Cygilant Blog

USB Drives: Best Practices for Information Security

Posted by Security Steve on Mar 3, 2014


Securing external hardware poses a number of unique challenges. Not only is there the risk of network infiltration and malware which plagues networked computers and servers, there is also the risk of theft due to the portable nature of most external hard drive products. Securing external hard drives is an essential part of any comprehensive data security strategy. Any IT firm utilizing external hard drives with sensitive data would be wise to incorporate safety precautions into their business. Here are some best practices for external hardware management. 


Choice of External Hard Drive

Not all external hard drives are equally secure. For a comprehensive external hardware data security strategy it is advisable to use hard drives with adequate security functionality. There are a plethora of options on the market today with different security configurations. Here is a ranking of external hard drives which ranks them based on factors such as durability and security. For optimum data security a product like the Lenovo ThinkPad USB 3.0 Secure Hard Drive would be the best choice. External hard drives such as this have a more involved setup process than the average hard drive, but they come with 256-bit key AES encryption.



Encryption is one of the foundations of data security and it is crucial that it be included in the process of securing external hard drives. Depending on the brand of hard drive there may be encryption software already installed on it. It is important to determine what if any software is installed on a drive and to understand its operation to maximize the software's efficacy. If the external hard drive does not come with any encryption software or if the bundled software is inadequate for the needs of a particular firm or project, it could be beneficial to investigate third party software packages available. While there are many proprietary hard drive encryption applications available on the market as well as TrueCrypt, a free and open source encryption solution with a comprehensive selection of tools for use in data security. 


Network Security

Even with a properly encrypted hard drive with 256-bit encryption it is still prudent to take steps to mitigate the possibility of a network exploit. It is of particular importance to take extra precautions when dealing with a external hard drive used to store highly confidential security. Employing basic data security measures such as using the right firewall and regularly employing anti-virus software is absolutely essential. For situations that require the absolute highest data security, it may be wise to disconnect any network functionality on any computer accessing a secured external hard drive.


External hard drives can be an excellent solution for general data backup as well as in the use of securing confidential data. By purchasing the right external drive need for a given storage situation, properly encrypting it, and employing basic network data security procedures, external hardware can be used in the confidence that most major threats have been mitigated. 


Looking to secure your network? Check out these 5 open source security tools.



Tags: Data Security

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