Military Grade USB Drive

Brand: Apricorn
Model: ASK-256-16GB
EAN: 0718117595387
Category: Gadgets & Tools
Price: $109.99  (118 customer reviews)
Dimension: 0.75 x 3.00 x 0.30 inches
Shipping Wt: 0.10 pounds. FREE Shipping (Details)
Availability: In Stock.
Average Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

Apricorn’s Aegis Secure Key brings security to your fingertips. This easy to use and USB flash drive incorporates PIN access with military grade 256-bit AES hardware encryption. With an easy-to-use keypad that is resistant moisture, dust and grit, Secure Key enables you to access the drive with your own unique PIN. There are no software updates or ADMIN rights to contend with, making this drive a breeze to implement in both government and corporate environments. Tested and Validated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Aegis Secure Key is certified to meet the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2 Level 3 specification. FIPS 140-2 Level 3 validation is the cryptography standard required by the US federal government for protection of sensitive data. It covers 11 areas of its cryptographic security system, including physical security, cryptographic key management and design integrity. Drives Validated to the FIPS 140-2 Level specification are required to be used by U.S. government agencies as well as civilian companies in the US, Canada and the United Kingdom that contract to the US government. Using a rechargeable battery, the Aegis Secure Key enables the user to unlock the drive with a 7-15 digit PIN before connecting to the USB port on your computer, tablet or mobile device. The embedded keypad prevents hardware and software key logging attempts to hack your password entered via the host system.Secure Key is ready to go right out of the box. It does not require any software or drivers to be installed and is compatible with PCs, MACs, Linux and embedded systems. Secure Key can be configured with independent User and Admin PINs, making it ideal for corporate and government deployment. If the User forgets their PIN, the drive can be unlocked by the Admin PIN which will then clear the old User PIN and allow the User to set a new PIN.Since Secure Key is unlocked using its own keypad and not the PC keyboard, it is not vulnerable to software/hardware based key-loggers or brute force attacks. In addition the Aegis Secure Key further protects your data with a “Brute Force Hack Defense Mechanism”, which deletes the encryption key if the incorrect PIN is entered a total of 10 consecutive times.


  • FIPS Validated 256-bit Military Grade Hardware Encryption
  • PIN activated 7-15 digits - Alphanumeric keypad use a memorable number or word for your PIN
  • It does not require any software or drivers to be installed and is compatible with PCs, MACs, Linux and embedded systems.
  • Its rugged, extruded aluminium, water proof casing is tamper evident and protects it against physical damage
  • Compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux and embedded systems; Works with any USB/USB On-The-Go devices
  • The Aegis Secure Key also includes a drive reset feature which clears both User and Admin PINs, destroys the data, creates a new randomly generated encryption key and allows the drive to be reused.
  • The Aegis Secure Key instantly locks once unplugged from your computers USB port.
  • The internal drive components are protected by a super tough epoxy compound, which is virtually impossible to remove without causing permanent damage to the electronics

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Top Reviews

Jury is still out on this one... will continue updating long term
by Interwebz Admin (4 out of 5 stars)
November 13, 2012

Just a note for people coming into this review late; I recommend that you slow format this drive the first time. Don't use it from the factory or do a quick format from Mac or PC. If you use it with a Mac, a few things to watch out for further on.

Nov 13 2012 - Purchased one last weekend, got it, changed the password (which was easy) and mounted it from my Mac. Threw some files on, used it several more times the next day, mounted it from my Android tablet, was able to access the files. Took a plane flight that night, it got x-rayed, then on Monday my Mac, PC and Android all said unrecognizable partition. I had done a quick-format ExFAT partition from the Mac originally. So this time I did a FAT32 partition and slow format from a Windows 2008 server. I've since put files back on it and have been able to use it from all the same devices again, no problems.

So, what went wrong, no idea, but I'll have to give it some time before I'd feel confident having the only copy of important files on the device. I'll keep using my PGP-encrypted desktop drive as the primary copy.

I'll come back and update this review after some time passes as it's only been a few days. If the device proves reliable after time and a few more runs through an airport x-ray then I'll increase the rating.

