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Da Vinci Code inspires secure USB drive

Puts flash drive inside sophisticated cylinder lock

Article comments

Taking inspiration from Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, a US startup has fused a USB flash drive with a ‘Cryptex’ device, a metal cylinder that can only be opened by setting the correct combination on a rotating barrel.

The latest Crypteks (notice the different spelling) is not the first device of its kind – designs have been circulating on the Internet since the Da Vinci code resurrected what is probably an older idea – but it does look like the most interesting to date.

The external 8cm barrel comprises five aluminium alloy rotating rings on which each has printed the 26 letters of the English alphabet. Removing the USB flash drive from within the cylinder involves entering the correct combination of which there are 14,348,907 possible combinations thanks to the decision to adopt letters on each ring rather than numbers.

The USB drive contained within the barrel uses 256-bit AES encryption, adding another layer of security to the physical design, with a customisable auto-format option for incorrectly-entered passwords.

If you like the Crypteks is really a sophisticated version of the common barrel combination lock which happens to contain a secure USB drive.

Some might see it as over-engineered. Secure USB keys employing AES encryption can nowadays be bought fairly cheaply and offer good levels of security for the money. The barrel device added by the Crypteks doesn’t appear to offer much added security for what is a considerable price premium. It is not clear whether the concealed USB drive is also tamper proof.

The Michigan-based designers claim they have enough money via the online Kickstarter incubator to start manufacturing the drives “in time for the holidays.”

The development model requires seed backers to pledge money in return for drives. Capacities will be 4GB, 8GB, 16GB. The price has yet to be announced by works out at around $150 for the 16GB drive for every sponsor backing the project.


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Martin Omme said: Poor Research theres 26 letters plus a symbol on each ring

Tomridgers said: 26 to the power of 5 11881376 so there are closer to 12 million combinations poor maths skills Your number is 27 to the power 5 there are only 26 letters in the english alphabet

Dore Lejeurne said: Is there a code in case you forget

Rufus Pearce said: This is NOT foolproof Any protection can be circumvented or brute-forced In this particular case Magnetic Resonance Imaging or Thermite powder are both viable solutions

Drlongstaff said: With 256-bit AES encryption why do you need a cryptex type device If someone wanted in the cryptex type device they would just break it open There have been usb drives with encryption around for a while now at much cheaper prices

Internet Marketing Company said: This is a DaVinci Code inspired usb drive created by Cryptek this drive is made of a solid cylinder-aluminium alloy To access the station you must know your 5 digit code that you can then connect the drive to a USB port There are 14 348 0907 possible combinations so it is pretty safe After you pass the 5-digit code must close the drive in to the password that you also know secondary 256-bit AES hardware encrypted

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