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Kingston Acquires USB Assets of IronKey

Our special guest blogger is Nate Steffens, VP commodity Flash, Kingston. 

We, at Kingston®, are excited about our purchase of the assets of IronKey™ from Imation.  We have admired the IronKey brand from a distance as it signifies outstanding, industry leading products. IronKey end users are loyal and confident their data is safe and secure.

Kingston entered the encrypted USB market in 2004 with the DataTraveler Elite, when capacities started at a whopping 256MB. We have continued to produce quality encrypted USB drives and cement our place in this market. The acquisition of the IronKey assets will offer our customers a more comprehensive encrypted product portfolio.

Kingston works with many of the same channel partners as IronKey, and we are striving for a smooth integration of their products into the Kingston portfolio. Our goal is to continue strong customer relationships with open communication throughout the integration process by providing our partners with the excellent level of service and product quality that they’ve come to expect.

Additionally, we are strengthening our relationship with DataLocker®. Our Management Ready encrypted USB drives are currently supported by DataLocker’s SafeConsole. Now, with DataLocker acquiring the management services of IronKey, our companies will expand our collaboration.

To keep the communication lines open during our transition over the next few weeks, we have created an email address for our channel partners and end users. If you have questions, please send them to ironkey@kingston.com.

 

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Security vs. Flexibility – You Can’t Have One Without the Other

 

Remote working is rapidly becoming a customary practice within many organisations, and IT managers are being tasked with making the mobile working environment and corporate data more secure. The challenge however, is managing the security of data on the move, while maintaining the flexibility and productivity of employees working from a myriad of remote locations.

As new research from Imation and Vanson Bourne shows that most surveyed organisations now permit remote/mobile working and find it to be advantageous to their organisation, securing mobile workers is becoming even more challenging.

Around three in five organisations believe that remote working has increased employee motivation due to greater flexibility and increased productivity as employees can work from multiple locations. Traditionally, an organisation’s internal resources are accessed on-site. But the flexibility of remote working practices enables employees to work from numerous locations, with the most common methods of remote working being: home working, BYOD (Bring your own device) and VDI (Virtual desktop infrastructure). On top of this, around a third of respondents’ organisations have employees that are working from client sites.

As a result, organisations need to provide better portability while still providing comparable security in terms of confidentiality, integrity, and authentication of data. Organisations cannot allow flexibility without ensuring the necessary protection of corporate assets.

According to the survey, organisations are failing to keep track of what data employees take with them from the office – with employees still using potentially unsecure methods such as printing information out on paper and emailing files to themselves. This could have huge, detrimental ramifications for any organisation, particularly when taking into account that around four in 10? of respondents’ organisations do not currently have a remote working policy that covers IT security considerations . Not to mention only a small number of organisations enforce, or plan to enforce their remote working policy via IT processes.

Employees are also regularly breaking their organisation’s security rules in order to work remotely, and many organisations recognise that the data that leaves the office could be more adequately secured. Security must be top priority for organisations that permit remote working to prevent data breach and the financial and reputational implications that can result in one.

With this in mind, organisations need to find a balance that enables them to embrace mobile working and manage the security of data on the move. Anyone considering remote working as an option should prioritize protecting corporate data, the employees, and the organisations that own it and ensure there are policies in place for this protection. There should not be an option to choose between flexibility and security – you can’t have one without the other.

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Death, Taxes, And Being Hacked

 

There are some things in life that are inevitable – death and taxes at the top of the list.  To this list, I’m adding another modern day inevitability – being hacked!

You can be phished, clickjacked, spied on or attacked by a worm – the list of deadly attacks goes on. The types of malware and new attack vectors are growing at a frightening pace and trying to fight them off has become a daily concern.

Defending against cyber attacks and repairing the damage caused by hackers who break into security systems costs UK businesses a whopping £34 billion a year, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research.  Around £18 billion of this comes from lost revenues, whilst the IT department spends the remaining £16 billion on trying to shore up defenses.

Then there are the fines.  In 2014, for example, holiday firm Think W3 suffered a serious hack in which 1,163,996 credit and debit card records were stolen. The ICO described the incident as a “staggering lapse” and issued a fine of £150,000.

And earlier this year, Barclays had to compensate 2,000 customers when their personal details were discovered on a stolen USB device – highlighting that data.

There is no escaping it – data breaches are on the increase and fines are only going to get bigger under sweeping changes to EU legislation. But all it takes is some common sense and a robust security strategy to ensure you aren’t in the firing line.