Dec 11, 2012 - no issues yet, no plane flights yet either but I do have two coming up so it will get some x-ray zapping soon enough and we'll see what happens.

Jan 2013 - have flown about three round trips so it's been scanned six more times, no issues to report. No explanation for what caused that initial failure; will post a long term update later on and adjust up to five starts if nothing goes wrong in the future AND the password change I plan to make in five or six months goes successfully.

March 2013 - still no new issues to report; bumping up the stars. :-) I just bought one of their encrypted 1TB hard drives too.

Dec 2013 - still working flawlessly. I'm buying another one for a friend who noticed it and asked about it. Updating to five stars, but my recommendation of doing an initial slow format still stands. I'm going to edit the first part of the review to reflect this too.

June 2015 - downgrading to four stars. You buy these things to secure your data in the event you lose the USB drive, you don't buy them to hold irreplaceable data (or at least that should not be why). I bought a 32 gig model a few months ago, put it into use, and let my 16 sit around. Just one random day, the drive blinks green after entering my PIN like it's unlocked, but my Mac won't see it. If I leave it plugged in, about a minute later I'll get a flip flop of green and red LED flashes. Nothing I could do would make it recognized. I did factory reset (fortunately I didn't have irreplaceable data on it), still won't work. I RMA'd it to Apricorn, they confirmed it had died, sent me a new one.

In the mean time, I get my 16gig back out, the battery had died. I plug it in to my desktop iMac, enter the PIN, update the data on it, forget to eject, unplug. Few hours later, I plug into my MacBook since it had not had enough time to charge up for PIN entry, enter the PIN, MacBook reports it's damaged and do I want to initialize? WTF?! I had just left on a trip and needed the data on there, so great. I didn't have my data either way, so I didn't initialize it yet. When I got back home, my desktop now would not read it either. I initialized, this time I went with HFS+ journaled instead of exFAT since I've been using mostly Mac's these days, thing is working again. You of course should never forget to properly unmount a file system, and it was exFAT which I'm not sure how well it handles improper activity, but man, some bad luck for me it feels like since I've forgotten to eject other volumes before.

So at this point, I've had some really random failures of these things, either up front when I don't slow format, after some x-ray activity (who knows if that was really the cause), one new 2015 32gig model that died after two months, random unexplained file system or partition corruption when not properly ejected (albeit with exFAT, not NTFS or HFS+), etc. Apricorn has replaced the dead one, and so far both continue to work, but I'm downgrading to four stars since I've now had several unexplained issues over the three years I've been using these.
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...there is nothing better on the market...
by Thomas Paine (5 out of 5 stars)
October 13, 2016

Most people don't realize how vulnerable they are to data thief or even worse, identity thief: passwords, birth/death certificates, education records, accounts, tax records, - hell, even resumes... There are specific things that you just should not keep on an open drive or even a password locked drive. Most think that if they have a password on their computer or USB hard drive that's enough. I assure you it is not. There are software programs that can be activated again passwords and with a very good possibility to defeat them. I must give this device 5-stars as it performs flawlessly protecting my data from falling into bad hands but also because it's fairly rugged, weatherproof and dustproof in its metal case. Hopefully, this device will continue to prove to be reliable in the coming years, time will tell. There is one flaw that is obvious: battery. You cannot replace the battery yourself and it must be return to manufacture. It is expensive but there is nothing better on the market at this time so - 5-stars...

EDIT: March 2019, I have now 2 of these devices, purchased in July 2016 and March 2017. Both have proved to be completely reliable. And, should the battery fail, it's possible to still access your data by simply plugging it into a USB port to provide power while punching in your access code. Currently, I am purchasing a 3rd one as intend to keep a 3rd copy of my sensitive files/documents in my safe deposit box and update it quarterly. So, 2 at home in my safe and 1 at my bank.
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Great tool to secure information!
by FederalITGuy (5 out of 5 stars)
January 24, 2012

I work for a federal district court and our judges were always looking for methods to carry sensitive data without having to deal with encryption software solutions.

