Aegis Padlock DT FIPS — USB 3.0 Desktop Drive Product Review

Bring out the big guns! Apricorn impresses with its huge capacity Aegis Padlock DT secure desktop hard drive.

Tech Trends is delighted to review another product from specialists in secure storage solutions, Apricorn. Based in California with their EMEA headquarters in the UK these guys make some excellent kit. We have tried out several portable USB solutions in the last year, but this Aegis Padlock DT FIPS — USB 3.0 is a desktop drive which really looks the business sitting between my desktop server, mix desk, stereo amp, DAC and printer.

It has a strong steel case, grill and rear panel that looks like it would stand up to a good hammering and generally feels like a very serious bit of kit. The drive comes in a range of capacities from 2TB up to a whopping 12TB so there is plenty of scope for different professional use cases from photography to secure office backups.

Looking at the security specs it’s clear the impenetrable exterior is backed up by an equally impenetrable interior. Like all the Apricorn products I have tried out, it is software-free and uses 100% hardware-based encryption — in this case, 256-bit AES XTS. It is onboard keypad PIN authenticated and boasts ultra-fast USB 3.1 (3.0) data transfer speeds. Of course, most hard drives can’t work as fast as a USB 3 bus but the Aegis Padlock DT managed around 185Mbps read and write in my tests. Very impressive when you consider that all data is also encrypted on the fly.

The Aegis Padlock DT’s FIPS 140–2 validation covers 11 areas of its cryptographic security system, including physical security, cryptographic key management and design integrity. Level 2 encryption validation encompasses both the Padlock DT’s physical tamper-resistant features as well as its identity-based authentication.

To put your mind at rest the device’s PINs and data remain encrypted while the drive is at rest, and just like the Aegis Secure Key 3z I tested recently, all internal componentry is protected from physical tampering with a layer of hardened epoxy. Its firmware is also locked down preventing any modifications, which make it immune to malware attacks such as BadUSB.

Tested and validated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for use by the Federal governments of the USA, Canada and others, the Aegis Padlock DT Drive is based on Apricorn’s FIPS 140–2 Level 2 validated encryption module as indicated by certificate #2835. The Padlock DT’s security policy is located on the NIST site.

Apricorn really gets the variety of different environments professionals can work in so the Aegis Padlock DT is completely cross-platform compatible and OS agnostic, thriving on Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, and Chrome. It also works where software-based encrypted devices can’t function such as embedded systems, diagnostic machinery, and equipment in possession of a powered USB port and storage file system. This flexibility alone is a great reason to look at Apricorn products as you need to know that when you walk into an edit suite, a server room or a regular office, your drive will plug in and just work.

The epoxy coated boundary includes all encryption functions and all Critical Security Parameters (CSPs) such as PIN storage, encryption key generation and storage, random number and seed generators, and all firmware storage. The FIPS module is a complete encryption system, and all CSPs never leave the boundary and are never shared with a host system. By design, the HDD/SSD that stores the encrypted data is excluded from this boundary to maximize affordability and flexibility in capacity and form factor offerings.

Like all desktop drives, this pulls a bit more current than a smaller portable USB only drive so comes with a power supply and the included USB 3 Type A to B cable is good quality, and actually of a usable length — no crappy twelve-inch cables here. It is also quiet in use and a good, portable size for a desktop drive. Like all Apricorn products, this is sturdy, practical, easy to use with software-free setup, secure and well priced, what’s not to like?

RRP: Sizes 2TB to 12TB £200-£650

Tom Atkinson is a Digital Producer & Photographer at R3Digital and Reviews & Dept. Editor at Tech Trends. Connect on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @R3Digital

Technology writer for FastCo, Quartz, The Next Web, Ars Technica, Wired + more. Consultant specializing in VR #MixedReality and Strategic Communications

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