FIPS 197 certification looks at the hardware encryption algorithms used to protect the data. FIPS 140-2 is the next, more advanced level of certification. FIPS 140-2 includes a rigorous analysis of the product's physical properties. So, with a FIPS 140-2 certified USB Flash Drive the tamper-proof design of the circuit board has been approved, as well as the data encryption.
256-bit AES encryption (Advance Encryption Standard) is an International standard which ensures data is encrypted/decrypted following this approved standard. It ensures high security and is adopted by the U.S. government and other intelligence organizations across the world.
Hardware based encryption is where data which is transferred to and from the Integral encrypted USB is automatically encrypted/decrypted through a AES chip built on the Flash Drive. This is much faster and more secure than a software based encryption system, where data is encrypted/decrypted through a program on the PC/Mac.