Printed USB Memory Sticks – By The Numbers

One of the challenges with distributing large number of USB memory sticks is knowing who’s been given which memory sticks. In many cases this is simply not an important consideration because the USB sticks are given away as a promotional item and the intent is purely to help with brand development, sales or customer loyalty. But, in some circumstances knowing who was given a particular USB stick is important:

  • If, for example you are a school or university and you’re distributing USB memory sticks with the school or university logo on to your students it makes sense to know who has been given which particular USB stick. The benefit is nothing to do with any “big brother” conspiracy but more to enable the school to repatriate the USB stick back to the owner in the event of loss.
  • Equally, if you are distributing USB flash sticks with sensitive data on that might for example be “time embargoed” it’s useful to record who was given a particular USB stick to help you trace back any leak – putting a slightly different version of the data on each stick and recording which stick was given to whom is one way of managing this.
  • If you need to manage data-loading onto different batches of USB sticks all of which have exactly the same logo on them and therefore look exactly the same its useful to have some way of distinguishing one USB stick from another.

One solution is to engrave or emboss a unique serial number on every USB stick during the manufacturing process.

USB Stick - Serial Numbers

This enables the sticks to be “bound” to a particular customer, employee or student. Adding a serial number to a USB stick is not an expensive or time-consuming option. In terms of cost it’s a matter of pennies and in terms of timing it might add a day or two to the production schedule.

Supplying USB flash drives with serial numbers on them that binds the drive to the owner will not address every concern you might have about security of data (particularly confidential data) but it’s a relatively simple solution that does help deal with some specific requirements and concerns.

In addition to identifying whom the stick was given to if you want to secure and protect any data that is stored on the stick then you need to ensure you buy USB sticks with password protection and encryption. Most suppliers of branded USB memory sticks can offer these solutions and the restrictions that were historically imposed by the National Security Agency (NSA) in the US on the exportation of data encryption solutions have been relaxed a little meaning good strength security is now commercially available outside the US.

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