A portable mass storage device is used to store large files such as digital pictures, movies and music. The mass storage device has firmware with security mechanisms that limit access to read write operations to ensure reliable operation of the device to prevent unwanted copying or storing of secure content such a copyrighted material. Although the security mechanisms generally limit access, the firmware is operable to work with a virtual machine and allows the virtual machine to access the secure content and work in conjunction with the firmware to read and write data to the mass storage memory, if the virtual machine is present. The virtual machine is either loaded but not activated at the time of manufacture, or is downloaded and activated post manufacture. Any royalty for the virtual machine is paid for only if and when the virtual machine is both present and activated in the device.