Mobiu secure mobile office - PC

Data security has barely been out of the news over the past few years, with every week bringing a new "scandal" to the fore as sensitive information is lost or stolen, removed or misplaced, often with no protection in place. With the increasing sophistication of miscreants looking to abuse such data, can you afford not to keep yours secure?

Mobiu think they have the answer in the form of their chip and PIN style security key. Housed in a USB drive, the Mobiu features a chip on a SIM card, like you'd find in a mobile broadband dongle or mobile phone. This provides the hardware security, whilst on-board software takes care of the PIN entry and privacy.

Unlike some systems that just lock down access to a particular PC (literally like a USB key), Mobiu offers a full office service. Insert the Mobiu into any PC (Mac currently not supported) and once you have entered your PIN number, the on-board software launches the Mobiu Desktop, which connects via the Internet to the secure Mobiu servers.

This means that you can have a secure backup and storage of your data in the cloud (a 5GB MobiVault is included with your subscription) whilst also having a secure channel in the form of MobiRooms for sharing documents.

But the online aspect is useless without some form of local support. Fortunately the Mobiu drive features a suite of software on-board, including office applications from Softmaker (word processor, spreadsheets, presentations), PDF viewer and a compression tool, and a secure version of Firefox to use as your browser, meaning you can get secure access to webmail too.

The result is basically a secure mobile office on a USB drive. The great thing about this is you can use any PC without having to worry about erasing your tracks behind you, or carrying around the documents you might need for reference or to work on. So if you are a mobile worker you might use your home computer, but equally it could be an internet cafe, a friend's or whatever depending on the situation you find yourself in, but via Mobiu you can always access your sensitive information.

The Mobiu Desktop is easy to navigate with all your options laid out down the left-hand side or across the top, working on a simple file and folder system. You can send secure invites to other Mobiu users (so long as you know their membership number) to your MobiRooms and enable sharing of files and so on.

From a MobiRoom you can download files to work on locally, with the option of launching Mobiu software, or software on your host PC. Documents that you download are saved on the Mobiu key itself in a local 1GB storage area. This 1GB of local storage is encrypted, so you can't access it without knowing the PIN number either.

In the Mobiu Desktop there is tab called Downloaded Documents which is used to control these files. This gives you basic information on the file and the version in the original MobiRoom, including the dates that these files were modified. This is a critically important screen, as it gives you the option to return your edited document to the online area, as well as remove it from the drive itself.

Returning the files gives you several version control options so you can create new copies or overwrite the existing document depending on what you want to do. There is no automatic reminder to this however, so you need to remember to return any documents you have been working on if that information is needed by colleagues. You also get the option to erase any documents from the storage area of the drive.

In terms of adding documents to your MobiRooms, you can simply drag and drop, with "This Computer" letting you navigate the host PC. It didn't seem to recognise additional drives, such as a USB drive or network drive, so you'll have to have the document saved on your PC before you can introduce it into the system.

Verdict

Overall the system is simple and easy to use with our only complaint being that you have to remember to return any file you update, otherwise you end up with your local files being up to date and no one else knowing what you have done. It's a simple housekeeping point, but a small reminder when you go to eject the Mobiu would cover this issue nicely.

Mobiu see this as a simple way to allow organisations access data and work on collaborative projects without having to setup a network infrastructure or backup system. But you will have to pay for the Mobiu service and at £125+VAT for the first year, and the same as an ongoing subscription, this puts it firmly in the hands of business rather than the consumer.

Business buyers will have a choice of reseller and there will be various deals too, as well as incremental price changes should you opt to increase your online storage capacity.

Mobiu did reveal some of their roadmap, and Mac users will soon have the same offering made available to them whilst enhancements to the system, such as the incorporation of mobile broadband for a complete mobile offering, are likely to appear towards the end of 2009.

A comprehensive security offering, this should appeal to businesses large and small.