We tried IronKey but they didn't want software running every time they tried to access the drive. I suggested the Aegis SecureKey. I received the drive, plugged it in, followed the instructions, and was able to access it on my PC, Mac, and Linux boxes with no problem.

I ran it through several tests: filling it up, dropping it in a glass of water, stepping on it, plugging and unplugging it at random, and it came through without a flaw!

Now we have a series of these deployed and the judges love it! They can set their own PINs and, since I set up the Admin pin, they can be assured that if they ever forget their PIN I can reset it by them simply dropping off the drive in my office.

We are ordering more of these for other agencies so if you need a portable solution for your data this is it!
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Failed after one year. If you need to protect client information, forget this USB!!!
by Amazon Customer (1 out of 5 stars)
April 5, 2016

I bought this USB for security reasons. What a wonderful idea even at the outrageous price of $169 just to have the security! One year later, the USB drive failed. Thank goodness I wasn't counting on it for my only backup and transfer ability! The company would have gladly replaced it, BUT I had to return the bad key. I asked if I could drill holes in it and then return it. The company said no. Why would I want to return a key to someone I don't know with all of my encrypted documents that as a professional I protect for my clients? Just think iPhone. Is it safe to return it intact - and if I do would they fix and and turn it out there again exposing it to who knows what? I choose to not return it and lose the $169, but I am extremely unhappy and therefore cannot order another one. If you need to protect client information forget this USB!!!
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Good security, but slower than others
by Brian C. Miller (4 out of 5 stars)
September 12, 2013

This review compares the Corsair Padlock 2 and Apricorn Aegis Secure Key USB drives. Both drives are 16Gb, and have a PIN pad.

The Aegis comes with a default PIN, and the manual recommends that you change it right away. Setting up a PIN is easy, and isn't a hassle. The Corsair allows you to enter a 4 to 10 digit pin, using 5 numbers (there's only five keys, so it doesn't matter that they're marked twice). The Aegis allows 7 to 15 digits, and it has 10 numeric keys.

Both the Corsair and the Aegis allow you to change the PIN without wiping the data. When the Corsair is inserted without unlocking the device, Windows doesn't see anything on the USB port at all. When the Aegis is inserted without locking the device, Windows sees the device, but doesn't know what it is.

Here's my speed test, on a USB 2.0 port:
2.73Gb of music files, write speed:

Corsair Padlock 2 = 6.4Mb/sec

Apricorn Aegis Secure Key = 3.8Mb/sec

Sandisk Extreme USB 3.0 = 12.5Mb/sec

The Sandisk was used without encryption.

Would I use the Corsair or the Aegis for confidential information? Sure. The Corsair locks the user out for two minutes after 5 unsuccessful login tries, while the Aegis will require a total reset (data wipe!) after 10 tries. Both allow the use of a master (administrator) PIN. I'd say that's good enough for confidential data.

Is it good enough for secret and above? I wouldn't rely on the PIN pad protection for just that. As another review noted, the Corsair may expose your data, after a wash or other malfunction. The PIN isn't used on either of them for data encryption, just for USB access. I would encrypt the files first, and then store them on the drive. The PIN adds a layer of security, but it isn't perfect.
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Good for data/backup, maybe not so for booting via USB image
by srf4 (3 out of 5 stars)
February 16, 2015

Its works fine for just storing data or backup. Works on linux, probably any OS. Rechargeable battery is not replaceable - one day it'll wear out and be less convenient to use (it'll need to be plugged in before enabled.) Not sure there is a significant advantage over software encryption if you are just storing data.

I was not successful in setting it up to act as a boot device with a complete OS image. I tried several different methods of creating a bootable USB drive with linux. This device gave errors when trying to write out the boot loader (grub2). Regular USB flash drives all work using the same methods. Maybe something in the firmware prevents installing it? Even if it was successful it might be a pain to use as a boot device, depending on if your bios will give priority to USB drives. You need to enable it first, plug in, then turn on your computer - in quick sequence - because it'll only wait some seconds for power. Not sure it'd work better on a powered USB port - I wasn't able to try that.

