Tag: usb

Entry level storage continues to fall

EMC storagePersonal and entry level storage shipments fell 13.4 percent in the third quarter, according to a survey by IDC.

And shipment values fell by 19.8 percent in the quarter, compared to the same quarter in 2014, amounting to $1.3 billion.

IDC differentiates between personal storage and entry level storage, and said personal storage accounts for over 98 ercent of the market.

Most shipments had 1TB and 2TB capacity, accounting for 75 percent of the personal storage market.

USB is still the most popular choice in the market while ethernet products showed a large decline in the last four quarters.

Top dog in the market is Western Digital with 31.2 percent of the market, followed by Seagate (25.9 percent) and Toshiba (18.2) percent.

Personal storage market continues to fall

IBM storage circa 1968Personal and entry level storage shipments fell by 9.7 percent during the second quarter of this year, amounting to sales of 15.1 million units worldwide.

And, according to figures from IDC, shipment values also fell, showing a decline of 16.1 percent compared to the same quarter in 2015, and worth $1.2 billion.

IDC defines this sector as storage products with one to 12 bay configurations intended for people, small offices and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

IDC said that entry level storage is now a mature market, with competition from cloud offerings taking their toll.

Personal storage devices haven’t been able to show big market share gains over the past two years, but hard drive vendors continued to increase their share and now amount to 79.5 percent of al the units shifts.

Ethernet offerings are in decline and USB connections dominate the sector, said IDC.

Cloud hits storage market

Cumulus clouds - Wikimedia CommonsPersonal and entry level storage shipments fell in the first quarter of this year by 6.4 percent – with 17.6 million units shifts.

According to market research company IDC, the size of the market hasn’t changed that much for the last two years, but the decline is due to people using public clouds and because there’s a change in the way people use media.

Jingwen Li, an analyst at IDG, said that while this sector has shown a decline, there are growth opportunities, particularly for personal and entry level NAS units.

Even though the overall market showed a decline, dual interface products grew by 56.7 percent year on year. This sector consists of USB-Thunderbolt and USB-WiFi products.

An IDC chart shows the way things have changed in this market, which is still worth a great deal of money.

Storage market Q1 2015

Intel announces Bay Trail tablet CPU: Part One

Wednesday’s IDF Keynote started by asking the audience to stand for a moment of silence in remembrance of lives lost on 9-11 in 2001. From there, it was business as usual with product hype and promises of future success.

Intel seems to be spotlighting health. It opened with a feel-good video of Jack Andraka, child prodigy and biology whiz. Andraka is a high school sophomore who won the youth achievement Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award in December 2012 for inventing a new method to detect a lethal form of pancreatic cancer.

From there, Intel moved into its theme of “The Internet of Things.” One thing that aroused curiosity was a dull white plastic wristband on every seat. It became an attention-getter later in the programme. In the meantime, everyone got a shot at the podium to talk about their pet project.

Doug Fisher, VP General Manager Software and Services Group, gave a few brief remarks, then introduced Dr. Herman Eul, VP General Manager Mobile and Communications Group. He started off with a video about MTV and Intel getting together to improve the audience’s experience because they do not really understand how wireless works, and what are its limitations.

Eul said the goal is to make the mobile platform smarter, the CPU more powerful, and the imaging performance better. He did a brief introduction of “Bay Trail,” the next-generation Atom Z3000 ,  focusing on it being used as a gaming platform. He showed that it is capable of running Windows – which is called heavy legacy software – or running Android OS, Apple OS, Chrome OS, or Linux OS. Bay Trail is a 64-bit processor, built using Intel’s Silvermont 22nm micro-architecture. There will be six variants of the chip available – with dual and quad-core configurations. Clock speeds will range from 1.8GHz to 2.4GHz.

Bay Trail’s Hardware and Software supports:  

  • Windows (32/64-bit) and/or Android and/or Chrome
  • Displays resolutions up to 2500 x 1600 (Retina display)
  • Dual independent displays
  • Intel Wireless Display (WiDi) technology
  • Up to 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM
  • USB 3, HDMI, Displayport, SD card, NFC, 4G, Wi-Fi, GPS
  • X 11, Open GL 3.0 graphics
  • Up to 13MP camera on the rear with Zero shutter lag, burst mode, digital video stabilization, 1080p recording at 60FPS and up to 2MP on the front.

