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Pretty much the top three things most of us (casual users, enthusiasts and gamers) take into account when out to get a brand new USB flash drive are capacity, price and speed (not necessarily in that order). However there are many people out there such as professionals and enterprise/industrial users who also require the best possible protection for their sensitive data something which normal flash drives can't offer. Because of that there are several manufacturers out there who produce some of the most innovative USB flash drives money can buy featuring not only "top secret" grade AES-256 data encryption algorithms but even secure data destruction if someone tries to hack them (unauthorized access). Kingston has been manufacturing such flash drives for a long time and right now they have a pretty long line for someone to choose from, however today we will be starting off with their entry level model, the DataTraveler Vault Privacy Edition 8GB.
Kingston Technology Company, Inc. is the world’s independent memory leader. Founded in 1987 with a single product offering, Kingston® now offers more than 2,000 memory products that support nearly every device that uses memory, from computers, servers and printers to MP3 players, digital cameras and mobile phones. In 2009, the company's sales reached $4.1 billion. With global headquarters in Fountain Valley, California, Kingston employs more than 4,000 people worldwide. Regarded as one of the “Best Companies to Work for in America” by Fortune magazine, Kingston’s tenets of respect, loyalty, flexibility and integrity create an exemplary corporate culture. Kingston believes that investing in its people is essential, and each employee is a vital part of Kingston’s success. Kingston serves an international network of distributors, resellers, retailers and OEM customers on six continents. The company also provides contract manufacturing and supply chain management services for semiconductor manufacturers and system OEMs.
Much like most "secure" USB flash drives out there the DataTraveler Vault Privacy Edition features a hardware encryption chip which is used to keep all your sensitive data locked with a password of your choice which in turn is secured against 3rd party tampering via AES-256 hardware encryption (256bit cipher block chaining mode). Of course depending on the how strong of a data encryption a person requires there are other solutions in the Kingston line with better encryption algorithms such as the military grade XEX tweaked codebook mode with cipher text stealing (XTS), however these are somewhat overkill for small businesses and professionals. The DataTraveler Vault Privacy edition is also compatible with both Windows and Mac systems and is certified under the IEC 60529 IPX8 standard which means it's aluminum casing is water resistant up to slightly over 1m (4ft). The downside however with secure USB flash drives is that because of the on-the-fly hardware encryption they don't feature the same transfer speeds as most mid/high-end units out there so let’s see just how well the DataTraveler Vault Privacy Edition does in that area.