Imation's Defender F200 biometric flash drive

Earlier this month, of USB flash drives aimed at the consumer portable storage and data backup market.

The drives have a range of features, including hardware-based 256-bit AES data encryption, and have (or are in the process of receiving) varying levels of FIPS () 140-2 Level 3 validation.

The drives vary in form factor and size, including two flash drives, two hard drives and an optical line of disc drives. I thought the most useful one to review would the Defender F200, a biometric flash drive with all the bells and whistles, including a waterproof casing, a built-in fingerprint scanner and the ability to create multiple disk partitions.

The Defender is awaiting Level 3 FIPS validation, second only to Level 4 for overall security. To achieve FIPS Level 3, a device must have some form of physical tamper resistance, password authentication, and a physical or logical separation between the interfaces by which "critical security parameters" enter and leave a device and its other interfaces.

But all that security doesn't come cheap. The drive comes in capacities ranging from 1GB to 32GB and has a suggested retail price of $99 to $349, depending on its capacity. I find $99 for a 1GB flash drive outrageous, but if you need a device with the highest level of security, it may be worth it to you.

The Defender F200 drive is a bit beefier in size compared with a typical USB drive, but that's to make room for an ergonomically designed biometric finger scanner. The drive comes in a metal, "tamper-resistant" enclosure, which basically means there are no screws showing. However, you could easily slip a flat-head screwdriver between the joint where the upper and lower casing meet and force it open.