This article will overview PDF copy protection and the available options. A couple of things worth mentioning before getting into the details:
Encryption is different than copy protection. Encryption is a technology solution where the PDF owner assigns a password to the document and after the user enters that password the user can do anything they want with the file. Print, share, screen capture, etc. The idea for encryption is the document being unattainable until a password is entered.
Copy protection does not use a password and anyone can see the file. However; the file cannot be copied, printed, shared or screen captured. The idea behind copy protection is the PDF being viewed by anyone, but nothing can be done with the file. When people are searching for PDF copy protection, this is the solution most likely sought after.
PDF or Portable Document Format is an open standard. What this means is the document format was designed to be used in just about any document reader program. The goal for the PDF specification was to make the format as universal as possible. For this reason, it is a bit more difficult than one would think to copy protect a PDF file.
Windows comes pre-installed with Adobe Reader. In addition, Windows has embedded Adobe API code to read PDF files. Even if Adobe Reader was not installed on your computer, or uninstalled, the underlying code is still there to open a PDF. In additional to Adobe Reader (#1 PDF reader in the market) there are dozens of additional PDF reader programs. Again, the goal for all these readers is to open and read a portable document file.
Adobe copy protection solutions are very well known for being cracked. If you Google “Adobe copy protection crack” you will find pages of ways the Adobe security features are compromised. Here and here are two examples of Google search results with web pages dedicated to hacking.
The fundamental problem with copy protection are the lack of controls when viewing a PDF. Meaning a PDF content owner (you) does not have the control over Adobe Reader, or other programs, to stop the user (your client/customer/student) from printing, screen grabbing, sharing and saving.
The idea behind a PDF copy protection solution is a framework where the PDF can be opened and viewed, while you (the content owner) maintains control of the document.
Of course Adobe Reader, FoxIt Reader and others, will not provide the tools to block a user from printing or saving from within their program. In contrast, we need a “reader” or “viewer” with controls to block those functions.
With this in mind, it is difficult to provide a reader with these security functions. Most users who receive a PDF do not want to download and install another program just to read a PDF file. The ease and beauty of a PDF gets lost in that process. No longer is the PDF a portable document format. In addition, a software program that can be downloaded to view a PDF can also be downloaded by a hacker to be reverse engineered. There needs to be something more than just a secure reader/viewer to control the PDF.
The most secure way to copy protect a PDF file is to associate it with something physical. There are some software (only) solutions, but those are not as secure as a solution with something physical.
In this article we will detail how the Nexcopy USB copy protection solution works. Before we start there are important definitions we must all agree upon. As in today’s market place there are multiple vendors using the wrong definitions to explain copy protection.
Copy protection is different than encryption; although copy protection does use a form of encryption in the overall solution.
Encryption is scrambling up data and requiring a password to piece all the data together and display it. Once the password is entered the data can be viewed. The potential security issue is the user who entered the password can now do anything they wish with the files, print, save, share, etc.
Copy protection is different in two ways. First, there is no password required to view the data. Second, the files cannot be saved, printed, shared, streamed when viewed by even the most trusted user.
The later, copy protection, is what most people want when it comes to multi-media files like PDF, video, audio and HTML pages. Most users want the data to be seen by as many people as possible, yet the data cannot be saved, shared, streamed, printed or screen captured.
So with that in mind, let us review how the Nexcopy solution works for USB copy protection.
Here are six bullet points regarding features Nexcopy provides which others do not:
Copy protected content plays on both Mac and Windows computers
There are no Admin rights required to play the content
There is no installation required on the host computer
The content runs 100% from the flash drive
The USB stick is write protect, so files cannot be deleted or changed
The solution is both hardware and software, ultra-secure
The Nexcopy USB copy protection solution runs with the assumption the content owner does not want to share the data with even duplication service companies. It is assumed the content owner wants total control of the data before, during and after the USB duplication process.
Here are the steps for using the Copy Secure drives as the content owner:
The average user inserts a USB stick into their computer from a trusted source. However, there are companies and situations who receive USB flash drives or USB hard drives and they are not certain if the device is infected.
Globotron is a company based in New Zealand who designed the product. The product is called Armadillo and is an open-source USB firewall.
Some research has shown, as many as 29 different types of USB attacks can happen from plugging in mass storage devices (like USB flash drives and USB hard drives) or also HID devices (human input devices like keyboards and mouse).
