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Communications Connecting - internet cafes, laptops, Palm devices, cell phones - how to connect, use, which one, and Bike to Bike and passenger intercoms.
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  #1  
Old 7 Nov 2006
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Question U3 Flash Drive?

I was just reading about the new U3 flash drives and thought that they would be perfect for travelling. The flash drive basically has an operating system on board so that you can make any Windows XP or 2000 computer behave like it is yours. As I understand it, temporary internet files can be stored on the flash drive and you leave no trace on the public computer you've used. This should allow you to do your banking on a public computer with a little more security. Also, you can set up your e-mail on it so that the public computer behaves like yours. If you use an internet browser from your U3 flash drive you have access to all your favourite bookmarks (like www.horizonsunlimited.com!). All in all it sounds quite wonderful and I was just wondering if anyone has used these yet. If so, how well does it work at an internet cafe?
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  #2  
Old 8 Nov 2006
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Cool

The U3 drive is still vapourware: http://www.roboform.com/u3.html
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  #3  
Old 21 Nov 2006
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Lightbulb "Transform any portable storage device into your secure, personal computer."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ekke
I was just reading about the new U3 flash drives and thought that they would be perfect for travelling. All in all it sounds quite wonderful and I was just wondering if anyone has used these yet. If so, how well does it work at an internet cafe?
Ekke
I came across a similar product in a PC magazine recently. You might want to have a look at MojoPac. You can download it, install it on any portable storage device of your own and evaluate it free for one month. After that, if you want to keep using it, it’s $29.99.

http://www.mojopac.com/

I’ve got as far as running it on my PC (using a Sony 1 Gb memory stick) and the interface is quite intuitive. If you give it a try, let us know how it works when switching between PCs.

Stephan
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  #4  
Old 22 Nov 2006
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Thumbs up U3 drive

I have the 2 GB Disgo witht her U3 on it and it is excellent.

I use Mozilla Firefox web explorer (keeps all my Favourites)
and Bluebird email (both free to download onto you U3. NO evaluation- stays free!)
(can have many email accounts inc Gmail)

Brilliant-

The ONLY thing you MUST remember is to use the EJECT button in U3 as this will delete the temporary folder created on the web cafe's computer.
If not.......

I still 'cut and paste' passwords to be safe.
A very useful device whuich also carries backups (pictures) of travel documents/insurance etc.

If you're discreet, you can use your Disgo (or other USB with U3 on it) in most web cafes- no one has said (seen?) anything yet!
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  #5  
Old 22 Nov 2006
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Talking

Thanks Bert, good info!
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'84 R100RT 141,000 km (Dad's!)
'89 R100GS 250,000 km (and ready for another continent)
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  #6  
Old 6 Apr 2007
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Thumbs up SanDisk Cruzer U3 Flashdrive

I recently picked up a SanDisk Cruzer U3 USB flashdrive and I am really impressed with this device.

It came loaded with 4 software programs including what they call Cruzer Sync syncronization software, Skype and an antivirus program to check any computer you plug into before exposing your files.

Before you leave home the Cruzer Sync software will syncronize your Cruzer with your computer by downloading your outlook files including any stored e-mails and your address book/contacts.

It will also download your internet browser favorites file and any other files you may want to take with you.

When you return home, the software will update your computer with any changes you have made to these files while on the road.

Although I have not yet tried this device at an internet cafe I have plugged it into four different computers at firends homes and at my office.

With a single log in I can quickly read, send & receive e-mail, access my contacts file, surf the net using my favorites and access any files I have with me. As advertized, it is like having your computer on your key chain.

The drive features a retractable USB connector and is available in 512MB, 1GB, 2GB and 4GB.

There are quite a few U3 programs available both free and for purchase including photo editors, office suites and virus software.

More infor is available at SanDisk | Home including an interactive product tour.
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  #7  
Old 8 Apr 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bert333 View Post
I still 'cut and paste' passwords to be safe.
It's actually a lot easier to snoop on the clipboard (when you cut) than to log all keys entered. Though, both hacks are simple enough.

If you are really concerned, highlight the password then drag&drop it into the browser instead. The password woud not persist after you drop.
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  #8  
Old 15 May 2007
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Exclamation U3 Security

I've been playing with a new Sandisk Cruzer 4GB USB flash with U3.

U3 features seem to have been created from a marketing perspective- that is it sounds impressive, but fails technically to improve the security or ability to run programs of a standard flash drive: 'Meet the next generation of USB flash drives: the U3 smart drive'....'keep your data secure' ....'U3 brings the power of portable software to your USB flash drive' are all prominent quotes from U3 brings the power of portable software to your USB flash drive - make it a smart drive!

Security:
I looked a little deeper; it's promised that if the wrong password is entered too many times, then the drive is erased, preventing unauthorised access to your personal data. I tried this on my Sandisk Cruzer- After 99 incorrect attempts to put the password in I was warned that the device would be permanently locked with one more incorrect attempt. Instead of possibly ruining my drive (if that's what permanently locked means) I clicked on 'forgot password' instead. It then let me 'erase' the data on the drive. The data had been 'deleted', but not securely erased. I ran Sandisk 'RescuePro' software which recovered my 'deleted' personal files. So if you lose your password-protected U3 flash disk anyone can read your data, whether it is password protected by the U3 system or not, by using freely available file recovery software. Maybe the answer for maintaining security of sensitive or personal information is either to use a secure encryption application to securely encrypt it (then only access it on trusted PCs), or leave the data at home.

