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Why Does the Military Rely On Kingston IronKey?

Keeping Data Secure, Whether on the Front Line or Behind the Scenes

In the world of information security and systems for military and defense operations, the need to protect sensitive and mission-critical information has never been more important, given today’s growing cyber threats.

Understanding the unique ways that information systems operate, and their need to have data storage assets enabled with attack-protection features is an essential requirement. These security measures must also complement their existing security infrastructure to ensure the highest levels of protection both inside and outside the firewall.

This, in combination with differing usage circumstances (whether environmental or regarding connectivity), highlights the need for solutions that are uncompromising when it comes to speed, security, and resilience.


A key European military organization is seeking to empower its operations with highly secure portable storage devices. The only acceptable solution is to select a product with the highest levels of encryption available today.

However, this protection should not come at the expense of speed and usability. Given the often grueling conditions of active military service, sufficient durability to withstand harsh environments is also essential. With these criteria met, secure data transfer and storage can be conducted, wherever service members may be.

Considering the strict security protocols required to protect the data of such a high-profile customer, the organization in question needed a technology partner that truly understands this highly sensitive industry. A partner who can offer solutions that not only meet but exceed their core requirements, supporting them with a thorough testing and verification process, for extra peace of mind.


A locked folder illustration behind an IronKey S1000 USB drive

Working closely with our Ask an Expert team, Kingston recommended a solution that offered the highest level of military-grade security combined with robust, sturdy construction. This recommendation also ensured that we were able to offer devices with our highest read/write speeds ensuring fast data transfer, whether used on the front line or behind the scenes.

Our Kingston IronKey S1000 hardware-encrypted USB drive was selected, given its uncompromising and best-in-class levels of security, speed, and ruggedness, offering the organization a solution befitting its mission-critical functions and operations. The dustproof aluminum casing of the S1000, waterproof to three feet, can handle the myriad rigors of life on the road – or off-road, as the case might be.

The S1000 safeguards 100 percent of confidential data with its 256-bit AES hardware-based encryption in XTS mode, and FIPS 140-2 Level 3 validation with on-device Cryptochip Encryption Key management. This is the highest level of security that is practical for a USB drive. These advanced protection features that come with the S1000 were quickly identified as the perfect solution for the organization's data security needs.

The drive also detects and responds to physical tampering. The drive is filled with a hard epoxy inside the casing, gluing all the electronics to the casing. This special epoxy is designed to be nearly impossible to remove without damaging internal components such as flash memory chips. This provides anti-tampering attack protection as required by FIPS 140-2 Level 3.

In addition, the S1000 incorporates a special Cryptochip to store critical parameters and keys used by the encryption controller. This unique architecture further enhances security. In the unlikely event that this Cryptochip was miraculously removed from the drive without damage from the epoxy, it has further defenses against multiple forms of attack. For example, the Cryptochip is encapsulated with an electronic mesh to prevent it from being sliced open to expose its die to probing; if the mesh is damaged in any way, the Cryptochip self-destructs.

The S1000 also provides automatic data protection upon drive removal. Furthermore, the encrypted USB uses digitally signed firmware making it immune to threats, such as BadUSB. The drive can also be set to erase its contents after a chosen number of failed access attempts, an effective defence against brute force attacks if the drive is lost or stolen. It can even be set to “self-destruct” so that a drive subject to brute force password attack will become non-functional and “brick.” The S1000 USB drives are unique in that they will become completely non-functional as a defence when subjected to brute force attacks.

All these class-leading security features are underpinned by the S1000’s robust anodized aluminum casing, conforming to MIL-STD-810F standards. This is in addition to its capacity to transfer data up to 230MB/s read, 240MB/s write*, which is due to its internal architecture using a microSSD for its flash storage.

Not only did this recommendation ensure the safe and secure storage of data for the operations of a key European military organization’s functions, but its members are now also able to rely on a device that is fast, tough, and reliable whatever they face, and no matter the environment.

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