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Security is a concern for everyone, we all worry about hacking attempts, phishing, fraud and scams, but businesses have got more to worry about concerning data theft and loss. USB drives are a great way to transfer data to and from places, but they’re not exactly secure, and being so small they’re easily lost. Many USB drives now come with encryption on them to protect any data that employees might need to have on them for work related things, especially in this day and age when more and more people take their work home with them. Companies don’t want their sensitive data floating around unprotected, so there are a few choices when it comes to managing sensitive data on USB drives.

Sandisk has sent me over their Sandisk Cruzer Enterprise 2gb USB drive for review, it features hardware based 256bit AES encryption, mandatory access control, Lockdown mode, it’s centrally manageable through Sandisk CMC software and it’s the first encrypted drive to be compatible with Apple Mac OS X Computers.

So read on to learn more about how the Cruzer works, how it performs and compares to other USB drives out there today…



The Sandisk Cruzer Enterprise comes in a small box, inside we find a plastic container housing the Cruzer along with a brief user manual.

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The Cruzer Enterprise seems fairly well made, it has a rubbery like coating on it, but it’s not rubber it’s plastic. There’s a blue LED on the bottom along with a clip as well for a lanyard or keychain. The cap is removable, and seems to stay on well, but it doesn’t feel very secure, it slides on and off easily. The cap also has a clip on it so you can clip to your pocket or wherever.

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Specifications:
Sandisk Cruzer Enterprise

Cruzer Enterprise with USB encryption for enterprises helps IT professionals more effectively protect information on company-issued USB flash drives. It is specifically designed to meet the unique USB security, compliance and manageability needs of enterprises. Rather than rely upon users to secure files, it imposes mandatory access control on all files, storing them in a hardware-encrypted, password-protected partition. This secures all stored data in the event of drive loss or theft. Cruzer Enterprise features ultra-fast transfer speeds and a simple user interface, all in a plug-and-play USB security product.

Cruzer Enterprise is the first secure USB flash drive to fully support Apple Mac OS X computers and can be initialized from either a Macintosh or a Windows computer. By supporting both Macintosh and Microsoft Windows environments, IT professionals can more effectively use SanDisk Cruzer Enterprise to protect information on company-issued secure USB flash drives across their organizations.

CMC (Central Management and Control) server software adds a higher level of control to Cruzer Enterprise. It centrally manages the drive’s complete lifecycle, from initial user-deployment, through password administration and data backup, and finally to drive termination if lost or stolen.

Cruzer Enterprise –USB Security at Multiple Tiers – Specifications:
* Hardware based 256-bit AES encryption
* Mandatory access control for all files (100% private partition)
* Strong password
* “Lockdown” mode when a set number of incorrect password attempts are made
* Centrally Manageable (Using SanDisk CMC software sold separately)
* Ultra fast transfer speed – 24MB/s Read, 20MB/s write.
*Full support for Apple Mac OS X computers
* Available in 1, 2, 4 and 8GB  configurations


Here’s a comparison picture to give you an idea of size of the Sandisk Cruzer Enterprise:

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When you first plug the Cruzer into your computer you’re greeted with screens to set up your drive and personalize it. The first two screens are to set up language and a user agreement:

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Then you’ll have to create your password, but you have got to create a secure one or you’ll get an error and won’t be able to continue. The password must contain, upper case and lower case letters along with numbers and special characters, this combination will make it very hard for someone to hack the drive. If someone does try and hack the drive, after a set number of incorrect attempts the Cruzer will enter Lockdown mode. I couldn’t find a specific number of attempts in the documentation, only that "the number is defined during the manufacturing process", what exactly that means I’m not sure.

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After you create the password then you go on to enter you personal details, Name Company and any other contact information you’d like to add.

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When you’re ready to use the drive, just insert it into any free USB port, if autorun is not enabled you’ll need to run the main program to start using it. If you look at ‘My Computer’ when the Cruzer is inserted, before you launch the program, you’ll see two drives listed. on my computer it’s ‘I’ and ‘O’ for the Cruzer, if you try and access the ‘I’ drive before unlocking it you’ll get an error.

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Once you run the program and enter the correct password the drives changes to ‘Enterprise’ and is accessible now.

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When the program is running a small Cruzer icon is placed in your taskbar, you can click on it for a menu to pop up with a few options. The Settings options is just to change password, contact information and language, the same from the very beginning, the other options are self-explanatory.

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Besides the encryption measures and strong password, Sandisk offers an additional layer of security for companies through the use of their CMC or Central Management and Control software.  You can learn more about the software HERE but here’s a brief list of features and description of the CMC software:

Enterprise data management software, CMC (Central Management and Control) is an innovative software solution that allows corporate IT departments to centrally manage company-issued Cruzer Enterprise secure flash drives both inside and outside the corporate environment.

Centralized deployment and provisioning
• Self-service provisioning to simplify large
deployments
• Integration with Active Directory to create device-
user association
• Centralized updates and configuration of all device
parameters
• Remote password administration
Enhanced device functionality
• Remote disable of lost drives
• Restricted operating environment prevents devices
from being used with unauthorized PCs
Auditing and asset management
• Full audit trail of files copied, modified or deleted
both on and off the network
• Complete monitoring and reporting of device
usage
Business continuity with seamless device backup
• Restore or recreate lost and stolen drives

So you  can see that through the use of  the combination of the Cruzer and CMC software, companies can have  total control over these USB drives for a much more secure environment.

Now we know the Cruzer is a secure drive but how does it perform? Let’s find out..

First up is SiSoft Sandra 2009 Removable Storage Test.

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As you can see it’s pretty fast, almost as fast as the OCZ Rally2 Turbo, and a little bit faster than the Lexar Vault secure USB drive.

Here’s a closer look at the SiSoft Sandra test:

sandra files 

Next up we’ve got testing using Diskbench, this gives us a ‘real world’ idea of the performance of the drives in actual time, lower times are better obviously. A 350MB .AVI video file was used for the testing.

diskbench times

Not bad in terms of times, a little slower than the others but just a few seconds.

Here’s the actual transfer rates for the times, higher is better of course:

diskbench xfer rates

On a side note, I’m a PC only guy, so I don’t have an Apple Computer to test on, but if the scores here are any indication, it should perform equally well on one of them as well.


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Conclusion:
The Sandisk Cruzer Enterprise USB drive is a great choice for those who wish to secure their data when taking it places, it’s fairly fast, well made and it’s got some other great features as well.

For companies that wish an extra level of protection for their data, they can pair the Cruzer with Sandisks CMC software to have full control over these drives, and know exactly what’s going on with them. 

Pros:
Fairly fast in comparison
Secure
Easy to use

Cons:
For full security you’ve got to purchase CMC software
Cap could be easily lost

Grades:  
Overall score-9-10
Design score-9-10
Performance score-9-10