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April 24, 2009

Fujitsu develops wipe-clean secure USB

Erases data held in storage after set time

By CBR Staff Writer

Secure USB technology coming out of Fujitsu’s laboratories cuts the risk of sensitive data falling into the wrong hands by automatically erasing the data that has been stored on a memory stick after a set time.

The company has released a prototype of newly-developed secure USB memory device, saying that incidents involving loss of USB sticks and memory pens have affected a multitude of companies regardless of industry, and there is an urgent need for a practical way to resolve this problem.

Fujitsu argues that in the event that a USB memory device is lost or stolen, the data should not only be encrypted, but should automatically be deleted. 

Its new USB memory device does exactly that. Fitted with a processor and battery, after a fixed period of time or if the USB memory device is plugged into an unauthorised PC, the data is automatically erased or the USB memory device can be rendered unusable. 

Development of USB or universal serial bus as a convenient way to connect peripheral devices to computers has generated untold security risks. Complete lockdown can actually be counter-productive, as it blocks the USB port not only to storage devices but to the legitimate use of peripherals keyboards, mice and printers, as well.

Some USB devices do feature a limited lockdown function, which can disable the USB stick if there is no user activity for a configurable period of time. But the Fujitsu system may well be more foolproof than these or other secure USBs that come with encryption and mandatory password protection.

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It said, “For example, the USB memory device can be set up with a policy whereby the data will be automatically deleted after 24 hours, or it will be deleted if the USB memory is plugged into an unregistered computer even once.”

The company also suggests that confidential data should be prevented from being copied except on predefined USB memory devices or servers.

It has addressed this problem with a file redirect system that ensures data from the USB memory device can only be stored on a specified server. It can also be used to prohibit confidential data from being sent as an e-mail attachment or from being printed. 

Since confidential data is prohibited from being written to the hard disk drive of the PC, it prevents data from being stored USB and later transferred to file-sharing networks, whether by accident or intentionally.

Its system prevents data from being copied from the self-erasing USB memory device to specific folders on a PC, or it can give the appearance of data being written to the PC’s hard disk drive, when in fact it remains on the USB memory device.

Both systems are currently undergoing internal trials at Fujitsu.

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