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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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The Age of Hacking

In today’s digital age, teaching children to code seems like a fantastic idea. Children are already spending huge amounts of time using technology, whether it’s a laptop, smartphone or tablet device and these IT skills can be essential in their future careers. However, whilst we must help a new generation of competent workers prepare for the digital world, how can we make sure that children will use their coding and programming skills for good and not evil?

Over the past years we’ve seen a number of technological innovations aimed at equipping children with basic programming and coding skills – from the Raspberry Pi to the recently launched Hackaball, a programmable ball aimed towards 6-10 year-old children. This demographic has been a key target for the UK government who have dominated the primary computing curriculum since September 2014.

However, with these skills being so easily transferrable to illegal activities such as hacking and cybercrime, how can we ensure that the lure of mischief, malice and money won’t sway children to ‘the dark side’? In January of this year, a seven-year-old girl hacked a public Wi-Fi network in just over ten minutes by learning how to set up a rogue access point to activate what is known as a ‘man in the middle’ attack. We know that this is already happening – hackers as young as 16 years old have been arrested for cybercrime, and the Home Office has warned that young video game hackers could be the next generation of cybercriminals.

So how can we tackle this? When it comes to children and young adults, the first place to start is at school and at home. Responsible adults, teachers and parents have a duty to ensure that their children, or pupils, are not engaging in criminal activity, and this is no different in the cyber world.

However, the problem we encounter here is the massive gulf between adults and children when it comes to understanding technology. An Ofcom survey released in August last year found that younger people have a far more advanced understanding of technology devices than adults – with 6 year olds having the same level of knowledge as the average 45 year old. In fact, teenagers aged between 14-19 years old are the most digitally confident in the UK.

If teachers and parents are to monitor and guide young people’s use of technology and make sure they’re not becoming involved in cybercrime, they must first be able to understand the technology themselves.

Secondly, we must consider the types of devices and technology that young people are using and put appropriate security measures in place to limit the possibility of malicious use. Technology like the Windows To Go USB Flash Drive would give young coders a replica desktop, just like the one they have at school, that they can take home and use on any device, without affecting or accessing the data and operating system sitting on that device. With a Windows To Go device it’s very easy to manage activity. The school can control the transfer of information and wipe, delete, monitor actions on the device, this way, the youngsters can hone their coding skills without being able to get in trouble by conducting activities outside the school’s remit.

What is clear is that we must not discourage children from learning these skills – they are absolutely essential for future employment and also play an important role in their everyday socialising with their peers. We must also accept that we cannot stop this evolution. Children are already learning these skills, with or without your knowledge and input, so the best we can do is to help shape that knowledge and put them on a good path.

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Thwarting the Insider Threat

 

Autumn is returning, reluctantly we’re turning our back on summer, and we are looking forward to the Holiday season. Undoubtedly, this comes with increased people taking vacations, working remotely, and the unlucky few taking their laptops on holidays. For many organizations, this is pretty risky business because the sensitive corporate information is now travelling along with their employees. Although many organizations rarely expect their loyal employees to steal company data, many are prepared for security attacks.

Following the Edward Snowden revelations in 2013, IT departments are now tasked with monitoring potential insider threats. Snowden’s work with US intelligence agencies put him in the position of a highly trusted employee, providing him with everything he needed to accomplish what he set out to do. There were no measures in place to prevent what was possibly the biggest information leak in the history of the US.

The risks come from those who intentionally misuse their access to data to cause a detrimental impact on the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive information.

Although there are a number of routes to secure intellectual property, if the authorities, from whom Snowden was stealing from, had a manageable and encrypted flash drive, such as an IronKey™ Windows To Go drive, they could have tracked the information from anywhere. Any activity on the drive could have been monitored from an on-premise or cloud-based management service. This would have ensured them the ability to restrict where the device could be used, or resort to remotely locking it down, so no one could access the data.

If data isn’t encrypted, its integrity can easily and quickly be compromised, and therefore it is essential to know where, and who, is accessing information. This can be difficult across a fragmented IT environment, however, companies need to be confident that if a device is considered to be compromised, they can remotely lock it down, wipe it, or initiate a self-destruct sequence to remove the data, to protect themselves and their stakeholders.

Protecting intellectual property should be a priority for all organizations. Disabling outdated user accounts when employees exit an organization, implementing policies with privileged account passwords, updating them regularly and limiting access to corporate systems, are all crucial to keeping data secure. That’s where the Windows to Go Drive comes in:  a secure, IT-managed, Microsoft certified USB drive that contains a fully functional corporate Windows desktop. Employees insert the Microsoft certified USB drives into their home computers, hot desks, or tablets that feature USB ports, and receive a secure desktop  as well as secure access to all applications they use in an office setting.

Unlike a virtualized or online remote access solution, this portable workspace offers full host computer isolation, which means documents cannot be saved to the host machine, but are saved to the USB drive.

This way, all data will remain secure without the threat of a potential data breach ensuring safety for all!

 

IronKey Workspace W700

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The Problem With BYOD (Computers)

Sure, everybody is excited about BYOD. You can use your personal phone to make business calls and read your corporate email. But the real cost savings for BYOD is “bring your own computer- BYOC”. There is no need to purchase, maintain, and upgrade computers; we just let the employees do that.