The USB stack which is the low level code used in the host computer, is very complex and over time researchers and hackers have discovered ways to compromise a computer system through these vulnerabilities.
The Armadillo is an open-source device which is a firewall between a USB device and computer. The firewall isolates the firmware of the USB device so as not to infect your PC if the device has been infected with malicious firmware. You just need to plug in Armadillo between your computer and the USB device using the provided micro-USB cable. Armadillo is an upgrade over USG, the original or first-generation USB hardware firewall device.
The Armadillo has bot detection. This means if the USB firewall device detects malicious codes are being entered via keyboard or mouse (HID devices) the device will block transmission and a red LED indicator light will turn on.
The Armadillo has the ability to temporarily make your USB read only. This is valuable if the computer is infected and you need pull information (recovery software) from the USB stick and want to insure virus’ do not infect the flash drive. The USB is read-only, but it is read/write when not connected to the Armadillo.
Note: If you need a USB stick that is always write protected at the controller level, yet need to temporarily turn off the write protection for data changes, the Lock License drive from Nexcopy is your solution.
This last point about the Armadillo is a bit strange, but we like it. The body is sealed with glitter epoxy so it is easy to identify if the box itself was tampered with. Very creative!
Today, like never before, individuals are working from the home office. Working in an favorable situation is decent and beneficial and I think this is why so many love the home office. As favorable as things may be; now and again the home office doesn’t have a computer gear to carry out the responsibilities required. With numerous business now practicing social distancing, one will discover certain things are still needed.
Consider the niche requirement to make USB duplicates at the home office. For instance, let us consider an IT director who needs to turn out bootable restore recover sticks, or a product engineer who is required to send programming updates to a group of remote office sales guys. These managers need a snappy, simple and econimical bit of gear to do the job.
The smaller USB flash drive duplicator by Nexcopy is an incredible solution for this definite issue. The unit measurings is 15cm long and 10cm wide. So it will fit into any computer bag, and light as a book.
The USB duplicator is a one-master to four-target copy station. The duplicator is a digital binary copier which duplicates any file system or structure provided by the master host flash drive. Using a USB cable the duplicator can power the five USB flash drives; however, is not recommended for using with USB hard drives.
With a duplicator like this, making duplicates at the home office is speedy and extremely simple. There are four menu buttons, enter, escape, up and down. The unit will work at the press of a single button, which makes this unit ideal for non technical people. The mini duplicator may be configured to perform a binary copy or a binary copy and compare. The copy and compare function gives the user piece of mind that each copy is exactly the same as the master. Having a verification option will insure every copy is the same as the master, giving the user piece of mind all the copies are 100% correct and exact.
Reviewing the features of the duplicator, we have note worthy features:
Asynchronous copy mode, all the time
Binary copier will copy any format; FAT, FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, HFS, Ext2,3,4, Proprietary
Binary CRC verification algorithm
Quick Erase and Full Erase for disk sanitization
Four language modes in LCD menu
USB speed benchmark utility
Is the cost of the mini sized USB duplicator worth the cost for a home office employee? The easiest way to determine this is asking ourselves how much time the duplicator will save. This mini copy station, called the Nexcopy USB104SA will copy one GB of data to each device in just over one minute. That is extremely fast. If an IT manager or software engineer had to data load a 12 GB worth of data on a PC, it would take about 12 minutes to make four copies. Windows could never copy that much data, that quickly. When using the copy and compare mode it takes a bit longer… about 1.5 minutes per GB. So still incredibly quick.
Several features are worth mentioning in a bit more detail. The Erase function is a technical term to remove all data from the USB flash drive. This is a robust feature which guarantees data is removed from the flash drive with no ability of the data being recovered. Formatting a drive doesn’t clean data from the drive, the format function only destroys the file allocation table (the directions to find data), but erase will actually overwrite random binary data over the data blocks. There are two erase settings available on this little USB104SA, and the quick erase will scrub certain portions of the drive so some data could remain, but most likely the files would be corrupted if trying to be recovered because the random write sequence skips around the drive and over writting just bits of memory. The full erase function will write binary randomly zeros and ones to all the NAND memory of the flash drive. By doing this randomization, it would be impossible for sophisticated forensics recovery software to restore any data.
The four language modes include English, Spanish, Portuguese and Simplified Chinese.