Eul then brought Victoria Molina on stage, a fashion industry consultant and former executive for Ralph Lauren, Levi’s, and the Gap, who explained her virtual shopping experience application. They developed it using the Intel Android SDK in about a week  – but gave no information on the experience level of their programmers.

Molina said the most important part of this application is the fit map, an important factor in making the apparel attractive on the wearer, to attain a “cool” outcome. The application uses an avatar based around the person’s measurements, height and weight, and a facial photograph. The shopper goes out to the web site where they want to shop and chooses the clothing to virtually try on before purchasing. Next, the website pulls up sample clothing from their product lines.

After you build your ensemble of clothing, then you can adjust the clothing so the fit is tight, medium, or loose. After deciding on your look, you go through the “Cat Walk” show-n-tell process. That means the avatar is dressed with each one of the outfits in the size and drape you want and it looks like you are a model on a fashion show runway. Molina said, “This will revolutionise the online shopping experience. Because of the huge “cool factor”.

Next, Intel focused on a Bay Trail small-form-factor tablet running and editing videos. Eul invited Jerry Shen, chief executive of Asus, to introduce its T100, a 2-in-1 Bay Trail notebook with over ten hours of battery life. “We are very excited about the Bay Trail quad-core promise,” Shen said.

Asus is more optimistic than Intel regarding battery longevity. Intel claims Bay Trail tablets could weigh as little 14.1 ounces and offer more than eight hours of battery life when the users are watching high-definition video.

Neil Hand, Dell’s VP of Tablets, showed its  Venue 8-inch, Windows 8.1, Bay Trail tablet that is going to be shipping soon. He said it has 4G LTE.
Eul talked briefly about upcoming Merryfield, a 22nm SoC which is build on the Silvermont architecture specifically for smartphones. We were told that Airmont, a 14nm process engineering SoC with all the features of Bay Trail for tablets, is on schedule for Q3 2014 release.

Finally, Eul satisfied our curiosity by showing his audio DJ idea which activated those dull white plastic bracelets that were sitting on each chair. A video was projected onto the giant screens in the auditorium showing the Keynote audience and the wristbands lighting up in synch with Eul’s music.

The presentation took another turn with Kirk Skaugen, Senior VP General Manager PC Client Group at Intel which will be covered in part two.

3G, 4G USB modems wide open to attack

A couple of Russian security researchers have found that the majority of 3G and 4G USB modems handed out by mobile operators to unsuspecting customers are wide open to attacks.

Macworld Australia reports the researchers tested multiple 3G and 4G sticks obtained from Russian telcos over the past few months and concluded that they pose a serious security threat. Most USB modems are produced by Chinese hardware makers Huawei and ZTE, and they are sold across the world with different mobile operators’ stickers on top.

Sadly though, researchers Nikita Tarakanov and Oleg Kupreev could not test baseband attacks against Qualcomm chips used in the modems because in Putin’s Russia it is illegal to own your own GSM base station, unless you are an intelligence agency or a telecom operator. Since practically all Russian oligarchs, politicians and crime bosses have a KGB background, we are rather surprised to see this limitation enforced.

In other words, there is still a lot of research to be done, but Tarakanov and Kupreev have already managed to demonstrate multiple ways of attacking the modems through software flaws. Since many modems are identical, their software is very similar and it is possible to make an image of the modem’s file system, modify it and save it back on the modem.

Tarakanov said this is surprisingly easy to do using free tools available from Huawei and other manufacturers.

Malware can easily detect the type of modem used and hijack it with malicious customisations of the code. The configuration files, which are also found on the modem, are in plain text and they are easy to modify. Attackers can simply reroute traffic to their servers and redefine DNS servers used for the internet connection. They  can also tinker with custom configuration drives in such a way that the modems install malware instead of an antivirus program.

In addition, most modems are configured to automatically receive software updates from a single server. An attacker could potentially compromise the update server and take over heaps of modems handed out by multiple carriers.

Worse, Tarakanov said he did not even look for vulnerabilities in the actual modem drivers installed in the OS, but he is quite confident that they have vulnerabilities as well. 

Microsoft plugs USB hole

Software giant Microsoft has written a patch for a huge hole in Windows which allowed attackers to use USB-connected drives to take full control of a targeted computer.

Redmond has warned that fixing the vulnerability was important, rather than critical, because the hacker needs to have physical access to the computer being attacked.

