Items tagged with USB

What do you usually find in your mailbox? Love letters? Bills? People in Victoria, Australia are finding malware-laden USB drives in their mailboxes, or “letterboxes” as they are called down under. The Victoria police warned citizens about the malicious USB drives, stating, “The USB drives are believed to be extremely harmful and members of the public are urged to avoid plugging them into their computers or other devices.” Once the USB drives are plugged into a computer, they load a fake media streaming service as and create some “serious issues” for users. It is unclear what exactly is on the... Read more...
The USB port is one of the most influential and important inventions of the modern computing era, but like just about anything that's innovative and pervasive, there's usually potential to do harm as well. Need proof of that? Check out the USB Kill, a sly little USB stick that's capable of frying just about any consumer or commercial device with a USB port in a matter of seconds. There's no complex coding required or anything of that nature—you just plug the USB Kill into a USB port and moments later, ZAP!, the system is dead. The latest version of this device, USB Kill 2.0, purports... Read more...
Thumb drive makers have managed to cram quite a bit into the pinky-sized drives, but there are limits to capacity and to some degree performance, since there is only so much room to work with. Fortunately, there is a nice middle ground between thumb drives and larger external SSDs that conform to the popular 2.5" form factor. EMTEC, for example, has a new line of external SSDs that use a 1.8" form factor, which offer respectable read speeds, although they won't win any performance contests versus more expensive drives. The EMTEC Speedin' X600 is a USB 3.0-compatible drive available in... Read more...
New York City’s subways have a terrible reputation. Any television show featured in NYC seems to dedicate at least one episode to the notorious transportation system. But New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo is looking to shed that image, and just unveiled a new design for the subway system which includes Wi-Fi, USB Ports, and LCD displays. The governor plans to release 1,025 subway cars and renovate 31 subway stations. These innovations and renovations are part of $27 billion USD, five-year plan by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to renew and expand the subway network. The MTA is... Read more...
Samsung leveraged its extensive NAND flash and storage IP and took aim at the high-performance portable storage market last year when it launched its impressive Portable SSD T1 external drive. There are countless portable flash drives and a multitude of external storage enclosures on the market that can house any standard 2.5” SSD. However, the Samsung Portable SSD T1 was something a little bit different. The T1 was somewhat of a tweener product that was significantly lighter and more compact than a typical external back-up drive, while offering performance closer to an internally-connected SSD.... Read more...
As we discovered just the other day, Apple's latest iPad, Pro, isn't too repairable, scoring just 3 out of 10 on iFixit's scale - 10 being the best. Somewhat humorously, that's still a lot better the 1 out of 10 score the Surface Book received earlier this month. Nonetheless, the teardown helped highlight a feature Apple kept mum on: a USB 3.0-compatible Lightning port. That means that with the right cable, users would be able to enjoy transfer speeds going through a 5Gbps bus. That's theoretically ~625MB/s peak, but more accurately would top out at around 500MB/s in the real-world thanks to overhead.... Read more...
Thunderbolt (and its Thunderbolt 2 successor) is a technically impressive high-speed data standard. Thunderbolt offers maximum bandwidth of 10Gbps while, Thunderbolt 2 doubled that to 20Gbps. However, the standard, which is used for everything from hyper-fast external storage solutions to external graphics cards, has been slow to take off. You can blame the high-priced Thunderbolt peripherals and the uber-expensive cables (at last when compared to your garden variety USB cables). For most people, USB 3.0 is “good enough” and making a huge investment into the Thunderbolt ecosystem has been reserved... Read more...
When they first came out, solid state drives were cost prohibitive for many people and they remained that way until NAND flash memory prices came crashing down like the careers of every actor on "The Celebrity Apprentice." Now not only are SSDs affordable, they're comparatively capacious and much faster than many of the older models, and as a result they've barged into the mainstream market -- that laptop your Aunt Ethel bought from Best Buy could be rocking an SSD. Save for when massive amounts of cheap storage space is needed, SSDs have effectively (and finally) begun to replace HDDs, which is... Read more...
MHL connectors have enabled advanced smartphones to both receive a charge as well as transmit 1080p video through the same USB cable for some time now, but as ever, technological progress is pushing things a bit more. This week, MHL has developed an Alternate Mode for the USB Type-C specification, which enables it to support 4K video, multi-channel surround sound audio, HDCP 2.2 and is backward compatible with existing versions of the MHL specification. “The USB Type-C cable and connector is designed to be a long-lasting, robust solution that is ideal for all platforms and devices,”... Read more...
In the summer, we learned of a severe issue that plagues a countless number of USB devices, tying into an exploit later called "BadUSB". Thanks to the efforts of Karsten Nohl, chief scientist at SR Labs, it was exposed that the firmware on many USB devices could easily be reprogrammed; the level of security on them turns out to be minimal, or non-existent. Firmware is effectively the brain of a USB device, so if it can be reprogrammed, it doesn't take much imagination to understand what could happen. While Nohl has an exploit that demonstrates the issue, he's refused to release it to the public,... Read more...
Another day, another report of a potential hack that could cause some real trouble. Researchers at Berlin's SR Labs have discovered that firmware can be rewritten on any sort of USB device, be it a keyboard, a mouse, or a flash drive, and exploits could involve logging keystrokes, eavesdropping on communications, and a virus favorite, destroying data. What's concerning about all of this is that SR Labs says that such an implementation would be invisible to anti-malware and anti-virus tools, as those don't scan at such a low-level - this firmware would be also helping the device function, after... Read more...
A recent death that may have been caused by a faulty USB charger has prompted Australia's Fair Trading Commissioner, Rod Stowe, to issue a warning to consumers about the potentially fatal risk of using non-compliant or otherwise unapproved USB style charges. These are typically cheap knock-offs that can find at discounted sites and on eBay. They can also be found in local stores. Stowe said that Fair Trading investigators recently removed a bunch of unapproved and non-compliant USB chargers, travel adapters, and power boards at a mobile phone accessory shop at a Campsie area. The person running... Read more...
Apple has worked hard to deliver synchronized data across all of your iDevices with iCloud, but for those who aren’t so keen on trusting the cloud with their data, there’s a device coming called the iStick that allows you to transfer files locally. Yes, it’s a USB flash drive (nothing interesting there)--however, it also has an integrated Lightning connector (ah, there we go). iStick HYPER (by Sanho), the company behind the iStick, says that it’s currently the only USB flash drive with Apple’s proprietary connector, and it works with iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch... Read more...
It's tough to say when, or if, the heralded USB port will ever be truly replaced in the eyes of the masses. But Thunderbolt is sure working towards becoming a great secondary option, if not an outright replacement in time. At this year's NAB Show in Las Vegas, Intel announced Thunderbolt 2. It's the latest edition of the high-speed transfer protocol, with a bandwidth boost up to 20Gbps. Moreover, there's the addition of Thunderbolt Networking, which effectively acts as a crossover cable in order to allow two computers to directly connect and share information over a high-speed superhighway. Thunderbolt... Read more...
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