The USB benchmark speed is a great a convenient tool for testing the read speeds and write speeds of a thumb drive. This is even more valuable when dealing with promotional quality media, as this low-end memory is very instable and can get frustrating to deal with. The easiest way to determine the quality of memory is looking at the write speed. With the benchmark utility one can test the read and write speed of a drive. The USB duplicator will write about 20MBs of random data to determine the average read and write speed. If the USB memory has a write speed of 4MB/second or lower, it’s not good quality. If the write speed is above 8MB/second for USB 2.0 media and above 20MB/second write speed for USB 3.0 media, it is of better quality memory.
The USB duplicator made by Nexcopy is a backward compatible product and will copy to USB 1.0, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 flash drives. The duplicator will write to the device as fast as it will allow. The best write times will result from the operator using USB 3.0 media.
LAKE FOREST, CA, USA, November 20, 2019 /EINPresswire.com/ — Lake Forest, CA – November 20, 2019 –
Nexcopy Inc., introduces all new mini size USB duplicator, the USB104SA, a 4 target standalone USB flash memory Duplicator specifically design to be light weight and portable.
The USB104SA USB Duplicator has a list of features which pivot from the larger, award winning, Nexcopy standalone duplicators. Features include:
Asynchronous copy mode, all the time
Binary copier will copy any format; FAT, FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, HFS, Ext2,3,4, Proprietary
Binary CRC verification algorithm
Quick Erase and Ful Erase for disk sanitization
Four language modes in LCD menu
USB speed benchmark utility
“With the lack of optical drives in computers and laptop, the USB stick continues to grow in popularity,” reports Greg Morris, President of Nexcopy. “What we have seen is a demand for both small configuration systems for those transitioning from optical media to USB media and large production systems which we’ve serviced for years. The USB104SA is a great stepping stone for those coming from the optical duplication industry.”
Stan McCrosky, head of Sales, comments, “What we have seen, are small organizations and business requesting something low cost and low volume for data duplication. Our main focus is still business-to-business, but the growing demand for low volume duplication equipment justified the development of a product like the USB104SA.”
The USB104SA is a portable solution and ideal for trade shows or spoken word events. The unit weighs less than one pound and with a foot print of about six inches by one inch tall. The unit can easily fit into your computer bag, which is ideal for carry-on luggage at the airport.
The USB duplicator is powered by a microUSB cable which can be connected to your computer laptop USB port. A USB block is also provided for powering from an outlet.
Nexcopy firmware is a code technology which has evolved since 2008. This system is backward compatible with USB 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 flash memory. The system will accept SD card reader adapters, microSD and CF card reader adapters. The firmware may be used to speed test flash memory which is a great tool for understanding the quality of flash memory a supplier has provided.
USB-C is great. Ultra fast data transfer rates close to 10Gbps and increased power to charge laptops, monitors and TVs. However; the power improvement from USB-C doesn’t last over longer cables. The USB-C (or USB 3) specification indicates the optical power and transfer rates will retain as long as the cable length is under two meters, or about six feet.
POE or Power over Ethernet, is a way to get both data and power to longer destinations via cable. PoE Texas has unveiled such a product for USB-C connections.
“As a standard USB-C offers amazing speed and power delivery. Unfortunately, USB-C can only transmit power less than ten feet (three meters), and the cable infrastructure comes at a cost premium. Ethernet cable, nearly ubiquitous in modern construction, can transmit power and data 328 feet (100 meters). USB-C power and data transmitted over Power Over Ethernet significantly lowers the cost of adopting USB-C by eliminating the need for new electrical infrastructure.”
Let’s give an example of how the PoE USB-C product could work – the following is a real life example from our own experience:
A user has a work station about 30 feet away from the production unit it needs to communicate with. The production unit is a USB-C duplicator by Nexcopy. The work station has a manager who controls the data to be loaded to USB-C flash drives, and the production unit, or USB duplicator, is manned by a production manager who physically connects and disconnects the USB sticks during the duplication process.
Because a standard USB-C cable cannot be used, as the distance is too far, the User could employ the USBC Power Over Ethernet product and get both the power and data to the destination.
Let’s face it, optical discs are large and bulky. At nearly five inches in diameter, the discs are big when compared to the size of modern laptops and now tablets. Even though the optical drives has been greatly reduced in size, more and more laptops have dropped the technology to conserve on space and power.
