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Bob Cole
Flash drives
on Dec 30, 2009 at 4:12:32 am

The Pentagon banned flash drives from the building, for fear that foreign power(s) had inserted code into their hardware, which would enable them to penetrate secure systems.

I'm under no illusion that anyone cares that much about my business, but I have some questions about flash drives.

1. I refrain from putting sensitive information on them, for fear of losing the little buggers. Is there a reasonably secure way to safeguard my files on flash drives?
2. They come formatted for MS-DOS. I have drives which are under and over 4 gb (the limit for MS-DOS files?), and wonder whether I should reformat them to the Mac OS.
3. What about that Pentagon situation? Is there anything else I should know?

Bob C


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Pasi Koivisto
Re: Flash drives
on Dec 30, 2009 at 7:41:53 am

1. I refrain from putting sensitive information on them, for fear of losing the little buggers. Is there a reasonably secure way to safeguard my files on flash drives?

You can create an encrypted and password protected diskimage on the drive. This only works if you only use macs since the PC can't read them.
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1578


2. They come formatted for MS-DOS. I have drives which are under and over 4 gb (the limit for MS-DOS files?), and wonder whether I should reformat them to the Mac OS.

If you only use macs it makes sense to reformat it I think. But if you need to transport files between a PC and a mac it's good to have it formated as ms-dos.

3. What about that Pentagon situation? Is there anything else I should know?

Relax, if there were something sneaky with them I bet a whole bunch of security researchers would have been sounding the horns a long time ago. What I suspect the Pentagon is worried about is people using the sticks at home and getting infected with a virus which would then be a security risk,


/Pasi
--
Editor, Colorist.
Mac Pro, 4x3 Ghz, 8 Gb ram, ATI 1900XT, KONA 3, Sony PVM20L4, Tangent Devices Wave.


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Bob Cole
Re: Flash drives
on Dec 30, 2009 at 1:29:48 pm

Thanks for the tip about encrypting. I'll do it.

[Pasi Koivisto] "What I suspect the Pentagon is worried about"

This sounds fishy, I realize, and I wish I could remember the source, but somewhere I read that flash drives with viruses (perhaps even in their hardware) had been "seeded" around D.C., in the expectation that at least some would get picked up by workers in sensitive locations. Ingenious idea, right? It hit home with me because one of my flash drives is one that I found on my seat in the train.


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