Data is really no more secure than the OS. Being able to boot to an OS image on USB that is only used for secure computing would've been nice. With software encryption your boot loader and OS image typically need to remain unencrypted and thus subject to tampering.
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I would highly recommend this thumb Drive
by John Senchak (5 out of 5 stars)
November 30, 2012

I have ordered two Aegis Padlock Pro's hard drives in the past and love them. However because where I use the hard drives doesn't allow them anymore, I had to find a alternative. So I looked at all the thumb drives on Amazon and returned again to Apricorn Aegis after doing research on their website. I use portable apps on thumb drives and wanted something that would take the abuse. I bought this thumb drive after reading the other positive reviews. here on I received this thumb drive and liked the well built construction, verses the cheap plastic ones that don't last long. I found the instructions to set up the drive pretty easy to understand. The only thing was that I started on the wrong side of the page which caused me a little confusion. Once I flipped to the other side things started to make sense. I was able to access the thumb drive and it mounted the computer very fast. I noticed that with both Windows Vista and Seven the drive mounted the operating system very fast without any problems. I tried running Firefox 17.0.0 Portable App on this thumb drive and was highly impressed that it didn't hang or slow down during normal surfing of websites. Even when opening a lot of tabs or installing extensions, the thumb drive preformed above average. If you take internet security seriously on public computers ( like in libraries) then I would buy this drive and install a third party portable app browser. Once you unplug the thumb drive all your surfing history goes with you and it doesn't leave a trace on the computer .

I would highly recommend all Apricorn Aegis products if you are into internet security. and want to protect your data from criminals or government agencies
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it's great - when it does not work
by J Lawry (3 out of 5 stars)
October 4, 2014

Mixed review. I purchased the unit and it worked really well - for about 90 days - then, without any indication of pending trouble, the unit became completely inoperable. Dead as doornail. After talking with the client for whom I was doing work on data he considered sensitive, we decided not to seek a replacement as that required sending the defective unit back to the manufacturer where, it seemed to us, they might plausibly have the means of restoring the data. We choose to not risk that possible loss of data security. We have found another means of securely moving information between computers. My suggestion to you, a potential buyer, is to be aware of the possible shortcomings of using this device. When it works, it's great - when it does not work, you're out of luck.
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Would by again in an instant. Love it!
by asdopuiwfhepn (5 out of 5 stars)
November 10, 2013

It feels very solid physically. It has some heft, some density, and there is no creaking to it. I have not found the keys to be a difficulty. My fingers strongly resemble vienna sausages, yet I have had no trouble. The keys give a perceptible click when pushed, reminiscent of an HP calculator, if you are old enough to remember those. You can't see it from the picture, but the cover seals the device with an O-ring, assuring some measure of water-tightness. Further, I couldn't tell from the picture that the key 'ring' is actually a steel cable which screws open and closed. Fifteen numbers is a lot to remember, and I have convinced myself that I can feel safe using fewer, knowing that a stranger would only get 10 tries to hack in.

Wish list:
--Some permanent connection from the cover to the ring, so that I don't have to leave the cover in my pocket or on mydesk. A rubber band has worked well enough, but lacks the 'cool' factor of something built in.
--If I don't use the device for n hours, it should deactivate itself and require the code to work again.

It would have been nice if it had been less expensive, but that's life, I suppose.
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The Best approach to Secure USB I have ever used
by Andrew Mcdowell (5 out of 5 stars)
April 5, 2013

I have tried several software versions to securing USB drives which all failed because of compatibility issues. The Microsoft solution, wiped out all my data... go figure. Finally I turned to this version of secure drive where you must enter a code in order to use the drive.

It works on any computer I plug it into, no matter the software, Linux (ubuntu, mint), Mac Power PC or Intel (running OSX), or Microsoft (windows). None of the software solutions I chose were able to cross all platforms.

If you are in the market for a secure drive or You want the ability to access your information securely on a variety of software platforms, then you should consider this solution. I have used this drive in daily business for over a year now, without incident. Excellent product in my opinion.

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