REVIEW: Mobiu Smart Key offers secure, remote data access on the move
By Paul Lester
October 22, 2009
USB keys are a boon to those who need to carry data around with them, and with capacities always on the rise it’s becoming more and more likely that sensitive data will be stored on what is, at the end of the day, an inherently losable little gadget. Various security measures are now available that bring more to the table than standard encryption, but it’s not often we see something as all-encompassing as Mobiu’s Smart Key. We took the 1GB version of the secure Flash drive for a spin to see what it has to offer.
Mobiu’s unique form of protectionThe Mobiu looks and feels like a typically sized USB stick, though one key difference is the presence of a SIM card to allow it to offer two-factor authentication using chip and PIN, much like a credit card. It’s not ruggedized, which is a little disappointing considering the focus, but as it turns out this isn’t nearly as much of a problem as you might think.
The security on offer from Mobiu is not so much about files stored on the USB key itself, though of course there is space available to do this, but in the secure online storage it offers you. A range of capacities are available at different prices and 1GB is supplied by default.
Setting up the MobiuOnce plugged in to a PC for the first time, you’re asked to register an account and enter a four-digit PIN code, which will be used alongside the SIM card in the device itself to grant you access to your "Mobiu Desktop" from which you can manage and transfer files. Data can be uploaded or synchronized from the current PC through MobiVaults, with multiple available for different machines. When you want to edit or run one of these files it is temporarily downloaded to the USB key and re-uploaded when closed if any changes are made.
There’s support here for multiple-version backups and though the process will inevitably incur a short delay, largely dependent on Internet speed, it’s a tidy way to make sure no traces of the file can be recovered from a host machine.
In addition to this, the Mobiu Desktop includes its own word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, web browser, archiver and PDF viewer – just about everything you need in order to securely access and modify data. These are extremely capable for the most part and should have no trouble handling some of the more advanced functionality that some other alternatives struggle with, plus they are of course compatible with Microsoft’s popular suite.