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USB Firewall For Connecting USB Devices

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!

The Armadillo USB Firewall is available from Globotron for $150 USD and ships from New Zealand.

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Remote access to USB security keys

If you are an avid user of USB security dongles, you might know how challenging it may be to get remote access to these devices. To simplify this task, Electronic Team, Inc. has developed a dedicated software solution capable of sharing USB protection dongles over the network.

Donglify is a lightweight desktop application that allows connecting USB hardware keys to remote computers over the Internet and LAN. The software uses the 2048-bit SSL encryption to secure your connections, so you don’t need to worry that your sensitive data will be intercepted or lost.

One of the nicest things about Donglify is that it can redirect one USB dongle to several remote PCs simultaneously. In order to make a USB hardware key available for use on multiple computers, you can just connect the device to your local PC and share it over the network with nothing more than a couple of clicks. This option, currently, works with HASP HL Pro, Sentinel HL Pro, SafeNet eToken 5110, and CodeMeter CmStick security keys.

USB hardware keys of other types can also be shared over the Internet but you’ll be able to access them from one remote machine at a time.

Donglify is available by subscription and comes with a 30-day free trial. When the trial period is over, you can continue using the service for $19.99 a month.

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Features to Consider When Buying a USB Duplicator

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.

Buy, USB Duplicator 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.

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What’s the Difference Between USB and UDISK?

With all the gadgets and devices we post about, there’s plenty of merit in veering a little closer to some USB hardware fundamentals and how it communicates with your computer. To highlight this importance, a UDISK Drive and its internal functionality will serve as a comparison.

USB Drive



Simply put, a UDISK is a hard drive in USB form. With magnetic hard drive platters spinning inside an enclosure, UDISKs have a bridge chip regulating the way the drive mounts to an operating system. This chip changes the hard from from IDE protocols, to USB. Standard USB drives don’t use rotating disks to store data, but use flash memory instead, which enjoys faster speeds as well as increased reliability against shock, pressure, and temperature. Why then do these UDISK drives exist? Because those spinning disks are cheaper to manufacture but they can be sold at the same price as standard flash memory USB drives and the difference may not be clear to users.

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Sony Branded USB Turntable

CES, 2016. Sony releases a USB turntable, named HX500. Sony will provide backup- software for the Mac and PC and it connects via USB. From there, you can send the DSD (Direct Stream Digital) copies to your computer or device. Of course Sony would prefer you to play them back on their Hi-Res-playing Sony Walkmans.

The DSD audio is a lossless audio quality that will sound more full and rich than your downloaded MP3 file. Andy why not, vinyl records have been making a big comeback the last couple of years.

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AirBar – Make Any Laptop Touchscreen

The Airbar will turn any Windows laptop into a touch screen. Very cool. The technology is friendly with Windows 8 and 10 and this is because it uses Microsoft’s “Gestures” technology to turn your laptop into a touchscreen laptop.

The Airbar was designed in Sweden and made in Sweden. The bar is $50 US Dollars.

The Airbar works by invisible light beams. To get it working you connect is via USB and set the bar at the bottom of your laptop screen, just like you see in the picture.

The Airbar will project light upward. As your fingers break the barrier of the projected light, the bar will translate this into gestures. Through the Windows API for gestures your actions will translate to the programs running.

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StarTech USB 3.0 & 4K DisplayPort Dock Station

The USB 3.0 / 4K display and dock station is ideal for the Bring Your Own Device work environment (BYOD).

Assuming you have a limited port laptop computer the StarTech dock station can expand your laptop screen and extend out to a 4K video feed needed. It doesn’t stop there with USB 3.0 port connectivity, and Ethernet connection.

The front side of the dock station also includes a USB charging port. You can avoid the inconvenience of a dead battery and make sure your mobile device is always ready to go, using the dock’s USB fast-charge and sync port. Plus, the always-on port supports device charging even when your laptop isn’t connected to the dock.

