Monday, 3 February 2014

Counterfeit USB drive

Holy Macaroni! I didn't post up anything in 2013.

OK. Some friends have found these in the market recently and it pains me to know that these things are being sold to unsuspecting members of the public. As the title says, I'm referring to counterfeit USB drives.

These things are selling for dirt cheap (around RM20-30 I think) and advertised as having 256Gigabytes (henceforth abbreviated to GB) of capacity but in reality, these drives may only have 2GB or less of REAL storage capacity. The controller chips have been reprogrammed to report to the operating system that there is more capacity than the real capacity. So what happens when you try and copy an 8GB file into a 2GB USB drive masquerading as a 256GB drive? A whole lot of broken files. Don't worry, the only corruption you will get is on the USB drive (hopefully).

You can perform a search with your favourite search engine about these things but up until recently, I have not been able to get my grubby little hands on a sample of these. OK, on with the show:

A bunch of innocent-looking USB drives from Kingston, you might say...

But let's take a look at the quality of the plastic.

Here's a genuine Kingston USB drive (in purple/red). Note the quality of the plastic seams around the body. It is nice and smooth, and it fits well together without any gaps.

I ran a test using a drive testing tool which you can get from a reputable German website. I've only tested around 40GB of writing and reading out of the allegedly 256GB capacity since this 40GB test takes about 24 hours to complete. And the results are:

Warning: Only 40000 of 262134 MByte tested.
The media is likely to be defective.
6.8 MByte OK (14080 sectors)
39.0 GByte DATA LOST (81905920 sectors)
Details:0 KByte overwritten (0 sectors)
0 KByte slightly changed (< 8 bit/sector, 0 sectors)
39.0 GByte corrupted (81905920 sectors)
0 KByte aliased memory (0 sectors)
First error at offset: 0x00000000006e0000
Expected: 0x00000000006e0000
Found: 0x0000000000000000
H2testw version 1.3
Writing speed: 847 KByte/s
Reading speed: 1.03 MByte/s
H2testw v1.4

The software, H2testw 1.4 can be downloaded from here.

This software writes files to the drive and tries to read them back to see if it is the same. If the files do not match, it will kick up errors like the above.

As you can see from the test, it even fails to keep a good copy of the file in the first 6 megabytes of the drive, so I don't think it would hold your other data any more securely without errors or corruption.

Here's another view of the USB drives. Note the lack of substantial hardware in the green counterfeit drive on the right. It looks... kind of empty inside.

The bottom line is: if  something looks too good to be true, be VERY careful.