In a nutshell: Balancing data security with user experience can be a fairly tough challenge, but one that Kingston is taking on with its new IronKey Vault Privacy 80 external SSD. This drive includes a color touchscreen for easier, flexible password management, alongside security measures like 256-bit hardware encryption and digitally-signed firmware for protection against BadUSB attacks and brute-forcing.
Most PC users will be satisfied with the variety of storage options currently available, choosing to go after speed, capacity, portability or a good mix of the three depending on their budget and use case. However, those working with highly sensitive data or are simply looking for the best in terms of security tend to focus on drives like Kingston's newly announced IronKey Vault Privacy 80.
Due to the built-in security measures, such drives don't bring the cutting edge in terms of sheer performance but deliver enough to make the data transfer rates bearable. The Kingston IronKey VP80ES is no different in this regard, maxing out with 250MB/s read and writes over its USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C interface.
Where the IronKey is meant to excel is data security while also being user-friendly. The latter aspect is addressed with a color touchscreen that gives access to onboard Admin controls for configuring PIN/Passphrase modes, setting password rules, auto-locking the drive after a certain time period and enabling/disabling read-only mode.
While a password reveal/mask option is present on the touchscreen interface to reduce password errors, doing it enough times - configurable between 10-30 attempts - will cause the drive to crypto-erase itself as a preventive measure against brute-force attacks.
Users can also randomize the touchscreen layout and securely erase the drive through extended security options. As for hardware encryption, the IronKey VP80ES supports the XTS-AES 256-bit standard, and has a CC EAL5+ certified secure microprocessor.
For external protection, the drive is bundled with a rubberized (neoprene) travel case, and includes USB-C-to-C and USB-C-to-A adapter cables out of the box. Kingston is launching the IronKey VP80ES in three storage capacities and a 3-year warranty. As for price, B&H's current listing reveals it to be expensive, coming in at $437 (480GB), $535 (960GB) and $762 for the 1.92TB model.