The dock station can act as a charging station unplugged as well, making it a very portable solution. A good fit for this product would be home-office where the work space is not that large, or class room where the budget isn’t there for a complete work station and a BYOD situation best applies.

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Voltaic – Solar Charger For iPad & The Likes

Voltaic is a company that deals with voltage.  They specialize in the solar charging to create volts.  Their latest entry is the Spark.  The Spark is a solar panel design for tablet and notebooks. Voltaic is marketing the Spark for the iPad – and why not as there’s plenty of marketing spin going on for Apple tablets. The Spark will generate 8watts of solar power.  So for those who don’t have an electrical engineering degree, or simply can’t do the math – one hour of sun to the Spark will generate enough power to run one hour of video off the iPad.  Not bad.
  • Weather:  Panels are waterproof, lightweight and built to withstand abuse.
  • Charge times: About 10 hours in direct sun will fully charge an iPad, other tablets may take less time.
  • Peak Output: 6 Volts, 1,333mA or 12 Volts, 667mA
  • Connector:  USB and 5 standard adapters
So here is the price – $299 USD.  To learn more, visit Continue Reading

iPhone Keyboard Makes iPhone Desktop Computer

The new iPhone keyboard from Iomnio is a great example on the convergence of technology.  The keyboard, named WOWKey, has a dock station for your iPhone where-by giving you full keyboard connectivity and functionality to your iPhone.

iPhone keyboard

With the WOWKey you can respond to emails quickly and easily.  You can draft letters, run excel spreadsheets and much more like a traditional laptop computer.  The WOWKey gives you the functionality you need to more effectively use your iPhone.  In my opinion, this is the direction which computers need to go.  From some studies, the majority of computer use is for email response and web browsing. Iomnio has two additional features which any iPhone lover will appreciate; first, they have 15 hotkeys designed for the iPhone for quick navigation and utility access.  Second, WOWKeys offers is the use of the multi-touch function on a PC display and the Air Mouse Pro, an app that can be used as a laptop touchpad or number pad.

iPhone keyboard

The WOWKey from Iomnio is priced at an equivalent $105 US dollars.  The WOWKey is currently only available in Korea, but is clearly designed for the largest market, the United States, as you can see the English version settings in the screenshot from the original article at AVING.net. Continue Reading

Don’t Limit Your iPad From USB

You might have heard the next gen iPad will include a miniUSB port, but for those looking for an easier interface today, or want a standard USB interface for even the upcoming iPad, you should get the USB connector kit from USB Fever.

USB kit iPad

The kit has a SD and USB connector which talks with the iPad through the female Apple connector you use for synchronizing or connecting to your computer.The kit gives you an easier way to upload images, video and PDF documents.  It also gives you an easier way to connect your iPhone or other digital camera or video recorder to your iPad.  Hell, you could almost toss out the PC…oh way, you’ve still got to sync and update. The USB port could also be used to connect your keyboard to the iPad for typing emails, etc.  Sure you all love the keypad on the iPad, but it’s still not as easy to use as a traditional keyboard. USBFever webpage [$35]. Continue Reading

Bring Back The Old School Typewriter, Via USB

There is nothing more satisfying for a finger work-out then using a laboriously slow old school typewriter.  Or on those cloudy days where you feel a bit melancholy and in the mood to write the start of a novel you’ll never finish, you may need to punch down on those exhausting keys of a manual typewriter to get the creative juices flowing. Today I present you that possibility and better yet, with a touch of technology to  make your craving a bit more current.

USB typewriter

A well known steampunk modder [Jack Zylkin] has taken the traditional typewriter and transformed it’s key punching into a digital conversion of letters and numbers.  Using some customized PCBA, a USB connection and a bit of code it’s now possible to sync your great grandmother’s typewriter with your computer, or in this video, your iPad. Your craving wont go without some minor cash flow issues, as you can purchase a pre-made [or pre-mod I should say] USB typewriter or you can buy a kit and down grade your very own typewriter and keep the family air loom alive and kicking. To get more details visit the Etsy Shop to make your purchase or gather more information. Continue Reading

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