Review: iStorage diskAshur Pro

The iStorage diskAshur Pro is a hard drive for users with security on their mind. This USB 3.0 device comes in various storage capacities, ranging from 500GB to 2TB, and is certified and tested to NIST FIPS 140-2 Level 2 requirements. For accessing the data you’ll need to go through a PIN input process and the stored files are secured with 256-bit XTS-AES encryption.

iStorage diskAshur Pro

I’ve been using the drive for a couple of weeks now and it works flawlessly. I won’t go into details with the transfer rates, as I want to focus more on the security aspects, but even with the real time data encryption, it works really fast.

Security policy

diskAshur PRO enforces an excellent PIN policy. The PIN must be at least 7 digits long, and the maximum option is 16 digits. It cannot consist of all consecutive numbers (i.e. 1234567) or just one digit repeated (e.g. 55555555). There is a also a “Shift” button on the keyboard that you can use to make combinations like Shift+number (e.g. Shift+1), and such a combination is a valid alternative to a single digit.

The disk offers protection against brute force attacks. After five incorrect PIN inputs, the device needs to be unplugged from and plugged into the computer again in order to allow for more tries. Five more incorrect inputs after that, and the attacker (or you, if you forgot the PIN) needs to repeat the aforementioned process, but this time a red light will start to flash. If this happens, check the manual to see how to enable ten more attempts to input the correct PIN. After a total of 20 wrong attempts, the disk will have to be reset and reformatted in order to be used again. Naturally, the data that was on it will be gone.

Finally, the disk comes with a self-destruction option. If, for whatever reason, you need to destroy the data on the disk quickly, you can enter a self-destruct PIN (that you’ve set up previously), and all the data on the disk, as well as admin and user PIN will be wiped.

Documentation

diskAshur PRO comes with a sheet specifying the initial usage details. For more information, you can download the 21 page product manual from the product homepage. The PDF contains detailed step-by-step guides related to all aspects of product setup and usage. A FAQ section on the web site extends the manual and contains some interesting Q&A entries related to specific elements of diskAshur PRO usage.

Final thoughts

diskAshur PRO is the easiest way to set up a secure hard drive backup of your data. You can use it on any OS, you just need to format the drive to the appropriate file system. Not requiring any crypto software makes it even more dependable and your data will always be just a PIN away.