 

Don’t leave the doors open

When it comes to securing devices, the obvious option is encrypting and password protecting data. IT needs to install tamper-proof encryption software at the endpoint so that all data on the devices is encrypted by default. Solid security policies, when paired with advanced device management features such as remote lock and remote wipe, go a long way in protecting sensitive business data from falling into the wrong hands.

 

Act now

The clear message is that businesses need to get their houses in order when it comes to security. When the EU data protection regulation comes into force next year, businesses will not only need to be confident in their file transfer policies, but they will also need to be able to show a very clear audit trail.

It is not if you are going to be hacked, but when. And unlike death and taxes, this is something you can actively work to avoid.

 

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CRUSH TEST: IronKey Windows To Go Drive vs ’85 Ford 150 Truck

 

That’s right.  We crush tested a 1.12 ounce IronKey™ Workspace W500 USB drive against a 1985 Ford F150 truck weighing 4,600 pounds. Odds are on the truck with its equivalent of 73,600 oz. to the IronKey Windows To Go device at 1.12 oz.  Right?  Not if it’s an IronKey.  Not only are IronKey drives the world’s most secure USB devices; they are also the most durable, ruggedized drives in the industry.  And we set out to prove it again at a press event at the Microsoft Technology Center (MTC) in Silicon Valley.

To demonstrate IronKey’s ruggedness to editors, Leon Brown drove his Ford 150 truck over theW500 device.  The result?  The IronKey device weighing a mere 1.12 oz., stood up to the crush test with only a few light surface scratches and booted a full Windows 10 desktop without any problems, just seconds after the test.  Now, imagine if your laptop was run over by a truck.  It would be broken, crumpled and all data would be destroyed.  It would also mean anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 would go down the drain.

The event showcased the enterprise feature of Windows To Go working with Microsoft Windows 10. IronKey, Microsoft enthusiasts and key editors joined to discuss mobile workspace trends and Windows To Go as a secure way to solve BYOD, remote endpoint security, contractor enablement and more.  After the editors booted up their own IronKey workspace devices, Leon and Chris Louie conducted a hands-on lab to demonstrate how to provision and manage IronKey workspace drives.

And believe it or not, this wasn’t the most extreme test we’ve conducted.  Previous IronKey Special Ops tests have included our devices being run over by a tank, being put through the washing machine and more.  To see IronKey stand up to the Ford F150, watch a one minute video of the event here: http://bit.ly/1PUws1k

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Introducing IronKey Workspace W200 – Affordable and Secure Windows To Go

 

W200 – The Basics

This morning we introduced the IronKey™ Workspace W200 – our most affordable Windows To Go device to date. The W200 is a USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Windows To Go device in a new lightweight ruggedized design. The device comes in black, includes the always present IronKey LED that signals when your device is running, and provides a loop so you can add to your keyring or a lanyard. Like all IronKey devices the W200 is waterproof, shockproof and meets MIL-STD-810G test specifications like its siblings. The W200 has excellent performance clocking Max Read speeds of 310MB/second and Max Write of 159MB/second.  I’ve compared this to my everyday W500 and don’t see any noticeable lag. Like all IronKey Windows To Go devices the W200 is Microsoft Certified and Windows 10 Ready and can be used with all IronKey deployment tools including our mass Provisioning Tool or scriptable Command Line Utility. The W200 allows for usage of Bitlocker To Go encryption so you make use of all your Microsoft skills in creating and protecting your mobile workforce.  The IronKey Workspace W200 devices are available now through our partners, starting at $96 for a 32GB device.

 

Top Use Cases

Where is the volume? The largest deployments of IronKey Windows To Go are coming from two types of customers. The first are those who have been saving money over deploying new hardware to employees and contractors. Telefónica Deutschland recently noted a savings of 2,500 Euros (USD approx. $2800) on hardware over a three-year period – and they’re not alone. We’re seen many organizations find they can buy 10-20 W200 devices for the price of a single laptop.

The second use case we’re seeing in volume is the “secure container” where IT is leveraging Windows To Go for consistency and security. Here how it works with VDI/VPN and Remote Workers – IT creates a Windows image that contains Windows OS, all the software to VPN in, the Citrix Receiver or VMWare Player and any security software they might need and hand those out to employees and contractors. Why? Well, the biggest answer is saving time and money for IT as it reduces support calls from users who have trouble and call in from home machines. In addition employees like it too – no longer are there the hassles of security scans and the perception of IT invading the home machine – just plug-in, boot and go.

