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TiSTICK – The Over Kill USB Flash Drive

The TiSTICK is currently available on Kickstarter. Here is your summary update if interested:

The flash drive has a titanium case, made of very durable material, has 256AES hardware encryption, available in several large GB capacities and is getting near full funding on Kickstarter.

We like the shape, we like the magnet on the tail of the drive, and we like the look. Great marketing and certainly sets itself apart from the rest of the “durable” flash drives. So well done Jörg Lingg.

In our humble opinion a bit over kill, but that is only our opinion. The following drive is made of aluminum, has been ran over multiple times with a car, and still works fine with it’s Alcor controller with encryption functionality.

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Harmonization Code for USB Flash Drives

HS Code for USB Flash Drives

When importing or exporting USB flash drives in the United States you will want to use this Harmonization Code to help with customs paperwork.

The Harmonization Code is tariff nomenclature for internationally trade which defines names and numbers assigned to traded products. The HS Code System came into effect in 1988 and has since been developed and maintained by the World Customs Organization (WCO), based in Brussels, Belgium. There are over 200 countries which participate in this program.

The HS Code for a USB flash drive is: 8523.51.0000

In the event your freight forwarder or delivery service tells you that an ECCN is needed to ship USB flash drives and is required to complete the Automated Export System (AES) or other documentation then please give them the above information and it should all work out.

ECCN stands for Export Control Classification Number. An ECCN is an alpha-numeric classification used in the Commerce Control List to identify items for export control purposes.

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Look What 10 Years Does for Lexar and SD Cards

Almost ten years ago Lexar announced it’s first 1GB SD card. Today Lexar announces their first 1TB SD card. My, how times have changed. A one GB card ten years ago cost about $125 and difficult to find at that capacity. The 1TB card announced today is $499. Doing a quick calculation means the price per Megabyte went from $0.12 cents all the way down to $0.0005 per Megabyte. Awesome!

If the price difference isn’t a big enough shock to you, consider the storage capacity increased this much, yet the form factor of the SD card has not changed.

Lexard 1TB SD Card

This new Lexar card is a Class 10 device with transfer speeds over 95MB per second. Ideal for newer cameras capturing video in 4K.
Lexard 1TB SD Card

About Lexar:

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Satechi USB-C Hub for New 2018 iPad

Satechi, a company based in San Diego California unveils a new USB hub for the 2018 iPad Pro.

Designed specifically for 2018 iPad Pro to conveniently access peripheral devices while on the go.

Satechi USB hub

Featuring stunning 4K 30Hz HDMI display (2K 60Hz limitation for iPad Pro), USB-C PD 3.0 charging, USB 3.0 (up to 5 Gb/s) and 3.5mm headphone jack, all over a single USB-C connection. The USB 3.0 socket is the only USB port which transmits data, the USB-C socket sends only power. It’s worth noting the power features USB-C Power Delivery 3.0 charging, so it will deliver optimal power to the connected device while your iPad is churning through 4K video on some other application.

The hub is well designed an in-line with Apple’s design standards. This isn’t a chunking add on to your new iPad.

Satechi is offering the USB hub at $59 and you have the option of two colors while ordering: Silver or Space Grey.

Satechi USB hub
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USB Two Factor Authentication Dongle

Yubico YubiKey 4 appears to be an excellent device for a two-factor authentication solution. Two factor authentication means you need two things before gaining access. In this case, one piece of information is your password and the other piece is your finger print.

If you are using a password manager right now, (ie. Last Pass, Dashlane, etc) I would recommend getting this. The benefit of this device with a password manager is you can enable two factor authentication to add a new device capable of signing into your account.

YubiKey

This means if someone knows your password, it doesn’t really matter because they would also need your finger print. Understand that nearly all password managers conform to some sort of security protocol like FIDO U2F, smart card (PIV), OpenPGP, etc which in turn works with Yubikey.

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Why is my USB name always CAPS?

Why is my USB name always CAPS?

The reason is fairly simple. You also have the option to make your USB name or USB volume name upper and lower case.

The all CAPS of a USB name is due to your flash drive being formatted as FAT or FAT32. Windows will not allow FAT or FAT32 devices to use lower case letters.

To use lower case letters, or upper and lower case letters, simply format the drive as exFAT or NTFS. Note; we do not recommend formatting a USB as NTFS … so better to stick with exFAT.

Here are some screen shots to help better understand exactly what to do.

