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Summary

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8/10

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There was a time when a portable external hard drive was an expensive luxury, but over the past couple of years these devices have become somewhat commodity items. The ability to carry hundreds of gigabytes of data around with you in a small, pocket-size device is compelling, but it also brings with it a potential issue - data security. Let's face it, if you've got a portable hard disk stuffed with sensitive data, the worry of losing it, or having it stolen is very real, and potentially scary.

Lenovo is a company that has always taken data security seriously, which is why its ThinkPads have been the notebooks of choice for the corporate market for a very long time. ThinkPad notebooks have included features like biometric security and encrypted hard drive data for quite a while now, since for many, the data on a notebook is far more valuable than the hardware itself. Now Lenovo has turned its security conscious attention to portable hard drives, for those who wish to carry important data with them, but don't want that data falling into the wrong hands.

The ThinkPad USB Secure Hard Drive (SHD) is, as its name suggests, a secure hard drive that connects to your computer via USB. This drive isn't much larger or heavier than most other portable USB hard drives, but you can instantly tell that it's a little special. Set into the front of the ThinkPad SHD is a numeric keypad, which is the key (no pun intended) to its security credentials. Basically, this external hard disk can be secured with a numeric code - the code must have a minimum of six digits and a maximum of 16 - Lenovo's website claims a 24 digit maximum but the manual states 16, and I couldn't get the device to accept a pass code with more than 16 digits.

Of course having a code to access the drive is only half of the equation, since if you wanted to steal the data, the obvious solution would be to just crack the casing open and access the hard disk directly. This scenario hasn't escaped Lenovo, and not only is the data on the drive password protected, it's also encrypted. The ThinkPad SHD uses 128-bit AES encryption, so it should be more than adequate for most situations, unless you happen to work for MI6, and then you'll keep your data unencrypted on your notebook and probably leave it on a train.

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