ExactTrak Security Guardian review
Packed with geolocation technology, this secure USB stick even has a self-destruct mechanism
Review Date: 12 Jul 2012
Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell
Price when reviewed: 16GB USB with 1yr contract, £295 (£354 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
USB sticks are the scourge of data security, since they can store so much sensitive information and yet are so easily lost. ExactTrak offers a unique solution to this serious problem: its Security Guardian USB device uses GPS and GSM to tell you where it is.
It can do this thanks to an internal Orange SIM card. Accessible via a smartphone or ExactTrak’s cloud management portal, its memory can be remotely turned on or off at will, and where the data is highly sensitive it can also be set to self-destruct.
You won’t see any dramatic Mission: Impossible smoke and flames; the stick uses its internal battery to send a high-voltage charge into the memory chip. This effectively fries its contents, destroying any data and rendering it unusable.
The Security Guardian is much larger than your average USB stick, but this is no surprise since it packs in a lot of hardware. Currently available in capacities from 4GB to 32GB, ExactTrak is also trialling a 64GB version.
You pay an annual fee for the Security Guardian service (£199 after the first year), which provides access to a remote management cloud portal. Each stick has a unique identifier, so you can manage and track them all from one console.
For GPS tracking, the device downloads ephemeris data to give it exact satellite positions, from which it can compute its location. For GSM tracking it uses a database of mast identifiers and their locations. It attempts to use GPS first, then falls back to GSM if it can’t find enough satellites. If it’s unable to pick up enough GSM masts, it uses the nearest master cell broadcast mast to provides a rough location.
The portal map shows the computed locations of each Security Guardian device. You can select date ranges to track their movement, replay data back from selected ranges and, where there’s sufficient data, see how fast a stick was travelling.
Enabling and disabling the memory is a one-click manoeuvre from the portal, or you can send a custom SMS command from an authorised mobile. We found the stick responded to our SMS commands within ten seconds.
The device has only a small antenna, but we found tracking to be very accurate. It had us down to within 100m at our lab in Sussex, and when we took the device home to Brighton, it pinpointed us to within 3m.
On battery it transmits only once an hour, but at one point it logged us travelling along the A27 at 55mph. We also couriered the device up to London and monitored its progress to the PC Pro office, where it was located precisely the following day.
Geozones define areas on the globe where devices may be used, and are created from the portal using custom radial areas or polygons. When a device enters or leaves a memory control geozone, it’s automatically enabled or disabled. You can also be notified by email and SMS when it leaves a departure geozone or enters an arrival geozone.
Security Guardian was originally aimed at larger businesses, but ExactTrak is now seeing significant demand from single users and SMBs. This is no surprise: although it isn’t exactly cheap, it’s a very clever little security device, and one that has made storing critical data on a USB stick a whole lot safer.
Author: Dave Mitchell
no smoke and flames? deal breaker ;)
By mr_chips on 12 Jul 2012
Surely smoke and flames are required features if it has genuinely been stolen.
I wouldn't mind setting alight some chav tealeaf.
By Heliosphan on 12 Jul 2012
- Microsoft yanks Windows 8.1 update after crash reports
- Microsoft backtracks on blocking out-of-date Java
- Gartner: time to start planning your Windows 7 upgrade
- Still on IE8? You've got 18 months to upgrade
- Who's buying Chromebooks? American schools
- Microsoft targets Windows in next Patch Tuesday
- Microsoft to block old ActiveX controls in security push
- Samsung and Apple call off all legal disputes, except in the US
- Microsoft ordered to hand over European data
- Will the next Windows 8.1 update arrive next month?
- How to turn off Google Location Tracking
- 20 years of PC Pro: our greatest review mistakes
- 20 years of PC Pro: our first A-List
- Wikipedia's "right to be forgotten" protest hits the wrong note
- 3D printing hits the high street for plastic selfies
- 20 years of PC Pro: What amazed us in our first issue
- How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour
- Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?
- Windows Easy Transfer – not so "easy" in Windows 8.1
- Formula 1: what a difference virtualisation makes
- How to set up a wireless hotspot for your business: give customers free or paid for internet access
- Five worst SMB security threats... and how to solve them
- Doing business in a social era
- How to configure SysLookup for your network
- The 18 best Outlook tips for increasing productivity: become an Outlook expert with these lesser-known tips
- Office: should you buy it, rent it - or dump it?
- Small server vs cloud: which is best for SMBs?
- The best mobile apps for business
- Windows XP: Microsoft’s ticking time bomb
- gTLDs: what your business should know about new domain names
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office
- How to write your company's IT security policy