ask our friends at Microsoft to reflect on the first year of Windows To Go.  The result: the following interview with Craig Ashley, Senior Product Manager at Microsoft for Windows  To Go.

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Microsoft’s Craig Ashley

How has the reaction been to Windows To Go since its introduction last year? Have there been any surprises?

I can honestly say it has been very positive. We developed Windows To Go with this idea that for customers that fall into a range of scenarios, from bring your own device to traveling light on the go, we could fit a full version of Windows on a USB drive and enable customers to have their own full version of a PC on a stick that fits in their pocket. This meant large enterprises with contingent staff or companies that had shared PCs or highly mobile staff could have a seamless PC experience regardless of the device they were on.

We have actually been surprised by how many customers are coming out with new and innovative scenarios. One of those was during the 2012 London Olympics.  Like most businesses last summer, the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust faced significant potential challenges to its ability to provide high quality care and services due to the Olympics pressure on transport networks in the city, which could prohibit staff from making it to work.  They originally thought the only solution was to provide staff new laptops.  However, Windows To Go provided a far more cost-effective and seamless solution that not only allowed their staff to successfully work remotely, but was simple to roll out.

Which vertical markets have really expressed an interest in Windows To Go?

We see interest across quite a few vertical markets. For example in healthcare and the public sector, Imperial College Health Care NHS Trust (which I previously mentioned) and the IT staff in Fairfax County, Va. see a good fit for teleworkers or remote workers who can boot Windows To Go on their own devices, as it allows them to use their device of choice and saving the companies the additional costs associated with managing a BYOD device. Another example is in manufacturing, where Boeing is currently piloting Windows To Go drives to sourced employees or contactors instead of a PC. One last example I’d like to share is in the airline industry, where Emirates, an international airline, distributed Windows To Go to use on their Windows 7 tablets for testing a new app at home before deploying the final version of the app on a Windows 8 tablet.

Other than government and regulated industries, are there any surprise industries that are testing Windows To Go?

We have seen interest across a wide range of industries. While the interest in Windows To Go is broad, the reasons for testing, piloting and deploying are similar: Windows To Go is just Windows 8.1, but on-the-go. By that I mean enterprises can manage it, deploy it, load applications on it, track it, and secure it just like they would their other Windows devices. For example, if customers use Windows To Go for contractors or remote workers, they can deploy using their existing processes.

Are you finding that most Windows To Go testers were already on the path to Windows 8 or are you finding that Windows To Go is a catalyst for Windows 8 adopters?

With Windows 8, we helped our business customers enable new scenarios for achieving everything from business efficiency to new forms of customer engagement. Some were already interested in great manageable Windows tablets. Some customers were excited by the security capabilities that Windows 8 offers. And some businesses are really seeing the value of Windows 8 through Windows To Go enabled scenarios.

With the launch of Windows 8.1, are more businesses familiar with the benefits and features of Windows To Go?

Absolutely. With any new feature or product there is always a learning curve associated with it. Windows To Go was first released last year with Windows 8, and since that time we have been continuously talking to customers, listening to feedback, and creating documentation necessary to educate users across a wide range of Windows To Go topics. One example and one that I am sure the IronKey team is very knowledgeable on is the fact that Microsoft only supports drives certified for Windows To Go. We have written blogposts and online documentation to be sure that customers understand this and many other Windows To Go requirements.

How long are prospects testing Windows To Go before they commit and what’s the size of the commitment (are they rolling it out slowly, just certain employees or across the board)?

Customer test plans and timelines vary by use case, industry, and the size of the Windows To Go deployment under consideration. Because Windows To Go is just Windows 8.1, customers are able to test and evaluate Windows To Go alongside their broader Windows 8.1 deployments.

Is Microsoft encouraging employees to adopt Windows To Go? What has your experience been like?

You bet. At Microsoft we always “dogfood” our own products. From the initial stages of launching Windows 8, Microsoft employees have had access to create Windows To Go drives. Our internal IT teams have created documentation that outlines the steps and processes for us to create and employees can use Windows To Go for a variety of reasons. I have two drives that I use on an ongoing basis, one for demoing Windows To Go and one for my day job. Many nights when I pack up to go home I simply grab my Windows To Go drive, my keys and head for the door. If I need to do work at home, I use the drive on my home office desktop, so there is no longer a need to carry my laptop and bag with me every time I leave now.

