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USB Copy Protection and USB Encryption – There Is a Difference

USB copy protection and USB encryption are two terms which many users mix up and consider to be the same technology. However, USB copy protection and USB encryption are two totally different technologies.

To summarize, USB copy protection is a technology which protects the content on a flash drive so the files cannot be copied or replicated.

USB encryption is a technology which scrambles content on a flash drive into an unreadable format so the data cannot be read – this is called encryption.

At first glance, the two technologies appear to be the same. USB copy protection and USB encryption both protect your content. Both technologies prevent users from copying your data and both technologies require some sort of decryption, but this is where the similarities end TopTechShifts.

Lets take a closer look at USB encryption. USB encryption is a technology where content on a flash drive is scrambled into an unreadable format. This is the process of encrypting. Once the files on a USB stick are encrypted, they can only be read by providing a password, or key, to decrypt the files. With the correct key, the files are decrypted and presented in a readable format.

It is important to note; once the content is decrypted and the files are readable, there is no restriction for the user to copy the files and give to others.

The value with USB encryption is protecting the content in the event the USB flash drive is lost or stolen. The content is safe because “the finder” [or “thief”] does not have the password and thus cannot access the content.

Now lets take a look at USB copy protection. USB copy protection also uses encryption technology; however, the encryption technology is tied to one’s ability to copy the files, not view the files. With USB copy protection the files are always viewable by the user, but what is protected is the ability to copy the files off the flash drive.

This feat is accomplished by a two step process which works together to form the protection. The first element is the USB flash drive. The second element is the file with [specific] encryption. The encryption in the file works with the decryption engine on the flash drive. The flash drive is required to see the encryption of the file, if everything matches, the USB will pass the information out to the computer and is viewable by the user.

In the event the file is copied to the computer and the flash drive is removed from the system, the two step process fails and the files are no longer readable by the user. Thus your content has been copy protected.

You could also think of the USB flash drive as a physical security dongle for the files to work. So it turns out the term USB copy protection is quit literal – it means exactly that.

USB copy protection is a great technology where IP owners need to share their content without the risk of users stealing their Intellectual Property. A good example of this includes e-publishers who publish valuable articles, reports, documents, programs or utilities who need users to access the content, but cannot let them share the content.

Some have said that USB encryption only keeps the honest people honest. This is true, because once a user has the password, they can do whatever they want with the content. USB copy protection solves this problem because regardless of the users intention, the content cannot be shared with others.

Some additional information to consider about the difference between USB encryption and USB copy protection:

With USB encryption it is possible to format the device and wipe everything off the drive. From a security standpoint, it’s better to have a reformatted disk then giving access to sensitive data.

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