If you are not talking about the size of the mobile computer, the space used up by an optical drive can be used for more practical things. That space could be better used for the battery which can extend the overall running time of the system. If the system is designed for performance, it could store a better or bigger solid state drive in addition to a hard drive for added performance. Maybe the computer could use a better graphics solution for graphic design or gaming.
When CD-R drives first came into the market, they offered a huge storage capacity that rivaled traditional magnetic media of the day. After all, 650 megabytes of storage was well beyond what most hard drives were at the time. DVD expanded this capacity even further with 4.7 gigabytes of storage on the recordable formats.
While the growth rate of optical media was good, it is nowhere near the exponential growth that hard drives and USB sticks have seen. Optical storage is still stuck in the gigabytes while most hard drives are pushing even more terabytes. Using the CD, DVD and Blu-ray for storing data is just not worth it anymore. The write time is too slow and the seek time to find your data is equally as slow. The hard drive and it’s portable version, USB flash drive have found the main stream masses.
Keeping these points in mind, you can see why optical media is all but dead. Sure, the CD-R and DVD-R will last another year, probably another five, but it’s USB and hard drives which have taken over. The next step in the logical progression, is how to data load USB media? With optical media you had CD and DVD tower duplicators. There are many systems with robotics and printers so duplicate to the optical media and also print a label. But those systems are getting harder and harder to find.
The equipment most companies and organizations are seeking now are USB duplicators. These are flash memory copier systems which can data load content to USB flash drives at ultra-fast speeds. CD and DVD duplicators went through some phases of supported formats like discs being finalized or disc-at-once over track-at-once. Well, USB duplicators have a similar issue to resolve. There is file copy and binary copy and duplication from an ISO file or an IMG file. There are many ways to copy the data from the source to the target USB media.
It’s important to have a USB duplicator which supports all these functions. There are some duplicators with as many as six copy modes. A system like this makes it extremely versatile for the user to move data around. There is file copy, copy add, unique data streaming, copy from a physical device, copy from an IMG file, copy from an ISO file. These are all great resources to have if you are not sure how the content is being given to you.
Came across an article today, which I thought was a very good read. It’s a niche article, but for anyone who deals with flash drives, I would suggest checking it out.
From the article:
The optical drive is nearly dead – they are no longer found in laptops and rarely found in tower PCs. With that said, the trend for giving out data is shifting to USB flash, not CD or DVD media. Because of this shift, many companies are taking a closer look at buying a USB duplicator.
There are several factors one must consider before spending thousands of dollars on a USB duplicator. We have broken down the most important considerations into four categories. After reviewing these four categories, you should have an excellent idea of which type of duplicator is best for your organization.
USB Duplication Speed
Speed is the first area you should analyze to figure out which direction you should go. When considering speed, we are not simply talking about the copy speed of the USB duplicator, but other factors as well, such as number of USB sockets and the user interface required for feedback during operation. Questions you should ask, include:
# How many USB drives will you need to copy in a day or week?
# How large is the data load in MBs or GBs?
# What kind of turn-around time do you have between a duplication request and when that request should be completed?
# Is there printing, or branding required, on the outside of the USB?
# Do you need proof of performance via a log file?
Answering the above questions will give you an idea of what type of USB duplicator to consider. The type of duplicator will be size, how many USB sockets, copy speed of the duplicator and what type of software, if any, your organization will need.
Your Production Crew
Your next step is to consider the production crew who will be running the equipment. Will there be non-technical people running the equipment, or will a more hands-on approach be required? Is the IT department looking to restrict user access to the equipment or restrict access to the data content during the duplication process?
Much of the above depends on how the data is received before copied to the USB flash drive. For example, a duplication company might receive a physical master from a client; where-as a fulfillment house may get content delivered from a server from an on-line order submission process.
Will the organization require multiple USB duplicators located in different parts of the world? Said another way, many global companies standardize on one manufacturer so the user experience is the same across multiple locations. This also makes production easier as both support and experience can be shared between divisions to streamline processes on a global scale.
Knowing the production crew, their capabilities and responsibilities will help narrow the search for the right piece of equipment.
Read-Only or Read-Write
The third category worth investigating is asking the state of what the USB should be once sent delivered. Is the organization looking to ship out a read-only flash drive? By default all flash drives are read-write. Because of this, many organizations fear a virus could jump onto the drive and spreading to other computers. With that fear in mind, most companies are looking for a USB duplicator which creates a read-only drive product. This means the USB drive is locked, or write protected. The files cannot be deleted or formatted off the drive, and more importantly, files cannot jump onto the drive.
