Securing Our Devices

When transferring large files, the default and most convenient method is usually using a removable storage media. How do we secure such devices to safeguard the data within, and protect them against tampering?

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With the aim of securing removable storage media to prevent data loss for MINDEF, the SAF and DSTA, our team of cyber engineers decided to design something with improved usability and security. 

“Based on our market research, there wasn’t a commercial product that would satisfy our unique security requirements, so we decided to customise our own solution. This would also allow us to design according to the evolving cybersecurity threat landscape and advancements in IT,” said Senior Engineer (Cybersecurity) Goh Pei Ming.

The effort saw enhancements implemented for both hardware and software. On the hardware front, the team ensured that the removable storage media was housed in a strong enclosure equipped with tamper detection and response circuitry to prevent it from being disassembled for malicious purposes, and also tightened access to the devices. For the software, the team incorporated encryption mechanism developed in-house that prevents unauthorised access to the data stored within, which ensures secure data transfers.

Beyond security and usability, the team also felt that it was important for the solution to be ergonomically designed. Working with their users for constant feedback, the team refined the design iteratively to achieve a secure design that was sleek and lightweight for maximum portability, and could also incorporate new USB interface standards to enable faster transfer speeds and increased storage capacities. 

As IT advances, the team is challenged to continue enhancing the design for greater compatibility with new laptop standards and data transfer speeds.

“This project was extremely fulfilling and educational for us. We’ve learnt a lot, and even got to oversee the whole product development cycle, from conceptualisation to design, to eventually developing the final product,” said Head (Cyber Infra – IT Systems) Raymond Quah.