Running Programs: U3 flash drives come with an auto-running menu system called 'Launchpad' and the ability to install certain programs on the flash-drive, making them portable. They can be accessed from the launchpad menu. Specific U3 versions of programs such as email, skype, photo editors, openoffice, etc can be installed to the flash disk. This is great, but is not a new idea- running portable programs can be done with any non-U3 enabled flash disk too, see PortableApps.com - Portable software for USB drives | Your Digital Life, Anywhereâ„¢

However, compared to a bog standard flash drive, U3 makes it simple to choose and use applications. This encourages users to run apps from their U3 flash drives and this user demand encourages software providers to provide more portable U3 compatible releases. This makes the user experience good and results in a greater range of portable apps.

Despite U3 being marketed as 'the next generation' Sandisk is already planning the transition from U3 to their next flash drive hardware platform in 2008. I would guess that this (I assume that it should be called 'the next next generation', or maybe 'the one after the next generation'!) will bring greater security in the form of DRM -that is the restriction of the users rights and may not bring any greater security for personal data.

I am pleased with my purchase, it was less than GBP20 from mymemory.co.uk, but I don't think I have any uses for it above & beyond backing up a few good photos and carrying a few scans of documents.

Ian
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  #9  
Old 16 May 2007
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A Potentially Dumb Question

Great Info Ian. Thanks for doing this research.

I am leaving Monday for about six weeks in Alaska and planned on using my Scandisk Cruzer. I hope you don't mind a potentially dumb question.

The feature I thought would be most useful to me was the Cruzer Sync in that it would allow me to log on and have all my Outlook contacts, Outlook Express Favorites and e-mails at hand.

Is there some danger here as far as being more vunerable than normal to exposing my contacts to some kind security threat? I would hate to be the source of a virus to all my friends.

I agree with your comment around sensitive personal information. I had thought of scanning a copy of my passport, credit card and other information onto the USB drive but decided against it. Leaving a copy of this type of info at home with someone who can send it to you if needed is definitely the best security for this kind of info.

Likely the most sensitive info I will have on the disk is the e-mail from Aunt Martha reminding me to always wear clean underwear in case I get into an accident and have to go to the hospital!
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  #10  
Old 16 May 2007
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USB/Cafe data security

The technical Issues:

When you plug your flash drive into the USB port of an internet cafe PC, all the files on the flash drive can be covertly and automatically copied onto the PC.

Encrypted files would be copied too but should not be able to be decrypted. However if you view the encrypted files, even with an application that does not save a temporary decrypted copy on the hard drive, whatever you view on the screen can also be captured by the PC (same for secure web-pages).

Of course anything you type can also be collected by a key-logger.

Applications to do the above are freely available e.g. see: diskette and software Resources on TechRepublic

The Probability:

Some internet cafes will have precautions in place to reduce the likelihood that staff or previous customers will be collecting your data. Some will not. Some may be collecting all the customer data they can.

I have no idea what the percentage split of these three possibilities are, or how this might vary from country to country although it seems that most internet cafes in the Phillipines have key-loggers.

I also do not understand what might motivate somebody to collect email addresses from an internet cafe, compared to other methods, but would assume that there is a small chance that this could happen and that there is also a small chance that a virus on a cafe PC would do the same.

It may be worth considering the use of web-based email, then at least your whole address book is not made available.

I would take your bank's advice on using public PCs before thinking about making any financial transactions.

Hope this helps,

Ian
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  #11  
Old 16 May 2007
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Unhappy another problem...

My U3 drive fails to work in many cafes because the drives do not work where the computer has some common types of CD/DVD writer software. Works as a standard USB drive okay but NOT a U3 drive. It is a known but little publicised problem............

Roger.
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  #12  
Old 16 May 2007
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Thumbs down Removing U3 & USB Hacksaw

Following Roger's message, I decided to remove U3 from my flash drive to give greater compatability with the PCs I might plug it in to. I have also noticed that there will be no further releases of the Firefox web browser for U3, so plan to use 'portable apps' applications instead. Uninstalling U3 will also free up a little drive space.

Whilst trying to make my mind up whether to remove U3 I searched for U3 compatability issues and pulled up a public USB flash drive users worst nightmare -USB Hacksaw. I'll post this as a new thread as it's a generic USB flash drive security threat (which uses U3 for ease of payload installation).


Regards,

Ian
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  #13  
Old 29 May 2007
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sOFTWARE

We just uploaded our companies showreels onto flash drives, which proved so good we asked the company for the rights to use their software. they said yes and we have now made our own menus, our own pass encryption which our IT guys cant get through. So i think U3 has a lot to learn. Their are many apps out there. Just a bit of fishing and surfing will find you the right software to install on normal flash drives.

good luck
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  #14  
Old 6 Jun 2007
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I just posted in another thread about U3 security but figured its relevant here as well. Anyone concerned about data privacy on their USB drives should really look into encryption. I highly recommend TrueCrypt. There's a great tutorial over at Glosoli: Encrypted thumb drive and autoplay howto that explains how to get it going on your USB drive.
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