Looking for a way to protect all the data you store in thumb drives? Some external storage solutions now come with built-in encryption, so that's a category you should definitely consider. If you've got a boxful of flash drives you don't want to put to waste, though, you'll probably be better off with this: the Crypto Adapter.
Created by Norway-based Hiddn, the device is a hardware peripheral that will sit between a PC's USB port and your external storage. That means, you connect the contraption to your computer and you plug the drives onto it -- encryption and decryption is done inside the machine throughout use.
Despite what the "adapter" in the name might suggest, the Hiddn Crypto Adapter is no small peripheral. In fact, it's probably closer in size to the 3.5-inch IDE external drives of old, rather than the tiny storage accessories we have today. Despite the non-ideal size, the security it provides should be reason enough to gladly travel with one in tow.
Compatible with all PC operating systems (no software installation needed), it uses an AES 256-bit encryption algorithm for obscuring your data (no keys are stored on the drive itself), along with a combination PIN and smartcard to access the files on the drive. Without the peripheral, it's impossible to make sense of anything kept on the storage, so losing an ultra-small USB thumb drive need not be such a scary proposition anymore.
The Hiddn Crypto Adapter supposedly works with all types of USB-connected storage, including thumb drives and external HDDs. We can't find information on pricing or availability, but this is one impressive peripheral a lot of security-conscious folks will probably find comforting.