Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Top Secret USB stick uses wax seal for verification

       Way back when, before email, RSA keys, and 128-bit AES encryption, people had a pretty clever way of making sure that their mail was delivered unread. As you’ve seen in hundreds of movies, wax was poured onto a piece of parchment (or vellum, or whatever people were writing on) and while still hot the wax was imprinted with a symbol. That symbol was unique and complex, so that it could not be easily be forged. The meant that if you received a letter with the seal intact you could be reasonably sure that it hadn’t been read, tampered with, or forged. This wax-based authentication technology has finally made its way to USB keys.

Nowadays, if someone hands you a USB key there is no way of knowing if it had been accessed beforehand. Unless it’s encrypted and you’re given the key, it’s totally possible that someone could hop on, drop in a keylogger or some other malicious software, and be reading your email the next day. The Top Secret is a porcelain USB key that is designed to accept a wax seal, so you just need to seal it after you’ve dropped on your data. Once it makes its way to your business associate/significant other/spymaster, they’ll know it’s safe if that seal unbroken. If the seal is cracked or missing then they’ll know the stick has been accessed, and it’s possible that the USB stick is not safe to use or that the data has been copied.

Of course, you’ll need your signet — possibly in ring form — if you don’t have one already. (Talk about high class problems…) There are a few initial options on offer, but it seems easy enough to put together something on your own, it’s just a wax impression after all.

A 2GB Top Secret USB still will cost about $46, and 8GB model is $59.

No comments:

Post a Comment