Encrypted USB flash drive you can unlock with your smartphone (or Apple Watch)

There are a lot of encrypted USB flash drives out there. You plug them in, and either there’s an on-screen popup that asks for your passcode, or some sort of physical keypad that is used to gain access.

But what about transferring the unlocking mechanism to another device — such as a smartphone, or your Apple Watch?

This is exactly what the iStorage datAshur BT hardware encrypted USB flash drive does.

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Visually, the iStorage datAshur BT looks like any other USB flash drive. A very high quality one — the exterior looks like it is made from polished obsidian. In reality, I think it is an epoxy. It’s tough, gives the drive a water- and dust-resistant rating of IP57 (protected against damage from dust ingress, and water resistant to 1 meter), and there’s a cap that protects the USB-A business end.

Inside, the datAshur BT is offered in capacities ranging from 16GB all the way to 128GB. This is great because it allows customers to buy the storage they need, and not have to overspend if their needs are modest.

But there’s more.

Data on the datAshur BT is fully encrypted using AES-XTS 256-bit hardware encryption, which is FIPS 140-2 Level 3 compliant design and technology. This means no GDPR, HIPAA, SOX, CCPA or similar regulatory headaches.

Brute force is defended against by a built-in data wipe if there are too many wrong attempts made.

Another twist is the decryption.

Everything is protected by a 7-15-character password or a biometric unlock such as Face ID/Facial recognition, Touch ID/Fingerprint or IRIS scanning from a smartphone or tablet. The comms between the device and drive is handled by a secure Bluetooth authentication communication using any smart phone/tablet (iOS/Android) or Apple Watch. The Bluetooth channel is secured by a FIPS validated encryption layer and is only used for connection purposes.

There is also support for 2FA using SMS, if that’s your thing.

The drive itself is completely host independent, so it will work with Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome and so on, VDIs such as Citrix and VMWare, and also with embedded systems such as medical devices, TVs, drones, printers, scanners, or pretty much anything with a USB port.

Enterprise users will be pleased to know that the drive can be provisioned and remotely managed via the iStorage datAshur BT Remote Management Web Console (which is optional, and subject to an annual subscription).

The drive is also pretty swift for an encrypted drive. You get USB 3.2 Gen 1 data transfer top speeds of 170 MB/s for reads (and backward compatibility with older standards), and during tested I was easily getting an average of 155 MB/s.

I’ve been very impressed by this drive. I’ll be honest and say that initially I was a bit skeptical about using an app to access a storage drive, but it’s actually hugely convenient, and the FIPS validation gives me confidence that I’m not sacrificing security for expediency.

Prices for the iStorage datAshur BT range from $103 to $181 depending on the capacity required. 

  • All data stored on the drive is encrypted in real-time using AES-XTS 256-bit hardware encryption 
  • FIPS 140-2 Level 3 compliant design and technology
  • All critical components are covered by a layer of super tough epoxy resin
  • Access to the drive is protected using Bluetooth authentication (FIPS compliant) via any smartphone/tablet (iOS/Android) or Apple Watch
  • Authenticate using a 7-15-character password or Biometric unlock (Face ID/Facial recognition, Touch ID/Fingerprint and IRIS scanning)
  • IP57 Certified – Dust & Water resistant

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