Sun. May 26th, 2024

Introduction and Specifications:

When it comes to technology it often does not mix well with the terms off grid, SHTF, etc. Most of the time special care is needed to ensure that any devices, data, whatever; stays secure and safe for when you need it the most. One of the things we started doing here at OGT is making sure we have access to critical information when we need it. This data could be contact lists, a P.A.C.E. Plan, offline maps, anything you can think of you would need to have with you digitally.

To keep all of these digital items safe and secure you need a portal drive that not only can store what you need but can keep it from loss and destruction. One of these types of devices is the Aegis Secure Key 3.0 from Apricorn which we will be taking a look at today.

The Aegis Secure Key 3.0 we are reviewing was graciously sent to us from Apricorn for this review. The Secure Key 3.0 comes in a number of sizes including 

 

Specifications:

Data Transfer Rate:

Up to 195 Read / 162 Write

Power Supply:

USB Port / Internal Battery

Interface:

Super Speed USB 3.2 (Backwards compatible with USB 3.0, 2.0 and 1.1)

Dimensions:

95.5mm x 24.5mm x 12.6mm | 93mm x 24.5mm x 12.6mm (w/o sleeve) | 46 g

Warranty:

3-year Limited Warranty

Approvals:

FIPS 140-2 Level 3 Validated (certification #2376), IP-68, FCC & CE

ECCN / HTS / Cage Code:

5A992.c / 8523.51.0000 / 3VYK8

System Requirements:

Windows®, Mac®, Linux, Android and Symbian systems, or any powered USB OS with a storage file system

Closer Look:

The Aegis Secure Key 3.0 (referenced as SK3 going forward for simplicity) is made of Extruded Aluminum Enclosure with Protective Sleeve to allow for better heat dissipation and resistance to the elements. The SK3 is rated at IP68 for dust and water resistance. In case you are not familiar with the IP rating IP68 meets the minimum requirements of (6) total protection against solid ingress, and (8) total protection against water ingress, up to and including complete submersion below one meter and for more than 30 minutes. In addition to the physical protections the SK3 meets FIPS 140-2 Level 3 Certification (#2376). This rugged design of the SK3 is what really sets it apart from some of the competition using less rugged methods.

Removing the cover sleeve of the SK3 you can see how the access is controlled to this flash drive. Some “Encrypted Drives” actually use encrypted containers on the drive and thus needing to start some sort of software to “unlock” the encrypted portion of the drive. Others use methods such as fingerprint or in this case PIN codes. This is my preferred method for encrypted drives as not all devices can run the program such as routers/switches and thus not really making them useful.

Using the SK3 is very simple. When you first start the key you need to set a 6-8 character code either by the numbers or letters associated with the keypad. Once done you use that same pin/code to unlock the drive during needed use. There are several LEDs to show what operation mode the key is in. Red indicates the drive is locked. After you enter the correct pin the LED will change to the Green one showing the drive is unlocked and ready for use. If the red LED flashes then the passcode was incorrect.There are also built in security features that will destroy any data stored on the SK3 if the failed attempts exceed a pre-set value. There is even the ability to set a partition of the drive in “Read Only” mode. Fore more details on these and the rest of the exciting features of the SK3 check out the manual over at https://apricorn.com/content/product_pdf/aegis_secure_key/usb_3.0_flash_drive/ask3_manual_configurable_online_2.pdf

Speed Tests:

To test the data transfer capabilities of the Aegis Secure Key 3.0 we ran it through a number of industry standard benchmarks which stress the drive to show what the full potential is. We then matches it up against several other “encrypted” drives from Apricorn and other manufacturers to give a better baseline to compare against. The benchmarks we ran were Crystal DiskMark v8.0.5, Atto Benchmark 4.0.1, and USB Flash Benchmark. The testing setup is as follows:

  • Computer System: Dell Lattitude 7410
  • Tested Drives
    • Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3.0 16GB USB-A
    • Apricorn Aegis Secure Key NX 8GB USB-A
    •  Kingston DataTraveler 2000 32GB USB-A
    • Custom PCIe drive in Asus Republic of Gamers holder 1TB USB-A
Crystal DiskMark v8.0.5:

For the Crystal DiskMark tests you can see the SK3 had amazing read speeds but lacked a bit in the write speeds but not enough to make a difference for daily use.

Aegis Secure Key 3.0
Aegis Secure Key NX
Kingston DataTraveler 2000
Custom USB 3.1 PICe SSD
Atto Benchmark v4.0.1:

With the Atto Benchmark tests the SK3 performed amazing in both the read and the write tests consistently. The other two encrypted drives struggled in the write tests showcasing the features of the SK3 encrypted drive.

Aegis Secure Key 3.0
Aegis Secure Key NX
Kingston DataTraveler 2000
Custom USB 3.1 PICe SSD
USB Flash Benchmark:

For the USB Flash Benchmark we ran the defaults and again the SK3 showed amazing read and write speeds keeping consistent among the file sizes. The other two flash drives were all over the place with inconsistent speeds during the tests.

Aegis Secure Key 3.0
Aegis Secure Key NX
Kingston DataTraveler 2000
Custom USB 3.1 PICe SSD

IP Rating Testing:

To test the IP rating I wanted to simulate the worst case scenario so I created two “biomes” in a bowl with one having a muddy soupy mix to show the solids ingress protection and a cup with just water to simulate testing the liquids ingress protection. For the Solids I placed it in the bowl all the way in, let it sit for a minute and them removed it to see if any debris made its way past the gasket and into the body of the drive. For the water test, I submerged the drive fully and then check again to see if any water made it past the gasket and to the drive and keypad itself. To my delight as I expected the gasket design with the extruded aluminum casing really does keep that IP68 rating.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts:

Having the ability to store needed data such as financial information, digital copies of important documents such as birth certificates, etc. and self help books/guides for when you need them and the internet is not an option. I personally use my drive in-conjunction with and offline Raspberry Pi SHTF server to share information with my group as needed. I personally love the construction, especially with the aluminum cover instead of the silicon rubber one that comes with the Secure Key NX. Lastly, the fact that it is fully submersible means I wont have to worry about minor damage destroying my digital treasure trove. What do you think about drives like this? Do you find a use for them? Overall for the ease of use, strong feature set and average price point for the piece of mind we here give the Aegis Secure Key 3.0 a GOLD rating.

Disclosures: The Aegis Secure Key 3.0 was provided to us from Apricorn for evaluation however; we review all items with no agenda in mind and will give our sincere thoughts and testing for every product.

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