review

DataLocker Sentry K300 Solid State Flash Drive with Oled Screen

Monday, December 09, 2019

There are three basic ways to encrypt data on a USB drive. The first way is to write software-encrypted files to a standard drive, which is the cheapest option but, it's also the less secure. The second way is to use a hardware encrypted USB drive with a software interface and, the third way is to use a hardware encrypted USB drive like the DataLocker Sentry K300 that has its own interface and keypad.
Like many encrypted USB drives, the DataLocker Sentry K300, also integrates a keypad but, it is slightly different to the others because it is a solid state flash drive with an oled display that supports an on-board menu system that is navigated via the integrated keypad, which works a bit like a computer and keyboard.
The K300 keypad even has a backspace and enter buttons, as well as up/down navigational buttons and a reboot function, which is activated via the reset button located inside a tiny pinhole at the bottom of the keypad, between the 8 and 9 keypad numbers and, the power/backspace and enter buttons.
The DataLocker Sentry K300 weighs just 30 grams and has a long, slimline construction, measuring 10cm long, 2cm wide and 1cm thick so, it shouldn't block any neighboring USB ports. The led indicator light is subtle and discreet and located at the bottom end, which is designed to accommodate the rubber cap, which provides IP57 dust resistance and waterproof resistance up to 1 meter. There is a pass-through opening on the bottom end, which presumably can be used as a keyring slot.
The Sentry K300 screen selection can only be accessed after the correct password has been entered. The password can be from 7 characters to 30 characters in length and can include numbers and/or letters, which makes the K300 a bit more flexible than other security usb drives that require a pre-set password length. That said, the K300 also lets you enable a strong password setting that will prompt users of the K300 drive to enter a strong password, consisting of 8 characters, 1 letter and no consecutive numbers.
Navigating through the K300 drive screens is easy but can be made more convenient by using a usb extension cable (not included) between the computer usb port and the K300 so, the drive can be positioned closer to you.
After the password has been entered, you are presented with four options, including the menu screen where you can change settings such as password, adjust auto-lock, enable read-only mode and boot mode so, you can boot up a portable operating system. With read-only enabled, anybody who uses the K300 drive cannot modify files or add any new files to the drive. Auto-lock lets you pre-set a time for when the K300 should lock itself after being idle (maximum of 180 minutes).
The Sentry K300 comes with a self destruct function, which cannot be disabled. After 20 incorrect password attempts, the K300 drive has been programmed to erase all the contents on the drive, which effectively turns the drive to factory settings. Before the drive self-destructs, warning messages will appear on the screen before the 20th attempt. For instance, after 18th consecutive incorrect password attempt, the message “Brute Force detected!" will appear.
The on-screen warning messages are a good example of the usefulness of having a screen display on a USB drive. Most security USB drives don't have a display so, it's not as easy to tell when incorrect attempts are being made. With the K300 display screen, the user is visually able to see what is going, which should prevent anybody from accidentally erasing the contents on the drive. You can also manually erase the files, password and settings from the Sentry K300 drive by using a function called, Zeroize.
The Sentry K300 also features two power saving modes: screensaver mode (screen turns off after 10 seconds) and inactivity mode, which automatically powers the K300 drive when the drive is not connected to a computer. Both screensaver and inactivity modes cannot be disabled.
Because each button on the K300 keypad has one number and three to four letter options, you can create a very strong alpha-numeric password via 256-bit AES-XTS block cipher mode encryption, which is a very safe way to encrypt data.
XTS, which stands for XEX-based tweaked codebook mode with ciphertext stealing, is much safer than AES-CBC (Cipher Block Chaining) block cipher mode, AES-ECB (Electronic Code Book) block cipher mode and software-based encryption. This is because data is encrypted into separate encrypted block ciphers without the encryption being exported the host computer. This makes the Sentry K300 solid state flash drive immune to malware attacks and cold boot attacks so, noone will be able to install malicious software or boot from the Sentry K300 drive unless they know the password.
The Sentry K300 drive works with Windows, Chrome OS, Linux and macOS, as well as Android phones. In fact, you can use the Sentry K300 as a live USB so, you can store any portable operating system (i.e. Windows to Go, Ubuntu Linux) in the Sentry K300 drive and boot it from any computer.
As far as data transfer speed, it does depend on the computer and USB port the K300 drive is connected to. If connected to a USB 3.0 port (aka USB 3.1 Gen 1), you can expect faster speeds (up to 220MB/s read and 100MB/s write) than via USB 2.0 (up to 30MB/s read and 20MB/s write). The storage capacity of the K300 drive also plays a role in the speed transfer since the larger storage capacity of the K300 drive (from 64GB to 256GB) provides write speeds twice as fast (up to 200MB/s).
The Sentry K300 drive comes formatted as NTFS from the factory but, the K300 drive can be reformatted to any file system of your choosing to accommodate a different operating system or to remove file size restrictions.
The Sentry K300 can be reformatted as FAT32 or exFAT. The advantage of NTFS and exFAT is that there is no file size limitations, while FAT32 is limited to 4GB. That said FAT32 is the only file system that is fully compatible with Windows, macOS and Linux. NTFS only supports macOS and Linux in read-only, while exFAT does not supported legacy operating systems; hence no support for Windows 95, Windows 96, Windows 98, and Windows Me.
Speaking of compatibility, the K300 is also compatible with various Citrix server solutions, including Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops service, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops service on Azure, XenDesktop 7.14, XenDesktop 7.15 LTSR, XenDesktop 7.16 and XenDesktop 7.17.
A 3 year limited warranty is included with the K300 drive, which also covers the battery though, a battery is not required to unlock or access the K300 nor the battery affect the encryption because all the data is encrypted at the hardware level. Even with a flat battery, the K300 drive will turn on when inserted into a USB port so, you can access the files. The battery can be fully recharged in half-hour by plugging it into a USB port.
The Sentry K300 can also be managed by a software called, SafeConsole, which can be installed locally, or hosted from the SafeConsole Cloud so, no software to install locally. The SafeConsole software lets you take full control of the K300 so, you can make the drive even more restrictive by being able to change the number of failed password attempts, impose location boundaries, and even erase contents from a Sentry K300 solid state flash drive remotely.

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