Data security is increasingly an issue for more than just IT managers. With laptops being prevalent and pervasive, it's crucial that every employee understands that carrying around confidential or sensitive data on unencrypted hard drives or memory cards just isn't good enough.
Enter Viasat with a range of internal and external hard drives which offer built-in encryption that aims to keep your data safe from any potential snoop and means that, if you misplace a drive, no one can see what's stored on it.
The company deals with governments and the military, so it's pretty reasonable to assume that it has passed all manner of very aggressive security tests, which should reassure anyone who thinks it might not be capable of keeping your data safe.
Like any other drive
There isn't a lot of song and dance about the Viasat drive. It doesn't scream high security, and we think this is good. There is, after all, no point in telling everyone that you're carrying around potentially sensitive data, even if it's safely locked away.
On the top of the drive are quite a few bits of writing, and this is partially because the product name is so confusing. According to its moniker, it's the Eclypt Flagstone Evolution Freedom which is a mouthful, and really over the top.
The only other relevant features physically are the two USB sockets on the rear of the device and a pair of lights that confirm the device is powered and transferring data.
A 'y' cable is supplied, which is useful if your laptop or desktop computer can't send enough power via just one socket. This is common on laptops, and this portable drive is likely to be popular with mobile users, so this is good to see. There is no option to power the device from the mains, however.
Optional enterprise-level management
If you're managing a lot of users, there is some software available from Viasat which can help you manage multiple drives from multiple users.
The software is quite flexible, and will allow you to help users recover data if they lose a password, and managers can apply changes to user drives which will be applied the next time the device is connected. Changes made when drives aren't plugged in can also be reported the next time the device is connected.
We haven't tried this software, and for small deployments it's probably not worthwhile, but for bigger companies we can see it being incredibly useful.
Set-up and first use
The thing we most liked about the Viasat Eclypt Freedom is the plug-and-play simplicity. We don't think that, just because encryption is a complex thing, with complex inner workings, that the hardware needs to be too.
Viasat has proved this to be true by offering one of the simplest encryption systems possible. Simply plug in the drive and wait. Windows initially mounts two volumes. One has the log-in application for Windows and Linux, while the other contains some system files that are of no real interest to us.
When you log in, you firstly provide the username. Once this is done, the password entry box will become activated, and you can enter your password. Once you've done that, you're ready to use the drive. There's nothing else to do, and you won't need to log in again until the device is powered down.
After the log in is complete, the initial pair of drives are unmounted and the main data area appears, ready for use.
Software is also provided if you need to attach the drive to Linux machines. For those wishing to use the Windows command line, this is also possible using a simple command. Although the one thing we didn't like about this was that someone watching would be able to see you type your password, and see it appear on screen.