Ironkey S200 Personal Review

I don’t wont to go over to much of what has already been covered by the Enterprise Review from last week. The main focus of this review is to demonstrate that you don’t have to be part of a large organisation to benefit from what the Ironkey has to offer, as the personal versions are great to. As I previously said I have been using Ironkeys for a while myself and these are personal devices.

Below will be a brief recap of what the Ironkey Personal is all about and how you go from opening the box, to secure storage and browsing.

Personal Version Specs:
Rugged Metal Casing
Waterproof
Tamper-Resistant
AES 256BIT Hardware Encryption
FIPS Validated 140-2 Level 3
Strong Authentication
Secure Browser / Portable Apps
Secure Password Management
Self Service Password Recovery

So you have just got your hands on your nice new shiny S200 Ironkey personal, you have popped open the nicely designed black box and popped it into your USB slot. The first step is to initialise your key.

Its important to give your Ironkey an appropriate name, so that you can easily identify it in your personal online console, because your going to want more than one at some point. The next one is to obviously select a strong passphrase. It might be AES256 bit encrypted, but using the password “password” isnt going to be that secure.

The part it to read through and accept or reject the T’s and C’s.

Once thats all out of the way the Ironkey will start doing its thing, encryption, configuring and installing.

As with the enterprise version, you need somewhere to keep track of your keys, backup your password for recovery, etc etc. So now you need to create online account, or if like me add your Ironkey to your existing account.


Now your account is setup, Ironkey will send you an email with an activation code. You will need to enter this into your online account, to setup and confirm association with your account and your Ironkey.

Now your good to go. You should find that the Ironkey control panel has also launched, and this gives you access to the various pre-installed application and services. Secure Firefox browser, password managers, update manager and more.



You will also notice there is an option to fill in some Lost and Found information. This is then displayed to anyone who inserts and attempts to activate the Ironkey. They can then contact you to make you aware of how foolish you were to lose your precious key 🙂

So thats pretty much you good to go. However I will add one thing, that seems to be very unclear when your looking around online. People seem to think for some reason you are unable to install new applications onto your Personal Ironkey. Well of course you can. I will quickly go through how to install Pidgin, and other applications should be the same.

First off head along to Portable Apps, and get yourself a copy of Pidgin.

You then simply install this to the secure files location on your Ironkey. Then from your Ironkey control panel right click on the applications screen and select add application.

Now select the Pidgin Executable in your secure storage location. Then Bob’s your uncle you have Pidgin good to go.

I hope this review was information and helpful to a few of you. For more information on Ironkey and where to buy one check out their website.

Ironkey S200 Enterprise Review

I am a probably a little biased, as I have been using a personal Ironkey 1GB S100 for some time now, and have recently got myself an 8GB S200 thanks to Don at The Ethical Hacker Network, so its clear I think they rock, and in my opinion I really do think they are the best secure USB Pen Drive on the market.

However I have never had any exposure to their enterprise offering, and with lots of companies now looking to adopt secure portable / removable media I think if Ironkey could be a good solution from a device perspective to help with data loss prevention. Ironkey have been kind enough to set me up with a temporary enterprise account, and sent me a couple of enterprise S200 1GB sticks to have a look how it all hangs together.

Before I get started, if you have never heard of Ironkey, let me just give you a little bit of info on what they are all about, and why in my opinion they are the 007 secure usb stick of choice, did I mention they look the business to 🙂

Enterprise Version Specs:
Rugged Metal Casing
Waterproof
Tamper-Resistant
AES 256BIT Hardware Encryption
FIPS Validated 140-2 Level 3
Strong Authentication
RSA SecureID / Verisign ID Protection
Secure Browser / Portable Apps
Self Destruction
Anti-Malware Protection

So on with the review. First we need an Ironkey Enterprise Account, and an Enterprise Ironkey, I was provided with both of these. When you get an Ironkey it comes in a little black box, once you have opened it up and plugged in the Enterprise Ironkey and the launcher is run, you are informed that you need to activate your Ironkey. (*Setup on a Mac)

To progress past this stage you will need an activation code that your Ironkey Enterprise would have setup for you through the console. This will result in you having received an email with your activation code.

So with that in mind we will go to the Enterprise Web Interface and get things setup (policies, preferences and accounts).
First we log in with our Enterprise Account number.

Now as its our first login we need to go through the 10 steps of getting our configuration setup that we are going to apply to all the Ironkeys in our enterprise.

Step 1 – Make sure we are the right man for the job…. Check 🙂

Step 2 – Now we need to define how many failed password attempts before the Ironkey self destructs. (Default is 10)
Its important to remember once destruction occurs, thats it. No undo or try again.

Step 3 – Now we define our password settings, complexity, and recovery settings.

Step 4 – Now we setup the default applications available from the Ironkeys, Firefox, RSA, etc

Step 5 – Its all about the Lost & Found. We can configure a message that will seen by anyone who inserts the Ironkey

Step 6 – Now we setup the Enterprise Administrator Account, with a strong password.

Step 7 – Time for some challenge response info, for when we forget ourselves.

Step 8 – Now to create your secret identification image to ensure your at the REAL Ironkey admin page.

Step 9 – Creating your backup sys admin account.

Step 10 – Confirming everything is just how you wanted it.

So now we have our admin account setup and our admin Ironkey associated. So lets take a look at what we can do at the web interface. Its important to understand that logging into your management interface requires two factor authentication, so not only your username and password, but your Ironkey also. If you dont have your Ironkey you just get into the Safe Mode option.

So when we login with the Ironkey we get all the good stuff, user management, policy creation alteration, alerts, log information and more. Things are pretty self explanatory, so here is a screen shot montage.

Now we can continue to activate our Ironkey, as we have created an account, and associate policy.

Now we setup a name for our Ironkey and a strong passphrase.

The key is then initialised and encrypted.

Then then if the user doesnt already have an online account, they are prompted to create one.

Now the user is good to go, the policy will have been applied, applications made available and secure storage created.

If the user is also an administrator they get access to admin tools from their Ironkey also, allowing them to recover data from other Ironkey, reauthorise, etc.


Below are also some screen shots of an Ironkey that has been assigned a Silver Bullet Policy meaning it cannot be used unless it is connected to the Internet for authentication, and a device that has been disabled.

Here is the control panel a user see’s on a Mac and PC, do control panel is currently available to Linux users.

Its pretty clear that PC users currently get better percs from the Ironkey, but regardless of the plaform your getting some awesome secure storage. I am really impressed with the simple yet appropriate level of control the Ironkey Enterprise solution gives, and I dont think I would hesitate to recommend this to a customer. I will say that I had one device get stuck in some sort of authentication loop, but Ironkey support where extremely helpful, and the few things we tried didn’t work so they sent out a replacement by Fedex.
Ironkey also offer pretty much the same offering but for personal users, and I will be putting up a similar mini review of this offering later in the month.

For more information on the Ironkey offerings, and to locate your local reseller visit the Ironkey website.

I will leave you with a short video clip I made, testing the waterproof theory of the Ironkey S200.

Waterproof Testing