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Posts Tagged ‘flash drive’

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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ECCN and HS Code for USB Flash Drives

When importing or exporting USB flash drives in the United States you will want to use these ECCN and HS Codes to help with customs paperwork. The ECCN Code for a USB flash drive is:  EAR99 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. HS Code is the  “Harmonized System” which is a 6-digit standardized numerical method of classifying traded products developed and maintained by the World Customs Organization.  The Harmonized System system (HS) forms the basis of all countries’ tariff Schedule all over the world.  Or it helps countries asses value to a product in a standardized way and by definitions all countries can agree and interpret. Continue Reading

Mysterious USB Ports Show Up In NYC

A New York artist names Aram Bartholl is trying a very daring, if not crazy, art exhibit by placing USB sticks throughout New York City.  The idea is for others to share their digital life, secrets, information with others to bridge the life of digital information with that of the physical world.  So what exactly do you do?

USB in wall

Aram has placed a small collection of USB ports in public places thinking that others will connect their laptop or computer to the USB port and upload or download data to share.  I bit crazy if you ask me…you know how many viruses and key logging programs one could get?  Even with virus checking software – there are sophisticated attacks you could expose yourself too.  BUT, if you dare, connect! Currently the installation is only a five-stick preview, but Bartholl is planning to expand the operation to more sticks and more cities. Check Bartholl’s blog for coming information including “full documentation, movie, map, and ‘How to make your own dead drop’ manual coming soon!”

USB in New York

Aram – you should use USB Write Protected flash drives and share controlled data so that you’re exhibit doesn’t kill computers!  Maybe provide an upload link where you can control the data, then put the data on flash drives and write protect the stick.  Don’t know how – contact us, we’ll show you. Continue Reading

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