The Elephone U-Disk is a biometrically encrypted USB flash drive with a fingerprint reader


Elephone has been making smartphones for some time, but has also recently started expanding its product lineup. One of its more recent announcements is the Elephone U-Disk: a USB flash drive with a full-sized fingerprint reader on the body of the device.

The file system will apparently be split into two sections: public and private, where:

  • The public section can be accessed by anyone and wouldn't require a fingerprint scan in order to read, add or remove data, and
  • The private section would be encrypted end-to-end, requiring the owner's fingerprint in order to read, add or remove encrypted data.
The body of the U-Disk will apparently be quite solid and made of some sort of metal alloy, and Elephone promises fast and accurate fingerprint reading. There is no indication yet as to which USB standard it will be supporting, the storage sizes the U-Disk will come in, or how much it will cost.

The technology does raise several concerns, though. Adding hardware (and software) complexity opens up several attack vectors that weren't open before, and how exactly will Elephone be handling the encryption and decryption? Which encryption method would be used? And, most important of all, is whether or not it would add any worthwhile level of security that wouldn't exist with non-biometric security methods.

This isn't the first time that USB flash drives with fingerprint readers have been developed, and all the way back in 2008 people were being cautioned against them. The technology across the board has since progressed rapidly, though, so we may be witnessing a more successful revival of the concept in the near future.