Kingston Technology is well known for their fast RAM and SSDs – I use their Fury Rengade 1tb NVME SSD – but that’s not where their specialty ends. I met them at CES where they showed me their latest memory products. They also make a few niche storage products, today we’ll be looking at a unique USB flash drive from Kingston with a feature that 007 would approve of – it self-destructs if the wrong passkey is entered too many times in a row.
The initial setup of the product is fairly simple, and was outlined on the back of the package. Press the key button once, it will flash. Press the key button twice, then enter a 8-15 digit pin. To confirm the pin, press the key button twice again – enter the desired pin once more – and then enter the final confirmation by pressing the key button twice.
There are a number of different settings one can enable : read-only mode, manual disable read/write, and set the drive to timeout (requiring you to re-enter the pin) after a set period of time. In addition to the pin necessary to access the drive via USB, one can also set a pin for changing the settings of the device.
USB 3.2 Gen 1
8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB (32gb model tested for review)
USB 3.2 Gen 1 8GB – 128GB: 145MB/s read, 115MB/s write USB 2.0 8GB: 30MB/s read, 12MB/s write 16GB – 128GB: 30MB/s read, 20MB/s write
Dimensions (drive with sleeve)
80mm x 20mm x 10.5mm
Dimensions (drive without sleeve)
78mm x 18mm x 8mm
Certified to IP57 rating
0°C to 50°C
-20°C to 60°C
USB 3.0/USB 3.1/USB 3.2 Gen 1
Minimum System Requirements
USB 3.0 compliant and 2.0 compatible
3-year warranty, free technical support
OS-independent: Microsoft Windows®, macOS®, Linux®, Chrome OS™, Android ™4 or any system that supports a USB mass storage device.
Brute Force Hacking Detection – aka Self-Destruct Mode
After you have entered a PIN on the device, the data is protected by an OS-independent XTS-AES 256-bit hardware encryption key. Kingston mentions that the device is pending certifiication for FIPS 140-3 Level 3 military-grade security.
The Keypad 200 has a self-destruct mode that is engaged after 10 consecutive entries of incorrect pins. If you only have one pin setup then the KP200’s brute force mechanism will trigger. The device then deletes it’s encryption key, causing all data on the drive to be lost.
Furthermore, Kingston advertises that the drive’s circuitry is covered by a layer of special epoxy that makes it virtually impossible to remove individual components without damaging them; this tough epoxy is designed to stop even the most expert of data recovery experts. This epoxy doesn’t just serve to make it impossible to remove the components – the device is IP57 waterproof certified!
If you have both a user PIN and an admin pin setup, you can enter admin mode and enter the admin pin to restore access to the data. However, the user pin is entered incorrectly 10 times and then the admin pin is entered incorrectly ten times – the self-destruct will engage again, and all data on the device will be lost.
I tested the feature out myself a few times, it seemed to work as advertised. Entering the pin too many times in a row caused the drive to self-destruct. However, I’m not a security expert and I don’t have any experience attempting to recover lost data.
Synthetic Benchmarks – Crystal Diskmark
This drive isn’t intended to be a speed demon – it’s intended for secure storage of documents, images, and perhaps a few videos. However, to be thorough we ran a few tests. First was Crystal Diskmark, which it’s default test is more of a synthetic “best case” scenario workload.
Real life scenario – bulk file transfer
To test more of a “real life” scenario I filled the disk with multiple files approximately 1gb in size, +- 50mb, and timed the transfer. For this review, Kingston sent the 32gb model of the Keypad 200.
For the first few minutes, data transfer speeds matched the synthetic results shown by CrystalDiskMark. Afterwards, the upload plateaued to a varying 27-34mb/sec. Many consumer SSDs show similar behavior after exhausting their cache. In theory, the 64gb and 128gb versions of Kingston’s Keypad 200 should last longer before before slowing down.
The total file transfer time was 11 minutes and 18 seconds
I ran a variety of torture tests to ensure the durability and good design of the device. These tests have killed many low quality devices in previous testing. I’m pleased to report that the Kingston USB drive passed these tests and had no problems whatsoever while testing.
The Kingston Ironkey Keypad 200 is an interesting device that provides a level of security for secure files that 007 would approve of. It also survived every torture test I put it through. However, I might recommend that if you use such a drive for secure file storage – buy two or more instead of a single unit. If you’re going to have secure files, you wouldn’t want to lose them by mistakenly misplacing a drive or some other mishap.
The price for the Keypad 200 ranges from $74.99 for a 8GB unit up to $209.99 for the 128gb model at Kingston’s website. If you order directly from Kingston, you can get 10% off your first purchase by signing up for their email newsletter.
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