This makes it hard for hacks to spread online, but it does make it possible to carpet bomb conferences or other gatherings with booby-trapped drives which infect those present with malware. It would be expensive, and fairly obvious, but it would be possible.

Where it would be more useful is for a spook who gains access to a building to nick corporate data or sabotage computer operations.

Stuxnet showed that the physical aspect of planting USB drives or having people to take these things into facilities, does work.

Microsoft wrote that the MS13-027 series of vulnerabilities can be exploited when a maliciously formatted USB drive is inserted in to a computer.

Windows drivers need to read a specially manipulated descriptor, and the system will execute attack code with the full permissions of the operating system kernel.

Microsoft Security Response Center researchers Josh Carlson and William Peteroy wrote in the company’s blog  that the vulnerability was triggered during device enumeration, no user intervention is required.

The vulnerability can be triggered when the workstation is locked or when no user is logged in, making this an un-authenticated elevation of privilege for an attacker with casual physical access to the machine.

Microsoft has closed a variety of security holes related to USB hard drives over the last few years. One of these was fixing the LNK file vulnerability that allowed Stuxnet to infect machines when a stick was plugged in.

Many company engineers have also redesigned the autorun feature that used to automatically open a window each time a removable drive was connected to stop future attacks on corporate networks.

MS13-027 is one of seven bulletins Microsoft issued as part of this month’s Patch Tuesday. 

Cubans face off government with USB sticks

The Cuban government’s strict censorship programmes are being wiped out by bloggers armed with USB sticks.

Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez said that “nothing is changing” in Cuba’s ossified political system and press freedom is still a joke.

But she took heart from the fact that underground blogs, digital portals and illicit e-magazines were thriving and were depending on memory sticks rather than the internet for delivery.

Thumb drives were offering a surprising number of Cubans access to information, Sanchez said.

According to McClatchy it is difficult for the government to intercept the memory sticks. Coppers cannot be put on every corner to see who has a flash drive.

Sanchez’s blog, Generation Y, is translated into more than 20 languages, and she has nearly 440,000 followers on her Twitter account.

She said that people who come into the sights of the Cuban regime led by Raul Castro were still being repressed in ways that “don’t leave fingerprints”.

Activists and independent journalists are detained on the street, pulled into cars without plates, pushed, threatened and questioned by civilians who never identify themselves, she said. Normally they are freed after a few hours.

She said that there had been no significant changes in Cuba to the model which kept Castro and his brother in power. Anything seen at the moment was just cosmetic and designed to keep them safe.

Cuba faces an exhaustion of the Castro system and is “on a countdown to what will occur”, whatever that means.

Right now,  internet controls are still tight. She estimates that only three percent of the country has an internet connection. The only sure way to get information to people is virally.

Not only is data shipped on USB drives but there are homemade TV dramas taped in their living rooms, she said.

She said that the power and ingenuity of the alternative media in distributing information in Cuba is incredible. This has forced the Castro government onto the defensive. 

Researchers create disposable paper USBs

Researchers at IntelliPaper have come up with a new type of flash drive which can be crumpled up and thrown in the bin.

The system is basically paper with an embedded silicon chip, which turns an ordinary strip of paper into a fully functioning USB drive.

The company plans to release USB-enabled note cards, called ‘DataNotes,’ in the middle of the year.

According to Gizmag, the paper used is about as thick as card stock, and the embedded chip can hold 8-32 MB of data.

Once it’s ripped from the full sheet and folded in half, the paper can be inserted into a USB drive.

Files can be added and removed like any other storage device, and the drive can be reused for as long as the paper and contacts remain intact, which, since it is paper, is not very long.

The team claims that it has not decided on a fixed capacity yet. The idea is that the drives will find a life in mail-out flyers, promotional brochures, and business cards, among other items.

Uploading data to a fresh card does require a special reader and some software to avoid damaging it, so publishing might be a little more complex and take it out of the hands of the ordinary user.

But the technology can also be wireless. If someone doesn’t want to risk damaging the paper drive itself, IntelliPaper also communicates wirelessly with any near field-enabled smartphone or tablet.

It is super cheap to make and the plan is to ship the IntelliPaper to customers in bulk. 

Intel under pressure on USB 3.0

Intel is under pressure to get its Ivy Bridge platform out so it can finally release a chipset with USB 3.0 support.