# Right click your USB drive letter, select Format, and do as the images below show

USB name all CAPS

##

USB name upper lower case
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A Flash Drive, an Ex Marine and Russia

Update: June 15, 2020

Paul Whelan was sentenced to 16 years in jail for espionage against the United States. As stated in the original post, and IT professional who cannot access “photos” on a flash drive, which was his cover for trading information, is a red flag something was going on.

Update: Feb 3, 2019

“I want to tell the world that I am a victim of political kidnap and ransom,” Whelan said during a press conference in May. “This is retaliation for sanctions.”

“…There are abuses and harassment that I am constantly subject to. There is a case for isolation,” he continued, before listing alleged abuses committed by prison staff.

The former Marine said that he was being subjected to “typical POW Chapter 1 isolation” techniques to run him down and described his imprisonment as the “Salem witch trial mentality.”

According to Reuters, Paul made a direct plea to the President of the United States saying; “Mr president [Trump], we cannot keep America great unless we aggressively protect and defend American citizens wherever they are in the world.” And this is very true.

It’s not every day we see “flash drive” in the headlines in association with espionage. However, it appears American citizen, Paul Whelan, was arrested in Russia for the charge of espionage.

Gathering information from the news surrounding this situation, Mr. Whelan is an ex-Marine who visits Russia. He is a world traveler, a security expert for a US based auto parts supplier [BorgWarner], speaks Russian and uses a Russian social media platform called VKontakte, or VK.

From reports, the arrest happened like this: Whelan met up with a Russian associate who gave him a flash drive. Earlier in the visit, Whelan claims he received digital images from his vacation through his computer, but could not view them on his computer. Because of this, he asked the photos be placed on a flash drive.

Moments after the two met and exchanged the flash drive, the Russian policy arrested Paul and found state secrets on the USB drive.

plug flash drive into computer

Whelan claims he knew nothing of the information on the flash drive and was only expecting to see pictures of his vacation. I certainly hope this is the case, and I certainly hope Paul Whelan gets his chance to prove his innocents.

Some back ground information for Paul Whelan includes:

He served 14 years in the US Marine Corps Reserve until he was discharged for bad conduct in 2008.

His discharge was due to being convicted of trying to steal $10,410 in US currency. He was accused of wrongfully using another person’s Social Security number and writing bad checks. Hey, we all do dumb things when we are young.

Playing devil’s advocate, my only concern is a security IT guy not being able to open pictures? Regardless of the picture file format, shouldn’t be that hard. Maybe goes to show you to only use write protected USB sticks when traveling to another country. You never know what could happen.

Souces: CNN and GetUSB.info

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Chromebook Gets a USBGuard

Anyone in tech has seen the reports and news about USB sticks with a virus ruined a company network or infect computers.  Google built a small and affective feature into their latest Chromebooks.

USBGuard, Chromebook

The USBGuard is a feature which blocks interaction between the mass storage device and the Chrome operating system.  The OS will give power to the device, but not let data transmit.

The USBGuard blocks this activity when the Chromebook is in locked mode.  When the Chromebook is not in lock mode, the USB will interact as expected as a read/write device.

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USB Condom – Power But No Data

For those in a situation where you plug devices into unknown USB ports, a USB data blocker is a good thing to have around. Or some call it the USB condom!

This is a physical device that sits between the USB host connection and your device. The data blocker enables the power pings of a USB socket, but not the data lines. This means your device will get the power it needs, but without the possibility of infection via data transfers.

For example, if you are at a client’s office and need to connect your device to a USB port and don’t want to risk anything, use the USB data blocker. You’ll get the power, but without the risk of spreading or getting a virus.

USB condom

Not much use for those who surround themselves with a trusted environment, but for those on the move, I think it’s a great product.

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Snap Power USB Charger

You know a product is a great idea when a couple of pictures describe the entire product. With that in mind, we’ve all seen wall outlet USB charges, but the Snap Power, in my opinion, will rule them all. The design is clever. Installation is ultra-easy. Accessibility supersedes all others. Take a second and just look at it: In my mind there are three things which make this a brilliant wall charger. If you don’t mind me walking you through the obvious, here we go. Or skip the highlights and jump right over to their website: The design is brilliant. The User keeps both outlets available for normal use while a sleek looking USB port is added underneath. At the time of this article there is one USB socket, but visiting their website you can see two sockets, one on either side. They are constantly improving. Installation is very easy. Simply unscrew your current face-plate and replace it with Continue Reading

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