Write Protected Flash Drive Can Be Unlocked – New Twist On Familiar Technology

Nexcopy turns the market on it’s head with the Lock License flash drive. A flash drive which is by default a read-only or write protected device. The device will accept a user password to unlock the drive through Nexcopy’s Lock License utility software. This new approach gives the power back to the user for when a USB is writable.

“The fundamental change towards how our flash drive works should draw attention for those looking for read-only USB flash drives” says Greg Morris, CEO of Nexcopy Inc. “What is unique about the Lock License approach is whenever power is cut to the device, for example disconnection, the USB is automatically write protected. This is the strongest first line defense against malicious software or virus jumping onto a flash drive without the user knowing. It is impossible to infect a USB drive if the device is write protected.”

Lock License flash drives require a password upon first use. This password is used to unlock the write protection and make the USB a read/write device. This feature provides a personalized solution for each business which uses the Lock License technology. There is no need to set the write protection after being unlocked because simply cutting power to the device will put the USB into its default state: A read-only device.

The Nexcopy Lock License write protect USB flash drive has the following features:

  • Default state of drive is read-only, a.k.a write protected
  • User assigned password to remove write protection
  • No password is required to read from the drive, acts as normal WORM device
  • Graphical User Interface (GUI) to set password and remove write protection
  • Command line utility for custom integration to remove write protection
  • No back door password or feature from Nexcopy to unlock the drive
  • Available in USB 2.0 and 3.0 technology and ranging from 2GB through 128GB capacities

Stan McCrosky, head of Sales, comments, “System Control manufacturers for waterworks, electrical utility and petroleum companies need a solution like this. The ability to load software or firmware to a hardware based USB read-only device gives system control companies an incredible amount of security for in-field deployment via USB. More importantly, the command line utility gives the manufacturers a secure way to unlock the drive and update the content remotely without the worry of the drive remaining read/write. It’s simply impossible for the drive to remain writable.” McCrosky concludes.

The Lock License USB flash drive is simple to implement. Steps include:

  • Connect USB to a Windows computer
  • Open either GUI or command line utility to remove write protection
  • Assign a password to be used when removing the write protection
  • Data load the drive as needed
  • Eject drive from computer once copy process is complete
  • At this point the USB is write protected at the hardware controller level
  • The Lock License drive can be read (used) by any device on any platform
  • Password not required to read data from the drive
  • Password is only used when removing write protection to make the USB read/write

Nexcopy Lock License media is available in USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 technology and range it capacity from 2GB through 128GB. Nexcopy offers six body styles for the Lock License media with a wide range of body colors available for each stye, all available for custom branding. The six body styles include Oxford; a capless swivel style drive. Newport; a classic rectangular shape with cap. Lexington; a classic rectangular style with rounded edges and cap. Augusta; a shorter style drive with large lanyard loop. Huntington and Geneva which uses an aluminum body for more durability and also better suited for laser etch branding.

The Oxford style swivel drive is the in stock media Nexcopy carries for same day printing and shipping. Nexcopy inventories USB 2.0 media of 2GB and 4GB capacity and in stock USB 3.0 media of 8GB, 16GB, 32Gb, 64GB and 128GB capacities. The in stock Oxford media is a black body with white swivel clip with full color printing via the Nexcopy Logo-EZ USB flash drive printer.

The Lock License utility is available for download off the Nexcopy support page. The utility requires a Nexcopy licensed USB flash drive. The Lock License USB write protection is not a universal solution for any thumb drive, a Nexcopy drive is required in order to take advantage of the increased security the technology offers.

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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

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