 

What’s Next?

Keep an eye out on our website for some updates that I think you’ll really like.

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Windows To Go Devices: Upgrading Your Windows OS and Windows as a Service

 

 

Wipe and Replace to Update Your Devices

With the release of Windows 10, many IronKey Windows To Go customers are upgrading their Workspace devices to the latest Windows 10 Enterprise build.  The reasons why?  Many are doing it for their main Windows To Go devices— like me— and many others are doing it for the ability to do trial deployments of Windows To Go in their offices. Here at IronKey, we wipe and replace to update our devices. To do this, back up your Windows data and any information you require to rebuild your device, replace the Windows OS using either Microsoft’s Windows To Go Creator or IronKey’s Provisioning Tool or Scripts (if you are mass provisioning), and simply recreate. To the best of our knowledge no Microsoft upgrade tools will permit an in-place upgrade of Windows To Go devices from Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 so this is the best option.

 

Windows as a Service: When in-place upgrades may be important for Windows To Go

As Microsoft moves to a Windows as a Service model, they’ve introduced new update rings – Current Branch, Current Branch for Business (CBB), and the Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB). I won’t go in to what license model allows you access to which path, but instead focus on the philosophy. Microsoft’s intention of a single Windows as a Service model with on-going updates is to build an OS ecosystem in which most customers will, by following along, be on an identical or very recent version of Windows 10. So here’s the advantage.  If you have a Windows app or application, compatibility will be improved because a majority of PCs (WTG, desktops and laptops) will be on a recent Windows 10 version. This is a huge benefit to development and should alleviate a major headache for the deployment of apps and applications as you can expect a much more homogenous set of OS versions in the field.

 

The Challenges of Windows as a Service

As with anything new, there are challenges. The first is deciding on which branch is right for you and/or your organization. The Current Branch is the one consumers will use and is available for Home, Pro, Enterprise, and Education W10 editions. In this branch you get all the updates through Windows Update and receive all security and feature updates. The next ring out is Current Branch for Business (CBB) which allows for organizations on Pro, Enterprise or Education Editions to (1) delay feature update until testing is completed, and (2) use a wider variety of delivery options (adding Windows Update for Business and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS)). The delay allows for testing, and includes a bit of a stick that Microsoft will stop support if you delay too long and do not update Windows. Mary Jo Foley notes in an article that “Business customers on the Current Business Branch are going to have 12 months before they are required to deploy fixes and new features,” so Microsoft is providing a fair amount of lag time before nagging customers.  Long-term Servicing Branch (LTSB) (available to Enterprise Edition only) allows for more stability for a longer time period (think ATM), but may require some IT calculus around decisions to take if there are features that look attractive.  IT must then decide to move to a different update branch, like CBB, or wait for a newer LTSB.

 

Here is a table that shows the different servicing options, the supported OS editions, and delivery options:

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The In-Place Upgrade Dilemma

The catch is that some updates will require not just a patch, but an in-place upgrade! It is unclear what features or functions, and on what cadence, an in-place upgrade will be required. But until Microsoft deploys an updater to work with Windows To Go devices, you may need to hold updates or be prepared to wipe and replace when Microsoft pushes an update that requires an in-place upgrade (something larger than a security patch). For IronKey Windows To Go customers who are leveraging WTG as a secure endpoint—  for example by providing a VDI Citrix or VMWare client on a secure workspace to bypass potential host PC malware issues— this may not be a big issue. In these cases minimal OS functionality may be required, or a very locked down OS is sufficient and IT does not expect to adopt many new Windows 10 features. On the other side, for organizations leveraging Windows To Go for broader OS deployments (like IronKey!) where many of us are interested in the latest OS features for testing, security and convenience; any time an in-place upgrade is required, we will need to recreate our Windows image and wipe and replace our devices.

And there is the dilemma:  As we wait for Microsoft to update their tools we’ll be in a pinch whenever an in-place update of the OS is required for new functionality.

We’re looking at some other options on how to do this— PowerShell scripts is one thing we’re investigating— so we’ll keep you informed as we learn new information from Microsoft and any insights our team discovers.

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Microsoft Licensing for Windows To Go – You Can Deploy It Now!

 

 

In my last blog post Ready for Windows 10? IronKey Windows To Go is Windows 10 Ready, I mentioned that I would cover Windows To Go licensing.  In this blog post, I’ll review three key points that I often cover for our customers when asked about Microsoft Licensing.

