USB Copy Protection vs. USB Encryption

There are some fundamental differences between USB copy protection and USB encryption to files on a flash drive.  I have seen many companies confuse and muddy the terminology between the two.  It’s time to clear things up and explain the difference. In short; USB copy protection secures a file or set of files so they cannot be copied – thus copy protection.  USB encryption scrambles the source files so they cannot be read unless you decrypt them.  Take a moment and think about this…there is a BIG difference.

USB encryption

Encryption is the process of scrambling files and data so they cannot be accessed unless a password or key is supplied to reassemble the content and put everything back together.  This process is known as decryption. The fundamental use for USB encryption is to protect files and data in the event the USB stick is lost or stolen. Where encryption and USB copy protection differ is with “encryption” once you have the password you can copy the data at will.  With USB copy protection the files and data are locked to the device and cannot be copied off, regardless of the users desire.

USB copy protection

USB copy protection is similar to encryption with the use of scrambling data and unscrambling data; however, USB copy protection has the added value of not allowing copies to be made.  Copy protection wraps the data into a specialized algorithm to scramble the data, then uses a customized viewer to decrypt the data and be viewed.  The viewer also requires specific hardware components to run, this requirement blocks the ability of the file to be copied and played later. As one can see, USB copy protection is used by those who need to protect their intellectual property regardless of the user, whereas USB encryption is used for those who need to protect their data if lost or stolen. As a side note – a USB stick with encryption can be formatted, thus removing all of the sensitive data yet USB copy protection locks the content to the stick in a Read Only partition so deleting or formatting are of no avail. If you need USB Encryption – I would suggest TrueCrypt.  This is a free, open-source solution for those needing a high level encryption tool. If you need USB copy protection and have content which should not be copied, regardless of the user, then visit Nexcopy for their USB secure flash drive solutions.  *They also use 128-bit AES encryption tools.

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Rich Gates

Administator for started in 2004 with the concept of providing USB information for everything USB related. At the time, USB was gaining momentum and every day new products, articles and news became published. Today, the site is focused on bringing technical information, tricks and hacks to USB related products. The site does publish off topic information as well, to keep the variety up. Please visit the footer area of any page if you or your company is interested in article or product placement via purchased advertising.

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