Secure Computing

Physical security for peripherals

Portable storage devices like small external hard disks, USB drives, or even iPods used for data storage are all very easy to lose, or to steal.

Tips for portable device security

  • Keep the drive on you at all times, ideally on your keychain if small enough, or something else you always have with you.
  • Make the drive hard to lose. Some flash drives come with neck straps or lanyards. Even if you don't wear the drive around your neck, the strap will make it more noticeable and harder to leave behind.
  • Never leave an external drive attached to a computer. Transfer your files, then immediately store the drive. Many drives are lost because their owners transferred a PowerPoint file for a presentation, then forgot the flash drive at the end of the talk.
  • Don't store older documents on an external drive. Bring only what you need in the immediate future, and archive older files to your desktop or laptop computer.
  • If you have PGP Whole Disk Encryption installed on your computer you can use PGP to encrypt most types of external hard drives and flash drives.

Encrypted USB drives available free to the community

The Yale Information Security Office has approved the Imation Enterprise D250 flash drives, USB devices that provide AES hardware encryption that meets FIPS 140–2 Level 3 requirements. The Imation Enterprise D250 may be used to safely store sensitive / 3-Lock data.  16GB versions are available from our Walk-in Help Desks for free to the Yale community.  For additional details on this solution, visit the service page.

Cable locks for larger external storage devices like hard disks and CD-DVD drives

The easiest, least expensive solution to prevent theft of desktop equipment is a cable lock that loops through the case of your external hard disk.