 

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IronKey Workspace for Windows To Go Review

Now that it has been certified by Microsoft, I was very excited to get my hot little hands on the IronKey Workspace W500 — the new platform from Imation for Windows To Go — and try it out for myself.

Imation's IronKey Workspace

Windows To Go is an enterprise feature of Windows 8. The implementation on the IronKey drive essentially lets you create an IT provisioned and managed PC on a Stick(tm) for work. You can use it securely on the work PC, then lock it down, unplug it, and then use it securely at home. The cool part is that when you’re using Windows To Go on an IronKey Workspace drive, everything from a data stand point is happening on the IronKey Workspace — the hard drive in the host computer is locked away from your workspace-on-a-stick.

As you can see, the IronKey Workspace looks great… a slick, simple, iconic design. The hard metal case is designed to resist damage and water, and to prevent unwanted tampering. Inside, AES 256 hardware encryption makes the data unreadable without a password, and the IronKey Cryptochip makes the encryption keys unreachable by even sophisticated bad guys.

But enough about the specs.  How does this thing work? Let’s get started.

The IronKey Workspace W500 is based on the iconic IronKey design.

In your typical enterprise, IT would use Windows To Go to either provision the drive for users, or to allow individuals to make their own Windows To Go devices on certified drives. The result is a corporate OS image on each IronKey Workspace. For this review, the IronKey Workspace had already been provisioned with a trial copy of Windows 8.0.

To get started, I plugged the drive into the USB port and pressed the power button. We immediately see something new — a Windows 8 symbol on my laptop PC — which normally runs Windows 7. If my PC hadn’t already been configured to boot from USB, I would have needed to make a quick adjustment to the Boot Options by hitting F12 during the initial boot up process.

Booting up Windows To Go

The drive opened up a preboot environment and asked for an admin password.

Entering the IronKey Workspace's preboot environment.

The IronKey unlocker explained that the drive needs to reboot. This is a security feature for the hardware encrypted drive. It ensures that no one can get near Windows or the data on the drive until they have proved who they are to the Cryptochip.  The preboot process also ensures that the IronKey Workspace connects to and accounts for the hardware configuration on the host PC — network connection, camera, sound, and more.

The IronKey Workspace reboots for extra security in Windows To Go.

And, after about 2 minutes, it was up and running on Windows 8. I spent a minute or so in the Windows 8 control panel to align the PC screen and the monitor, and I was ready to go! By the way, the next time I booted up the IronKey Workspace, because the device had already profiled the hardware on this machine, the boot process took about half the time.

Windows To Go runs the OS from the IronKey USB stick, but it let's you take advantage of the PC's hardware.

Another first time process — Windows 8 noted necessary updates to the anti-spyware and anti-virus programs. These were handled seamlessly. It also asked for a product key; as a trial copy, we didn’t need to do this.

A quick Windows 8 software update.

Now let’s put this PC on a Stick through its paces. The camera worked….

Windows To Go working seamlessly.

…as did the speakers, and the network connection. Tip: If you’re in an office don’t forget to turn down the volume before clicking on the latest from Macklemore & Lewis!

That's "Can't Hold Us" by Macklemore & Lewis on Windows To Go.

One point to note: The Windows Store is not available on Windows To Go workspaces in Windows 8.0. The Store will be available on Windows To Go workspaces made with Windows 8.1 when it ships in a month or so.

Windows Store comes to Windows To Go in Windows 8.1.

Web conferencing was seamless.

Discussing our next trade show via web conference.

We don’t have Office on the Windows 8 trial, so I downloaded and installed Evernote for Windows onto the IronKey Workspace to write this review. Installation was as quick and easy as it would have been on the hard drive. In fact everything I did was fast.  Even though I was running off of the external IronKey Workspace drive, the PC performed every bit as well (and maybe even a little better) as it would if it had been running off the internal hard drive.

Working on Evernote for Windows on the IronKey Workspace for Windows To Go.

In Evernote, I was able to type at top speed with zero latency. This ability to work productively offline is a key advantage of Windows To Go over online-only solutions like VDI.

Conclusion:

Overall, as I wrote this review, checked email, participated in a web conference, listened to music and took pictures, it was easy to forget that I was running the OS and applications on a USB drive instead of the hard drive.

And for Windows To Go and the IronKey Workspace, that’s exactly what you want.