But wait; there are two BIG issues with Bring Your Own Computer.  The first is an IT issue. The IT team has to install applications, security tools, and management software onto each employee’s laptop. That means IT has to support a range of computer types (including Macs) and OS versions, and deal with incompatible applications running on the employee’s personal device.

The second issue is all about end-user satisfaction. I can hear the screaming now.  “What do you mean you are going to install monitoring software, file scanning, corporate applications, and Internet proxies on MY PERSONAL COMPUTER??   How much space is that going to take? Does this mean Corporate can see my personal files?” My users will rebel.

Good news for IT and the end user –  both of these issues can be easily addressed with Windows To Go.  Let them use their personal hardware – Macs, PC laptops, tablets – but have them run their corporate workspace from an IronKey ”PC-on-a-Stick”  Windows To Go USB flash drive. They run IT’s corporate Windows image with locked-down security controls and policies, applications, and data, but IT never touches their personal hard drive. Complete isolation between work and personal environments!

If you want happy employees, let them use their personal PC, but have them use an IronKey Windows To Go drive and don’t touch their personal system.  This is truly win-win. IT saves a boatload of money and users have a portable corporate workspace they can plug into their personal laptop, a home computer, or a computer they borrow at work.  When was the last time you rolled out a major cost savings initiative and got happy users at the same time! BYOC – bring it on!

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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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Enabling BYOD with a Secure Windows To Go IronKey Workspace

We have now announced Microsoft certification and general availability of our IronKey Workspace W500. Microsoft’s certification process is a rigorous one, so we are extremely pleased to put this stamp of approval on our latest Windows To Go solution. And we’re excited to bring our secure PC on a Stick platform to the Windows To Go solution set.

According to Intel’s IT Manager survey on the current state of BYOD, one of the two largest barriers to BYOD adoption is that the devices used by employees cannot support security, encryption or remote wipe.  The IronKey Workspace W500 solves IT managers’ security concerns with its hardware based encryption, ability to issue ‘silver bullet’ commands to remote wipe the device, and centralized management.  The IronKey Workspace W500 is truly an IT provisioned, IT managed and IT secured device that fits into your network.

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Source: Intel

Gartner predicts that half of companies will require BYOD in 2017, and as this trend spreads from mobile phones and smartphones to the PC, our Windows To Go workspace offerings position us strongly in this space. Strong market interest in our solutions backs up this trend – for example, we have initiated pilots large organizations that are interested in deploying thousands of devices. Use cases we are seeing include:

  • Executive travelers are seeking to bring a secure device to insecure countries, instead of a laptop.
  • Government agency looking to provide a way for employees to telework securely, using the workspace device on their home PCs.
  • A hospital is looking at providing secure workspaces to medical residents instead of providing PCs –a 10X cost savings.
  • Top universities are testing IronKey Workspaces for their students to use in computer labs, and then to allow them to bring their computing environment home.

Our new IronKey Workspace W500 represents a powerful, secure PC on a Stick offering for enterprise customers. This is a high-performance, ruggedized, high-security platform for organizations who see opportunity in using Windows To Go to support their BYOD initiatives.

You can learn more about the IronKey Workspace solutions at http://www.ironkey.com/en-US/secure-workspace/index.html.

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The 4 Benefits of USB 3.0—Are You Ready For This?

The USB flash drive is back. Often an afterthought in the buzz about BYOD, USB flash drives is once again becoming increasingly indispensable tools for the mobile worker.

What’s driving the resurgence of the USB stick?

  1. Windows To Go – Windows 8 Enterprise features Windows To Go, which lets you create a bootable, full featured Windows 8 desktop that runs securely from a certified USB drive. The solution is ideal for teleworkers and contractors who might want to use their own compatible computer setup but in a secure corporate environment. 
  2. Speed – Compared to the 12 Mbps speed of USB 1.1 and the 450 Mbps of USB 2.0, the “SuperSpeed” interface of USB 3.0 tries to live up to its name with a theoretical 5.0 Gbps (5,120Mbps) of bandwidth.
  3. Power – With a constantly expanding list of accessories and portable devices, bus-powered hardware has been pushing the limits of what USB 2.0 could handle. First, the 3.0 specification allows up to 80% more power consumption for devices running at “SuperSpeed.” Second, USB 3.0 includes an enhanced version of the USB-B connector called Powered-B, which allows USB accessories to draw power from peripheral devices, as well as hosts.
  4. Crossover Connection – In trying to establish a more robust ecosystem of USB devices, new features are implemented in the USB 3.0 to allow for cross-communication between hardware. USB 3.0 includes an established method of host-to-host communication through a crossover USB A to USB A cable. Additionally, USB 3.0 builds on the “USB On-The-Go” principles of allowing portable devices, such as smartphones, to act as either a USB device or a USB host, increasing their feature set and usability with existing USB devices.

It is this speed and power that make USB 3.0 drives the platform for USB drives certified for Windows To Go. Using USB 3.0 drives like our IronKey Workspace deliver a seamless experience booting and running Windows and productivity applications from a USB drive rather than the internal hard drive. This next iteration of the USB is really exciting as increased speeds, power and connection will prove beneficial to the mobile workforce.