The key takeaway is that if you have a Volume License, you probably are already able to deploy Windows To Go today.  Now lets’ review those three key points:

 

1. Windows To Go is a “benefit” of Software Assurance

When you purchase a Microsoft Volume License, which most companies do for the cost savings over time, you either receive Software Assurance by default with all Enterprise Agreements (EA) or may purchase it as an addition. What I’ve learned after many conversations is that most SMBs and Enterprises already have a Volume License and more often than not have Software Assurance associated with it.

If you fall in to this category, then you’re all set. You can use the Windows To Go Creator included with your Enterprise Windows 10 or Windows 8 OS, or take advantage of IronKey’s mass provisioning tool or scripting capabilities for provisioning many devices.

 

2. Not sure if you have a Volume License? It is easy to check.

You may be part of a company where you do not purchase your Microsoft licenses so here is what you can do. The first stop is to just check the operating system on your current PC by going to Control Panel, System and Security, and looking at the System details. If you have Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise, Windows 7 Enterprise, or Windows Vista Enterprise your company probably has an EA and therefore Software Assurance so you can go ahead and create IronKey Windows To Go devices today.

If you have other OS types like Pro, Professional, Ultimate or Business you may have a Volume License that allows it but you’ll want to ask. Your first stop is to ask your IT folks if they know, and if not, you can always track back to your reseller and ask for your companies Microsoft Licensing Agreement which will include what you need to know.

 

3. Did anything change in Windows 10?

In terms of Windows To Go as a benefit of Software Assurance (and EAs)—  no change. The change that is coming with Windows 10 and Enterprise agreements is that Microsoft is making a new selection of features available only to purchasers of EAs and so I expect that we’ll see more people purchasing it over time. Some of the new Enterprise features will be fairly desirable—such as Long Term Servicing Branch will allow some PCs to remain on a stable OS for long periods of time (think kiosk) as is covered in Windows 10 for Enterprise blog post by Jim Alkove. Additionally there are a lot of new benefits to Software Assurance (as covered well by ZDNet here) such as the inclusion of Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) and the of App-V functionality. As you’d expect, more features equal a higher price (making up for all the free Windows 10 upgrades Microsoft is providing to consumers) so we’ll see how it all shakes out.

 

IronKey’s Windows To Licensing Guide

I made a  WTG licensing reference guide that our team has found useful in addressing the many questions that arise out in the field.  Check out the licensing guide and feel free to email me with any questions you might have or alternatively you can reach out to your local Microsoft reseller for details specific to your situation.

 

In summary – you’re Windows To Go ready!

You’ve probably have the license you need so there is no reason to not try it out today. We’ve got a large number of customers providing Windows 10 to a portion of their workforce today using IronKey’s Microsoft Certified Windows To Go devices.

 

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Hillary’s Lawyer’s “Thumb Drive is Secure” – Really?

 

So says Politico and others about the thumb drive, that Hillary Clinton’s lawyer has, containing 30,000 files off of her private email server.

By “secure”, they probably mean encrypted. That and $4 buys a latte at Starbucks.

To be secure, the drive must not only be encrypted, but have signed firmware. Most encrypted drives don’t.

Why does it matter? Malware like that created by Equation Group and others, can enter via a USB port, take up residence in a laptop or PC and phone home anything of interest to whomever put it there – ISIS, Russia, China, Kim DotCom….pick your poison.

How to be sure it’s really secure? You don’t need to ask the FBI, like Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is doing.

Just ask the simple question of the manufacturer: Is your firmware signed? If it’s an IronKey™ drive, it is. And if it’s signed, it’s secure. For most other manufacturers’ drives, they will not have signed firmware. But ask, a few will.

If the answer is no, then the information is as public as tweets from Kim Kardashian.

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Ready for Windows 10? IronKey Windows To Go is Windows 10 Ready

 

Windows 10 is just around the corner— with Terry Myerson announcing on Blogging Windows that Windows 10 Enterprise will be available to Volume Licensing customers beginning August 1st. The release of Windows 10 appears to be one of the most exciting releases for enterprise customers with a long list of compelling new features for security, update, and management flexibility. There are lots of good posts out there detailing predictions on what will be delivered in Windows 10 Enterprise, but in tandem with end user experience updates like the return of the Start Menu, this is the version of Windows we’ll all standardize on over time.

 

Windows 10: Go Ahead and Give it a Try!

