Product Review: iStorage diskAshur Pro2

Following our review of the diskAshur 2 SSD we test drive another super secure USB 3.1 encrypted portable hard drive, the Pro2 model. How does it compare?

Since I started building computers 15 years ago I have tried every kind of drive — and every type of encryption — out there. And I can tell you, it was never simple. It never “just worked”. Until now. I was very impressed in my quick test of the non Pro, SSD version of this drive but the Pro2 manages to keep the interface just as simple, while ramping up both the security and capacity.

Weighing in at half a pound this 1TB Pro2 from diskAshur has plenty of room for sensitive company or private documents and can lock them away behind impressive levels of encryption, certified to FIPS 140–2 Level 3, NCSC CPA (Foundation Level), Common Criteria and NLNCSA government accreditations. No one is getting their grubby hands on your data with this drive.

If you think a knack for Sudoku is going to get you into this drive, think again. The iStorage diskAshur Pro2 is intelligently programmed to protect against all forms of Brute Force attacks. Firstly, a wear-resistant epoxy coated keypad, designed with protection in mind, hides key usage to avoid tipping off a potential hacker to commonly used keys.

Then after five consecutive incorrect PIN entries the drive will freeze, requiring the drive to be disconnected and reconnected to the USB port to get a further five PIN entry attempts. If a further five (10 in total) consecutive incorrect PIN attempts are entered, the Pro2 will freeze again. To get a further and final five PIN attempts (15 in total), phew, I am sweating now, the “shift” button must be pressed whilst inserting the USB cable to the USB port and then an iStorage preset PIN will need to be entered.

On the fifteenth consecutive incorrect PIN entry, the Pro2 assumes it is being attacked and will delete the encryption key and lock itself, rendering all data previously stored on the drive lost forever. At this point the data is gone but your valuable hard drive is still ready to use again and can now be reset to factory default settings and redeployed, nice!

If this weren’t enough, the Pro2 features the same James Bond style Self-Destruct PIN option as the SSD version as well as a second Unattended Auto-Lock Feature that sets an unattended diskAshur Pro2 to automatically lock after a pre-determined amount of time where the drive has not been used, but don’t use this if time keeping is a personal issue.

Oh, and put your hammer and screwdriver away, in addition to incorporating a secure microprocessor, encrypting the data and the encryption key, the drive adds another physical barrier between your data and a hacker. All the components of the diskAshur Pro2 are completely covered by a layer of super tough epoxy resin, which is virtually impossible to remove without causing permanent damage to the components.

This barrier prevents a potential hacker from accessing the critical components and launching a variety of patently futile attacks. Furthermore, the tamper evident design of the Pro2 if, god forbid, it were breached, will provide visible evidence that tampering has occurred. I must also point out the rather tasty waterproof case that comes with the drive. It has a nice leatherish feel to it, a sturdy zip and includes a useful wrist strap.

I took the opportunity to test out this huge 1TB drive and entrusted it with the Master Cut of my recently finished feature film Borley Rectory as I toured the country screening it at festivals far and wide. The sheer size of the drive was welcome as I had to transport 832GB of valuable video and promotional material around, and knowing that the five years of work I put into the film was secure was a relief as I trundled from city to city on Britain’s terrible train network.

iStorage thoughtfully designed the Pro2 with a sleek looking silver grey finish so I looked a little more professional than if I had taken the bright, Tonka Toy red SSD version I have. The other outstanding feature of all these diskAshur drives is their cross platform compatibility meaning whatever system I plugged the Pro2 into it worked seamlessly, this was magic as you wouldn’t believe the problems I have had in the past with drive format clashes… W ell you might if you know your NTFS from your exFAT and your OSX Journaled. But overall, these drives do come highly recommended by Tech Trends!

RRP: £269 for 1TB Drive

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

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