Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3.0 Review – Data Protection For Every Security Need


 If you are like I, you work in an environment where you may be provided an encrypted laptop in which you have no administrative permissions.  My work laptop requires a hardware encryption password followed by a secure OS password and recognition of the inserted security card.  If you want to utilize all but very few secure USB flash drives, an appointment is necessary to get an administrator to allow the installation of that drives security software onto your system.  You are then restricted to that drive alone and you cannot plug-in say, a Samsung Portable 1TB T1, SanDisk Extreme Pro USB 3.0, or any other flash drive that uses a software program for that devices main security portal.


The reality of this circumstance is that far too many people leave highly sensitive materials on unprotected USB flash drives, chancing that they will never be lost or compromised in any way.  Loss and compromise of unprotected flash drives have cost millions worldwide and been responsible for levels of compromise that have no doubt cost lives as well as money.  Apricorn tackles this with the Aegis Secure Key 3.0.  Their secure flash drive uses on-the fly 256-Bit AES XTS hardware encryption, all the while ensuring the drive is software free preventing potential malware or virus attack.



The Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3.0 is available in capacities of 8, 16, 30, 60, 120, 240 and 480GB, the 480GB capacity being tested in this report.  Apricorn will not speak to internal components but data transfer speeds are listed at up to 190MB/s read and 160MB/s write.  The device is constructed of a rugged aluminum with ‘ribs’ along the sides and back of the key to provide for heat dissipation as the drive warms up when in constant use.  On its face, there are a red, green and blue LED lights at the top, a 10 button keypad to create and use PIN features, along with red and green lock and unlock buttons below this.  The Secure Key 3.0 comes with a 3 year warranty and is PC, Mac, Linux, Android compatible.  As the device is unlocked and open before plugging into a system, it is totally compatible with any USB included system.

The Apricorn Aegis Secure key 3.0 provides total hardware security, is FIPS 140-2 Level 3 validated, has full-disk 256-Bit AES XTS encryption and contains no software to achieve its data security. In addition, it is dust and water-resistant to level IP58 Certification, and immune to BADUSB exploit.  The internal components are protected with a solid epoxy filling which prevents compromise from external attempts to gain access to the drive components.  Last but not least, the Aegis Secure Key 3.0 has Variable Timed Circuit (VTC) technology to thwart internet timing attacks and also contains a self-destruct feature where the number of bad attempts to gain access can be set.



The drive has forced enrollment in first use and creating your admin password is as easy as pressing unlock, unlock + ‘9’, entering your password from 7 to 16 numbers, re-entering and then pressing the green unlock button once again to confirm.  This now provides full access to storage or further security enhancements such as creating further user passwords for device access.  For just myself, the admin password does the trick.  The Admin mode provides the ability to control Read-Only mode, Auto-Lock, Self-Destruct, Lock-Override and Brute Force protection.


Looking at Amazon, we see the Apricorn Aegis Secure key 3.0 ranges anywhere from 59.99 for the 4GB version, to $376 for the 480GB version we are testing today.  This means that the price per GB ranges from $15/GB at the low-end to 0.78/GB at the high-capacity point.  As much as we’d like to see the lower capacity models come down in price, we can’t complain whatsoever with respect to the 480GB capacity pricing for such a security-directed device. Now for a bit of testing…


ATTO Disk Benchmark is perhaps one of the oldest benchmarks going and is definitely the main staple for manufacturer performance specifications. ATTO uses RAW or compressible data and, for our benchmarks, we use a set length of 256mb and test both the read and write performance of various transfer sizes ranging from 0.5 to 8192kb. Manufacturers prefer this method of testing as it deals with raw (compressible) data rather than random (includes incompressible data) which, although more realistic, results in lower performance results.


Our initial ATTO benchmark results of 202MB/s read and 151MB/s write are excellent, considering that the Aegis Secure Key 3.0 uses on-the-fly encryption to ensure completely secure data storage.


Crystal Disk Benchmark is used to measure read and write performance through sampling of random data which is, for the most part, incompressible. Performance is virtually identical, regardless of data sample so we have included only that using random data samples.



The toughest benchmark available for solid state drives is AS SSD as it relies solely on incompressible data samples when testing performance. For the most part, AS SSD tests can be considered the ‘worst case scenario’ in obtaining data transfer speeds and many enthusiasts like AS SSD for their needs.


Looking at both the Crystal Diskmark and AS SSD Benchmarks, we can see that the Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3.0 does very well with highly incompressible data, exceeding the listed read specification continuously, although falling just under with write data transfer just a bit.  We ONLY test in high sequential performance for this software as it takes much too long to let all tests complete, well in excess of 45 minutes.


Anvil’s Storage Utilities (ASU) are the most complete test bed available for the solid state drive today. The benchmark displays test results for, not only throughput but also, IOPS and Disk Access Times. Not only does it have a preset SSD benchmark, but also, it has included such things as endurance testing and threaded I/O read, write and mixed tests, all of which are very simple to understand and use in our benchmark testing.





The Apricorn Aegis Secure key 3.0 is a very well thought out security device where it seems that all angles of potential exploitation have been examined and approached with security in mind.  Price is excellent when looking at the larger capacity, although somewhat underwhelming when considering the lower capacities. The product build is beyond reproach as the Secure Key 3.0 is, not only dustproof and waterproof but also, it is filled with epoxy to protect the interior components from compromise.  An explosion couldn’t hurt this device.


Coming in with FIPS 140-2 Level 3 validation and full-disk 256-Bit AES XTS encryption, many might be satisfied but it doesn’t stop there.  The Aegis Secure Key 3 is also software free which eliminates malware or virus exploits, can be set to have data self-destruct completely after a set number of incorrect pin attempts, and also has more user specific features such as multi-user password, read-only mode, as well as Auto-Lock when removed from a system.

This isn’t the ‘key’ to the Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3.0 though; it’s ease of setup and use is.  We had our 480GB sample up and running within minutes, finding the initial password setting to be quick and easy and just as the typical user might find.  From a personal perspective, the Secure Key 3.0 has replaced my former Iron Key (which I have had for much too long in any case) and is now one of my top personal gadgets!  Gold Seal!