Review: Self-Encrypting External Hard Disk Drives

When evaluating secure, external, portable, hard-drives for yourself, the fundamental question is do you want a hardware- or a software-based device?

Eclypt Freedom

The Eclypt Freedom uses a software-based encryption system of authentication as opposed to the earlier products in this review.  Because it is software-based it has only a plain metal exterior.  At one end of the device are two available USB ports, one mini and one standard.  The mini USB is used for connection while the standard is for a two factor authentication module that wasn’t tested here.

The Eclypt Freedom hides everything away until correct authentication has been supplied.  This is done using an inbuilt application so the device can still be used without additional software, although it does come with extra software that contains a central management system. The Eclypt Freedom comes in 4 flavours, each offering a different level of security from everyday non protected data through to Top Secret data in government terms.  The unit we have on test is the second in the range and offers protection at level IL 2 which is for data that is classified as needing to be protected but not sensitive enough to be restricted.  This is at the same level as the other devices under review.

In terms of listed features the Eclypt Freedom is very simplistic in a similar fashion to the iStorage disk Genie.  Once you have entered your authentication details, you are given a disk area to use like any other disk storage space. 

The Eclypt Freedom fires up as soon as it’s plugged in.  You are greeted with a number of folders that allow you to choose the operating system in use, each one holds the appropriate login application.  We tested using the Windows platform.  A double click on the application brings up the login screen and once successfully processed, 320GB storage space becomes visible to the user.  Drag and drop file movement is smooth and the encryption process does not cause any delays.  With no external interface, usability is as smooth as your computer runs.  Using this is really as simple as entering your user name and password and away you go.

The Viasat Eclypt Freedom uses AES 256-bit encryption for password verification but also offers a USB dongle for a two factor authentication process for added security.  The dongle is an extra cost but dependent on the value of the data you are working with, it may be a viable addition.

The way that the software has been designed means that the authentication screen only has the user name field enabled on start up.  Other fields remain inaccessible until a valid username has been entered.  Only then will the password field become active, giving you 15 attempts to enter the correct information. After 15 incorrect password entries the drive suspends all accounts and purges the information stored. Once the drive is unplugged and reinserted you have to format before being able to use it again.

If a software encryption drive is what you are looking for then this is a good candidate.  It doesn’t have the capacity of the other drives on test and at 320GB would be considered small by today’s standards.  As with the other drives you are able to move it from machine to machine, encryption is still on board even though it is entirely software based. 

Tags information securityreviewData Locker DL3CMS ABS Plus with DataguardCMS ABS Plus FDEencrypted hard disk drivesiStorage disk GenieEclypt FreedomData Locker Enterprise

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