Ivy Bridge delays has meant that rival chip manufacturers have stolen a march with on the cutting edge technology. “It was really important that AMD beat them to it,” TechEye heard from Kingston’s European product manager, Krystian Jaroszynski.

“They felt pressured so that is why they have it with Ivy Bridge. It is very important, particularly for the corporate side as well,” Jaroszynski said. “Lots of AMD platforms come with it already. Once Ivy Bridge comes out there will be native controller support.

“It will be very important with them for the corporate side as well, and they need to implement every platform.”

Jaroszynksi believes that with Microsoft about to release its Windows 8 To Go standard, having support for USB 3.0 is vital, particularly for corporate use.

The possibilities of having your whole operating system available to be uploaded from a portable USB drive means that the uptake of USB 3.0 should increase substantially.

“We have recent reports of one of our distributors said this year they sold 70 percent of motherboards with USB 3.0,” Jaroszynski said.

NHS must wake up to preventable data loss

Earlier this week it was revealed that the NHS lost 800 patient records on an unencrypted memory stick. This was just the latest in a series of data blunders that the NHS is known for. Critics say losing last set of records was wholly preventable, and excuses about resources or education do not carry much weight.

Kingstong Technology sells secure options to large organisations which by their nature handle sensitive data. Including USB sticks – which it actively dares hackers to crack. With this in mind, TechEye had a chat with Bernd Dombrowsky, Inside Sales Director for the EMEA region.

“You will find within the NHS and local councils and other public entities, as well asp rivate corporate environments, you will find really serious efforts to make sure that data is secure on USB stick,” Dombrowsky says. “Many NHS trusts have bought password protected USB sticks by the hundres and thousands.”

What, then, is the problem? Dombrowsky isn’t sure, either. “I cannot speak for the NHS in general,” he says. But it certainly is puzzling when “they spend money on, admittedly, a significantly more expensive USB storage device and buy that by the 100,000’s, then allow someone to go to Sainsburys and buy a USB that also works in their environment. It’s very likely not a budget and money issue.”

According to Dombrowsky, it’s probably an oversight. Or maybe, a “really, really poor compromise with users, who are saying – but I want to have the data where I have my family photos or whatever else.”

Then, if you let people bring in their own, private devices into the corporate environment, there’s automatically a gaping hole for it to fall out of sooner or later. “You download the data, and this wide open door is open in both directions,” Dombrowsky says. “We’re mainly concerned today about the data loss issue, that if you allow non-approved devices and non-managed devices to be plugged in and connected to the organisation’s network, it’s an open invitation for malware and viruses to be brought into the organisation.”

At least part of the answer is endpoint management, so you can see what ports or open, where and why. It’s a necessary partner to encrypted devices. What, exactly, is the point of buying the secure hardware if the IT system in place renders it moot? Dombrowsky believes without a proper network – especially for an institution that carries as much sensitive information as the NHS – simply checking the secure kit off a civil-service drafted shopping list won’t do.

“This trust, another one that just allows people to use drives that are non-secure, which then can be read if they get dropped in a car park or a pub,” Dombrowsky tells us. “Though they have taken steps, and spent money to buy secure drives, that is not good enough. You need to do both things. You need to buy secure drives and put the software in place.”

Not only that, but to Dombrowsky there are some other questions that need looking at. And it goes beyond someone dropping a USB stick and someone else picking it up – “what the heck are you doing carrying around my personal data?” and “why are you taking this out at all?”

“I can relate to the need to have data portable within the organisation, maybe between different buildings, but you need to address this in the staff training up front,” he says to TechEye. “Would you have any justifiable reason to carry hundreds or thousands of patient data sets home? I don’t think so.”

The NHS trust this time, for Surrey and Sussex, claims it does train staff and it takes patient information extremely seriously. When the story broke, a representative from privacy advocates Big Brother Watch claimed the training is “clearly inadequate”. There’s another way to look at it, according to Kingston’s Dombrowsky, and that lies in the relatively recent nature of working with USB in a professional capacity – for the average member of public.

“Kingston started selling USB sticks in 2004,” he tells us. “You go back only a decade – anyone who becomes a consultant today started their medical training when there were no USB sticks around. So where in their medical training have they heard about where the danger with the technology begins?

“The benefits are obvious to you. It’s intuitively obvious. But I think you need to make an extra effort as an organisation to trade on the risks and the risk management.

“I was amazed just how many stories there are from just the last two or three months about these organisations having their data loss issues”.