Nexcopy is world leader in read-only flash drive duplicators and therefore used as an example of a duplicator system worth considering.
Nexcopy is a bit of classic entrepreneurial story, starting out in a home garage and sales on the first day of business, this is a story about a copy that has gone only upward.
Tech Company News had some time to sit down with the owner of Nexcopy, Greg Morris, and fire off some questions.
Here is a snippet from the interview…
Question: What kind of technology does Nexcopy offer?
Answer:Nexcopy has a specific focus on flash memory duplication, printing and production needs. The business started out with one product geared towards USB duplication. From that single product, Nexcopy’s business has expanded into other duplication equipment such as SD card duplicators, microSD cards duplicators, Compact Flash cards duplicators, and of course our most recent product, the USB Type C duplicator. During this expansion process of hardware, Nexcopy also developed copy protection of digital files on USB drives and mobile devices. Several years ago, Nexcopy introduced a USB flash drive printer which really rounded out our product offering. From the devices, to the duplication equipment to the branding equipment, Nexcopy is a one-stop manufacturer for anyone who deals in flash memory.
In a recent news press release from Nexcopy Inc., it appears USB Type C is trending up for consumer demand.
Via the EIN News Wire Service, Nexcopy announced a twenty target USB-C Duplicator. Some of the information posted in the release talks about the upward trend manufacturers are seeing with USB type C product. In addition, the production of a mass aggregator, or duplicator, is another indication users are data loading, in bulk, to USB-C product.
“Apple computers and Iot, or Internet Of Things, are driving the force behind the increased demand for USB-C flash drive consumption. Although the internet is great for many data sharing applications, there is still a great need for data dissemination off line. USB is still the definitive choice among users to share data via flash memory,” states Greg Morris, President of Nexcopy.
Morris continues, “We see the demand of USB-C duplication to only rise in the coming years. In technology, smaller is always better, and as devices get slimmer in size the USB type A socket will eventually phase out and USB type C taking over. The transition is slow, but it is inevitable; and with that said, we are ready – today.”
Nexcopy is also well known for the PRO series duplicators that perform advanced functions to flash drives, such as USB write protection (USB read-only), partitions at the controller level, and serial number control for UFD identification. From the press release, these advanced functions will also be available on the USB-C200PC duplicator.
The USB-C duplicator has a list price of $1,299 from what we understand and available now through a list of on-line retails like Amazon and NewEgg. The product is also available through a worldwide network of authorized resellers.
Using Windows 10, you can partition a USB flash drive into multiple partitions. The process is not difficult, you simply follow some easy steps. This tutorial will partition the drive so that your device is assigned multiple drive letters when connected to the computer.
This partition process is not done at the USB controller level; or said another way, done at the hardware level. This USB partition process, for a lack of better terms, is done at the software level. What does this mean for you? It means the partitions can be wiped off the drive and full capacity of the USB flash drive can be restored.
When a USB stick is partitioned at the controller level, or at the hardware level, there is no way to reverse the partition. The multi-partition drive is permanent. At the end of this tutorial is the solution for a hardware based partition solution.
So letâ€™s get started.
How to partition a USB flash drive in Windows 10:
Connect the USB flash drive to your Windows 10 machine. Be sure there is nothing valuable on the USB as this process will remove all content from the drive.
Right Click the Windows icon and select Disk Management.
The Disk Management window will appear with all the connected devices. Select your USB flash drive by clicking one time. By selecting your flash drive, it will allow Windows to apply the partition to that device.
Account security is one of the most vital pieces of the busy and interconnected world right now and nobody wants strangers accessing their personal information online. You might use a password manager as well as two-factor authentication like we mentioned in a previous post, but now there’s another way to stay protected.
In response to similar approaches from Google and Dropbox, Facebook has added support for safe login security keys. When you log into your account, this device will prove your identity rather than a code which sends to your phone. In addition to the superior security, they’re also potentially faster. With just a tap on the device you can have access to your Facebook account and feel safer in knowing only you can unlock it. It’s a welcome move from the company in an age where cyberattacks and identity theft are on the rise and as a universal rule on the internet, it’s never a bad time to strengthen your defences.