Sharing Sensitive Documents With a Third Party

You have a document, video or audio file with sensitive information on it and you need to send a copy to a third party. What options should you consider?

Three options come to mind: email, Dropbox or flash drive.

Sending an email is basically the same thing as sending a postcard. While there are efforts one can use to change this, email remains pretty wide open. This is true and scary; anyone who wants to read your email (not just the NSA) can read your email.

Most times you can send sensitive documents through email and nothing will happen. However; you are playing Russian roulette (almost literally, given the recent theft of 1.2 billion email account credentials by a Russian gang) with the security of that transmission. Remember, the topic of this post is about sharing sensitive data with a third party.

The next logical step would encrypting the email (or files) attached in the email. Encryption is a good option and certainly more secure than sending the email without encryption. You could run into a file size limitation though. Most videos will be larger than a 20MB, which is (generally) the maximum file size one could attached in an email. Encryption is a good next step, but there is a bigger issue at hand than file size. More about that in a few.

Dropbox is next on our list of most obvious options to share sensitive data with a third party. Dropbox is a great option when you have larger files. With Dropbox you could upload those big audio or video files and provide a download link for your recipient. Dropbox doesn’t encrypt your data by default so there is some exposure there. A quick and relatively safe method to encrypt your files using Windows would be compressing the video into a zip file and assigning it a password. Encrypting the data will provide that extra layer of security. As with an encrypted email, the encrypted Dropbox alternative also has a major flaw.

Ask yourself, “Do you trust the recipient?”

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Home Office Mini USB Flash Drive Duplicator

Today, more than ever, people are working from the home office. Working in a comfortable environment is nice and can be very productive. However; sometimes the home office doesn’t have the same computer equipment or gear to do the jobs needed. With many organizations who are practicing social distancing, or building a work community of remote offices, one will find certain items are still needed.

Let us look at a simple way to make USB copies at the home office. For example, let us think about an IT manager who needs to roll out restore installation packages, or a software developer who is required to deploy software updates to a group of remote users. This IT manager or software developer needs a quick, easy and inexpensive piece of equipment to do the job.

The mini-sized USB flash drive duplicator by Nexcopy is a great solution for this exact problem. The unit pictured below is 6″ long and 4″ wide. So it will fit into any briefcase (if those are used anymore) and light as a book.

The USB duplicator allocates one socket for the master device and four sockets for the target devices. The duplicator is a binary copier and will copy any file format or file system connected to it. The duplicator is powered through a USB cable and is ideal for any sized USB flash drive.

With a duplicator like this, making copies at the home office is very quick and very easy. The duplicator works with a single push of a single button. 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. So the USB flash drives can be delivered with the utmost confidence each copy is working and an exact digital copy of the master.

Flipping through the features of the duplicator, we have some other bullet points worth mentioning:

  • 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
  • Firmware upgradeable

So how much will this mini USB duplicator benefit a home office employee? The easiest way to determine this is asking ourselves how much time the duplicator will save. This mini system, called the Nexcopy USB104SA will copy one GB of data to each device in about one minute. That is ultra-fast. So if the IT manager or software engineer had to data load a 12 GB data set, it would take about twelve minutes to make four copies. There is now way Windows could copy data that fast to four sticks. When using the copy and compare mode it takes a bit longer… about 1.5 minutes per GB. So still incredibly quick.

There are a couple of features listed above one may not be familiar with, so let’s review. The quick erase or full erase is a scrub method to remove all data from the USB flash drive. This is a nice feature to guarantee data is removed from the USB with no chance of the data being recovered. Formatting a drive doesn’t remove data, but erase will. The quick erase will scrub certain portions of the drive so some data could remain, but most likely corrupted and unable to recover. The full erase function will randomly write binary zero and one data to the entire memory of the flash drive. By doing this random write sequence, it would be impossible for even the most sophisticated forensics recover software to restore data from the device.

The four language modes include English, Spanish, Portuguese and Simplified Chinese.

The USB benchmark speed is a great tool to figure out the quality of media one is using. This is particularly important when dealing with promotional quality media, as promo memory is very instable. 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 CRC verification method is Cyclical Redundancy Check verification method and is most reliable for NAND memory. Probably best to search for CRC verification for a complete understanding of this protocol.

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.

The USB104SA has a manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of $399 USD.

Source: GetUSB.info

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Toshiba Cuts Flash Memory Output

Toshiba Corp. said Tuesday it has slashed production of NAND flash memory for use in USB drives and memory cards by about 30 percent at its plant in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture. It’s the first output cut for the device in about three years. The electronics maker aims to work off inventory and see a recovery in the market amid falling prices for the memory devices due to oversupply. Toshiba last reduced production of NAND flash memories after the 2009 financial crisis touched off a global economic downturn. Continue Reading

19nm Process from Toshiba to Shrink 128Gbit Memory

Toshiba announced this morning of mass production in 128Gbit NAND flash memory with three-bits-per-cell storage in 19nm process. What this means is more storage space in a smaller area. The 128Gbit memory is only 170mm square. The reduced size implies cost of manufacturing will go down, efficiency will go up. The down side is the TLC or three bit per cell, is less stable then two bits per cell like MLC or multi layer cell technology. This isn’t a big concern for most users as the TLC flash will go into less important devices like USB flashdrives, MP3 players, phones and other hand held devices. The more crucial technologies will remain with SLC or single layer cell or MLC, multi layer cell memory. Toshiba and SanDisk share research and development and jointly invest in manufacturing. Continue Reading