Windows To Go remains a bright spot and as a key benefit of Software Assurance (and VDA licenses), the momentum will continue. As we announced at Microsoft Ignite, IronKey Windows To Go devices are now fully ready for Windows 10!  So what exactly does that mean?  If you have an IronKey Windows To Go device, you can install Windows 10 now.  Whether you’re testing builds from the Windows Insider Program or waiting for the first releases on August 1, IronKey’s Windows To Go devices can be deployed straightaway. We’re using our IronKey W300 and W500 devices to explore and test Windows 10 functionality for ourselves so feel free to give it a try.

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If you’ve purchased our Mass Provisioning Tool and our scriptable Command Line Utility to produce many devices simultaneously, we are currently testing in this environment and will provide more information as we learn more. To date, the only restriction we’re seeing is that you’ll need to build Windows 8.1 devices from a Windows 8.1 PC, and Windows 10 devices from a Windows 10 PC.   From our testing efforts, and as we make use of the Windows DISM for some operations, we are seeing a need for version consistency with the current version of our tools. We’ll continue to investigate in order to make any updates as our testing proceeds.

In short, IronKey Windows To Go is ready for Windows 10.

 

Haven’t Experienced Windows To Go? 

For those who haven’t yet experienced Windows To Go and want to give it a try, we’re offering a Windows To Go Intro Kit on our eStore.   Each Windows To Go Intro Kit features a 32GB IronKey Workspace W300 device with a 90-day trial version of Windows 8.1 pre-loaded, a right-angle USB adapter, and an IronKey lanyard for $89.00.  To purchase, visit IronKey eStore.  The kits will soon be available with Windows 10.

 

Need to Learn More About Microsoft Licensing?

On an additional note, I’m often asked about licensing Windows for Windows To Go so I will be covering that in my next blog post. Here’s the simple summary— most Volume License holders have Software Assurance so they’re ready to deploy. If you’re not sure, I’ll be covering licensing in detail next month so please check back with us.

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LATEST DATA BREACH: EVERY U.S. FEDERAL EMPLOYEE AFFECTED

 

Our special guest blogger is Tav Venia, an IronKey sales engineer, who is based in the Washington DC area and serves our Federal and Enterprise clients. 

Unfortunately, we’ve all heard about the hack on the personnel records and social security numbers for more than 4 Million+ Federal Employees at a U.S. Government Agency.  Data lost, stolen, or hacked:  it just represents another failure to protect our federal data.  For this, and many other reasons, now more than ever it’s imperative that all types of data is securely protected— federal, classified, FOUO (For Official Use Only), defense, employee, personal, etc.   Now is the time to get out in front of any and all possible threats and attacks to assure ourselves that our data is safe and secure from what can turn into “Tomorrow’s Headline”.

Government employees are more mobile— working in the office, in the field and from home— which increases the potential for even more data exposure risks.  The ability to securely store and transport data while on the move is a necessity.  As the Federal Team Sales Engineer, I see how our U.S. Government and Agency customers are using the IronKey™ line of hardware encrypted hard drives to securely store and protect their sensitive information, among many, many other reasons.  But with the release of our newest hard drive, the IronKey H350, government agencies can enjoy the speed and performance advantages of USB 3.0 technology while realizing the benefits of the world’s most secure USB devices including FIPS 140-2 Level 3 certification, AES-XTS 256-bit hardware encryption and centralized management.

Our customers can now save, backup and move data wherever they may be much more rapidly taking advantage of the USB 3.0 speeds.  As technology advances, data files are exponentially growing in size, the ability to securely store and move data quickly and efficiently from the field back to the government or agency office is of even greater importance.  Forgotten password?  No worries. On managed enterprise hard drives, IronKey provides the only secure password reset mechanism that allows users to recover data without erasing the contents on the drive or using a backdoor to reset the password.  Additionally, when data is not being access or used, the IronKey H350 can protect and secure Data At Rest (DAR), another use case of importance to our U.S. Government and Agency customers.

Personally, with my job, I am constantly on the move traveling from place to place.  I use the IronKey H350 to back up all of my laptop data because we have all been there when Windows crashes and/or becomes corrupted giving us the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) rendering our data lost and unrecoverable.  This can be a result of a Windows error or a simple drop of your laptop which damages the hard drive.  I don’t ever want to be caught in a situation where I don’t have a backup of my data.  Thanks to my IronKey H350 USB 3.0 hard drive, it now takes less than an hour to back up all of my data, a process that used to take many hours using a USB 2.0 Hard Drive.