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USB Thumb Drive Awareness

Life Lesson: Don’t put personal or work data on a USB thumb drive unless you make damn sure that information is encrypted.

Did you know that globally over 20+ million USB flash drives are lost every year.

The BAD:

* Cannot recommend USB drives with built in hardware security, as they too are vulnerable and have been circumvented…repeatedly.  (Aka: SanDisk, Kingston, Toshiba...ect)
* Thumb drive out of sight? Then assume someone has physical access to it.
* Deleting a file only removes headers to the file, that file is still there until something overwrites those areas with new data.
* Quick formatting also only removes the file headers, files can still easily be recovered.
* NEVER USE THE FAT ALLOCATION TABLE, it is legacy flawed and cannot be repaired & will not be repaired and a majority of USB Thumb Drives use this format as default out of the package.
* Still using the autorun feature, turn it the fuck off.

The Not so BAD:

* Run truecrypt software on everything; HDD, Removable HDD, USB Hard Drives BUT especially USB Thumb drives as you are more likely to carry them and lose them.
* Deny access to the hardware, sometimes difficult if you just happen to drop the thumb drive in a parking lot... shit happens to even the best of people.
* Use Eraser or File Shredder programs to truly delete files (This applies to Hard Drives as well)
* Don't use them, alternatives are cloud storage and yes this brings up all sort of other issues... you are encrypting your cloud storage, Right!

Why is this important and how did all this USB Thumb Drive stuff come about?

It all started when I found the remains of a USB thumb drive in a rain puddle of a local parking lot and figured it would make an interesting repair project to see if I could actually get it working.  Ehh! it's a challenge.

1. Here is what I found... no too bad, far better then some I have seen.


2. It has been run over skewing the Flash Ram, pulling up some pads and traces in the process too. Been outside for awhile, long enough for a critter to hatch a baby on it anyway.


3. Crystal is trash and parts knocked off, fair amount of corrosion on both sides of the board.


4. Heated and pulled off board parts, started cleaning up pcb traces.


5. Replaced missing parts, made the needed repairs to damaged traces and added USB cord connection.


6. This shows the wire route... nothing spectacluar it should just work for the time needed for data collection.


7. The U4 IC pin was corroded so when I placed the tip of the soldering iron onto it, off it came. Again, no problem. I just grabbed the xacto knife and pelled back some of the plastic to expose the pin and a quick tack of solder should do the trick. But will it work?


8. and we have a BINGO!  I won't go into what was stored on the device, except to say YES IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ENCRYPTED.  What can you say, people are lazy, don't care or don't know any better, or YES all the above. Anyways!?!?!


9. All these USB Thumb Drives seem to use the Silicon Motions Flash Controller Chips. So, heading over to the mfg's website and we can grab some software tools to look at settings up the USB Drive Internally. WOW! lots of options and very flexible hardware/firmware setup I'm actually rather impressed with what you can do with these things now.  They should offer some real end user tools like this.


10. Anyway, lots of fun was had and my tech skills are still around a  B-.  I've pulled everything off I want to keep and now ready for some delamination fun.


11. A little FeCL3 (Ferric Chloride) should do the trick.


12. and presto magik Bobs Your Uncle it's all gone. I snapped the chip even though I used the mfg's software tools to shred the crap out of that Samsung Flash Chip internally.


13. Moral of this story, if you are gonna carry 'any' storage device around... Encrypt..encrypt..EnCrYpT..tPyRcNe..
oh yeah and USB Thumb Drives are ticking time bombs, sooner or later every encryption falls. So, just try to be aware of what you are loading onto them when you drop it in your purse, pants pocket or backpack. If you don't need to have those copies of XYZ documents because you are finished needing them, remove them off the thumb drive.

usb lot

BTW, don't be a dick. The person that dropped this did so by mistake and the things I did to get it running are just slightly above average. They fucked up, I'm glad I was the one that found it and not some jackass.

So Yeah, please ENCRYPT your stuff.

* Read about what happen to the ARMY and how the (Thumb Drive Awareness TIA TDA 3400) program came into play.

* http://www.truecrypt.org/docs/?s=truecrypt-portable

* http://www.anewmorning.com/2008/10/06/how-to-create-the-ultimate-encrypted-flash-drive

# # # #

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