CEO of Micron Technology Steve Appleton Dies

The head of memory chip maker Micron Technology died last week in a stunt piloting expedition. Steve was in a small kit plane and taking a steep bank turn when something went wrong with the plane and ultimately crashed. Micron is a world leader in flash memory technology, and a top brand we favor here.  Micron makes memory for various devices like computers, cell phones, cameras, cars and industrial application products.
“Zoe Keliher, air investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said the crash happened during Appleton’s second attempt to fly that morning. She said Appleton’s first take-off ended abruptly — witnesses said the plane only got about 5 feet (1.5 meters) off the ground — when he landed and returned to a hangar for about five minutes.”  Source – Associated Press.
Dan Francisco, the company COO, is taking responsibility until the Micron board of directors finds a suitable replacement Chief Executive Office. Continue Reading

XQD Is A New Compact Flash Specification

The Compact Flash Association introduced a new standard recently.  The standard was release because CF media continues to get press from high performing SD cards where most camera manufacturers are favoring.  I suspect the SD format is more inviting because of the smaller form factor.  Well this is where the XQD spec address’ that issue.

Key features of the XQD format include: a 38.5mm by 29.9mm by 3.8mm optimized size format, greater durability, scalable high performance interface, based on PCI Express 2.5Gbps today and 5Gbps in the future (instead of PCMCIA used by SD cards), and actual write speed targets of 125MB/sec and higher.
“The XQD format will enable further evolution of hardware and imaging applications, and widen the memory card options available to CompactFlash users such as professional photographers,”
said Shigeto Kanda CFA chairman and Canon executive. Licensing for CFA members will start in early 2012, and no camera makers have announced plans to use the format yet. Continue Reading

Power Outage At Toshiba Could Spell Flash Shortage

lightening buildingToday Toshiba announced a power outage at their plant in Yokkaichi.  Toshiba claims the power will be restored by Friday Dec 12th 2010.  There where no details about the outage, but it could have an effect on flash memory in Jan/Feb of 2011. Toshiba estimates that up to 20% of their production schedule will be effected by the power problem. Seems a little suspicious as prices for flash continue to decline, but that’s just my conspericy theory coming out. Apple could be the biggest customer effected by the problem as they use Toshiba for most of their MacBook Air SSD component.  However, Electronista reports that Apple has other suppliers such as Samsung, Hynix and even Intel. From what we know, Apple has a dual source policy program for events just like this. Source:  Electronista. Continue Reading

The Flash Tide Is Rising

If you haven’t noticed the shift yet, there is no doubt you’ll see it in 2011.  We are talking about the shift from disk drive storage to solid state storage.  Sure we’ve heard netbooks run off flash and some other high end laptops, but not until Steve Jobs announced their new MacBook will be all flash did we notice the tide beginning to change.

MacBook Air Flash Drive

I’m not glorify Steve Jobs as the man who saw this coming, no, but understanding that Apple is the largest consumer of flash memory in the world – puts a different perspective on things. Apple will single hand drive the consumer PC market away from disk drives to flash chips as their hard drives.  Apple will do this in two steps.  Step 1:  Pass along their great discounts they undoubtedly get as being the largest consumer and Step 2:  Decreasing boot time when the MacBooks are powered on. We all curse at our PC during boot up because it just doesn’t happen fast enough.  Folks who have iPads have already had the “crack” and are addicted.  This will spread with the advent of flash in the MacBooks.  This will undoubtedly challenge Windows competitors to equal the performance levels. The Wall Street Journal did a more pragmatic approach to the subject if you’re looking for numbers and details.  Check here. Continue Reading

32GB microSD Card From SanDisk

Lets start the clock ticking for when microSD media will take over the world for flash storage.

I am still amazed at the small size of the microSD media and it’s expansive ability to keep growing in GB capacity.  Today SanDisk is officially selling the 32GB version of their microSD card.  Sure, it’s $200 USD but when you are an overseas airplane ride and need hours and hours of video content to stream through your 3 inch screen, this will be very handy.  I will forget the fact that a DVD player is less than that…but we’re talking cool factor here.

The new 32GB card makes use of SanDisk’s three-bit-per-cell storage technology and is able to hold around 7,000 songs.  That translates into 19 solid days of listenting to music, without break, 24/7. So forget the $200 price tag and maybe you can be lucky like me and find a microSD card, 2GB capacity for $3 off Amazon.com. Continue Reading 2 Comments

45 Port CF Duplicator From Nexcopy

Nexcopy Corporation released a new line of flash memory duplication systems, the CF Duplicator 150PC, 300PC and 450PC.  These PC based systems are ideal for doing bulk data loading to Compact Flash cards.

CF Duplicator

Nexcopy has some unique features to make any data loading job a breeze.  For example, you can put unique files to each CF card through their Unique Data Copy function.  Or a user can easily copy bootable Compact Flash cards by using the bit for bit Short Image copy function.  The Short Image copy function means only the data clusters used on the CF card will be copied to the target devices…rather than the entire thing. However, Nexcopy also provides a Full Image copy function if that is required.  I’m thinking this would be good for Ext2 or Ext3 Linux formats where there are potential files that could be in any sector of the CF media. Nexcopy Inc.  CF Duplicator line starts out with the CF150PC at $1,200 with an upgrade path to the 30 port and 45 port systems.  So the CF Duplicator is modular in design. Nexcopy also mentions a user can mix and match duplicator boxes, so you could now copy to SD media, CF media and USB sticks all through one software interface, and at the same time!  Not bad. You can learn more by visiting the product page: CF Duplicator by Nexcopy. https://www.nexcopy.com/cf-duplicator/ Source: GetUSB.info. Continue Reading

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