Camouflage is an ancient yet simple concept: make your appearance mimic the environment in which you operate so as to appear part of the background noise of visual, auditory and other sensory tools used by those whose attention you wish to avoid.
The brave new world of the Internet has evolved so quickly though that blending in to a new landscape can be difficult; primarily for the lack of options and the obsolescence of the “old” tools we’ve always trusted.
While none of us would walk around with a Ben Franklin hanging out of our shirt pocket, or leave a credit card lying on the dash of our vehicle, we often ignore effective concealment of our online silhouette while patrolling the now-dangerous world of cyberspace.
Ones and Zeros
The digital world consists of a pattern of 1s and 0s; the secret to camouflaging yourself in this theatre is simply a matter of making the pattern of those digits blend into the background of all the other data streaming through those networks and servers. For most applications this is more a matter of concealment than cover, since you have to expose information such as passwords, account numbers and other identity confirming data to have any success in taking advantage of the cyber world’s bounty.
Therein lies the rub. How do you transfer that information without the prying eyes of online predators?
Let me introduce you to one tool that operates as a “digital camouflage” that allows you to move tactically around the Web.
IronKey is a military-grade security-hardened thumb drive that provides the option of secure web browsing using state-of-the-art 256 bit AES hardware encryption, proxy servers, and a cadre of other secure web options to provide the advantage you need to get down to business without attracting the unwanted attention of online predators.
The beauty of the device is its simplicity and portability; plug it into any computer USB port, private or shared, and you can engage a secure Mozilla Web browser with a TOR proxy server that camouflages your online activities from start to finish. Your banking, Web surfing, e-mails, passwords, etc. still travel over the same Wi-Fi frequencies and channels as before, but now they aren’t identified with you or your computer and they appear as an anonymous stream of data that blends in with all the other information pumping through the same pipeline.
IronKey also offers additional methods of security, after all a thumb drive is easy to lose or leave lying around where the wolves can jump on your information. The IronKey drive has a password-secure sign in that destroys the saved data Mission Impossible style if the password hackers make 10 wrong attempts to open the drive (though the makers guarantee there is no danger of a smoking mess if it happens). While that seems like an easy way to lose critical information, IronKey provides a simple method to securely backup the data to a new drive in case of a meltdown or loss of the drive.
The drive also provides a handy repository for all of your passwords, and a way to avoid entering passwords on computers that may have key-stroke intercepting malware used to steal passwords as they are typed. The drive enters the passwords automatically, and prompts the Website entry to avoid any keystrokes being monitored. The newest versions also include a virtual keyboard where even your IronKey password may be entered through mouse clicks to avoid the theft of your password for very high-risk environments.
Run an IP address search on your IronKey secure Web session and you’re likely to come back as a Web surfer in Denmark, Illinois, or one of the other secure proxy servers that IronKey employs. While it might be a violation of some company policies, (always be aware of the risks of bypassing security protocols) most servers that block access to personal e-mail services and social networking sites won’t even see the activities streamed through the secure Mozilla browser contained within the drive. The Web browsing activities, history, cookies, etc. are all kept securely within the drive and can only be accessed after a successful login.
The drives are available with 1 GB to 32 GB capacities, and have two drive speeds with S-drives being the fastest while the D-drives are a little slower but they’re also less expensive. There are three versions of the drive (personal, enterprise, basic) with differences in administrative rights and security management; but most private users would likely opt for the “personal” model.
IronKey drives are also approved by the DOD for the new thumb drive use policies.
These aren’t cheap tools when compared to the myriad of discount storage available, but if the data being transferred is valuable the security measures used to protect it should probably be given a comparable measure of consideration.
As with most technologically advanced tools, there are many more tools included than can be covered in a short discussion, but most of the bells and whistles are covered on the IronKey Website for any level of user to dissect.
I’ve made it a habit to use an IronKey for all but the most benign Web traffic I’m creating, and if used properly the security features act much like the defensive tools used in everyday activities, in that it might not guarantee that you won’t be compromised, but it will guarantee that the predators are going to have to work pretty hard to get at your data and are more likely to opt for the easy targets that broadcast their vulnerability.
Editor’s Note: MIKE25 is a game warden with a journalism background, who tries to stay current with the technology and tools that help with “the tactical side of life.” Please join us in welcoming him as a guest writer on ITS Tactical.
- IronKey Website https://www.ironkey.com/
- IronKey Forum https://forum.ironkey.com/
- IronKey personal demo https://www.ironkey.com/demo-personal
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