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Is Fiat Chrysler about to order 1.4 Million USB Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 27th July 2015 | Permalink

Just days after Wired magazine revealed that it was possible to hack a Jeep Cherokee via its internet-connected entertainment system and take control of it whilst in motion Fiat Chrysler have announced a recall of 1.4 million vehicles to fix the problem.

Fiat Chrysler has said it was “unaware of any injuries related to software exploitation” but nevertheless they have moved reasonably swiftly to deal with the issue and the subsequent media furor that has followed the story breaking.

The fact that the hackers were able take control of the cars brakes, the throttle and the pretty much everything else in the car (apart from the steering although apparently they could control this as well if the car was put in reverse) demonstrates the severity of the issue and explains why Fiat Chrysler have responded so quickly!

Although defined as a “voluntary recall” most customers won’t have to take the vehicles back to the dealers to get them fixed instead they will be sent a USB Stick with instructions on how to plug it in and upgrade the vehicles software.

Customers who don’t want to wait for Fiat Chrysler to send them a USB Memory Stick with the patched software on can instead download the upgrade and transfer it to their own flash drive and plug this into the vehicle.

With around 1.4 million vehicles affected (most manufactured between 2013 -2015) the upgrade is going to be a huge challenge. Only cars in the USA using the company’s uConnect wireless systems are affected.

If Fiat Chrysler, as seems likely, take the decision to proactively issue 1.4 million USB memory sticks with the patch pre-loaded onto them, then someone is going to pick up what could be the largest ever single order for memory sticks in the history of the device!

Who would have thought when they were first introduced well over a decade ago that USB sticks would be used to upload new software to cars to prevent hackers taking control of the cars whilst in use! In fact who would have thought a decade ago that we’d be talking about hackers remotely controlling cars (whilst in use on the roads) over public mobile phone networks. It all sounds like the stuff of a science fiction novel but it just demonstrates how scarily fast technology is moving these days.

Twister USB Flash Drives

Twister USB Sticks

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Barclays Customer Data Found on USB Memory Stick

Posted by USB2U on | Permalink

A USB memory stick recovered by Police in Brighton in February this year contained the personal details of 13,000 Barclays customers. The information which included names, date of birth, addresses and in some cases employment details and NI numbers is thought to have been in the hands of fraudsters for around 7 years!

It’s unclear exactly how the data was originally taken but Barclays, who are clearly embarrassed by this further breach, have acted swiftly and contacted all of the impacted customers and proactively offered them each £250 in compensation.

A Barclays spokesman said: ‘This is not a new theft of data from Barclays. Every indication is that the data here was part of the same theft of data that was reported last year, relating to data stolen in 2008. It is simply a separate USB data stick that was not received at that point in time and was recently discovered by the police.”

They go on to add: ‘‘We are asking each customer to call if they feel their individual circumstances warrant different compensation, especially if they believe that they had a fraudulent event at any point since this data was stolen.”

To be clear it is not believed Barclays stored the data on the USB stick in the first place. It was more likely copied onto the stick by the original fraudsters but the whole episode does once again highlight just how easily stolen data can be distributed.

Barclays USB Flash Drives

Barclays USB Flash Drives

Most of the USB sticks we supply are used as part of simple brand development or marketing campaigns and as such any information stored (or pre-loaded) onto them is unlikely to be sensitive. If you do plan to distribute any USB sticks that you buy from us with confidential data on then we strongly recommend that you ask about the range of encrypted and password protected USB sticks that we offer.

Encrypted and password protected flash drives will cost a little more but this small extra cost is tiny when compared to potential compensation payouts. The compensation that Barclays have offered each of the 13,000 customers whose data was found on the USB stick by police in Brighton compensation will total £3.25 million! Ouch!

Better still don’t use USB sticks to distribute customer confidential data on in the first place. That might sound strange coming from a USB stick supplier but it’s not in our interests to see a popular promotional giveaway “demonised” by the actions of a few people who should know better.

 

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When Looking for Cheap Promotional USB Flash Drives Be Careful

Posted by USB2U on 24th July 2015 | Permalink

If you’re looking for a supplier of promotional USB flash drives then the good news is that there are plenty of suppliers in the UK and there are even more if you’re willing to buy from overseas. The not so good news is that it’s not always easy to make a real “apples to apples” comparison even when on the face of it the products you’re being quoted on look exactly the same.

For example if you receive several quotes for a basic 4GB “Twister” style USB stick (sometimes also called a rotate or swivel just to confuse you even more) printed with your logo (4 colours) on both sides then you’d expect the prices to be the only main variant. The reality is nothing could be further from the truth and here’s why:

Price is assumed to be the driver – it’s a bit of a generalisation but the promotional flash drive market makes the assumption that the USB sticks will ultimately be given away free of charge so companies looking to buy them won’t be interested in quality and will make their buying decision based on price alone. This encourages some suppliers to offer rock bottom prices based on USB sticks they know will fail quickly.

Cheap components – The internal components of a memory sticks can differ wildly depending on who you buy them from. Top quality USB sticks use Grade A original flash memory modules and controller chips but cheaper sticks will be assembled using Grade B re-cycled, “masked” or even fake components. Do you know what you’re being quoted for and if they say “A” grade how can you check that’s what you’ll actually get.

Lead times – Some suppliers work to a 28 day lead time whilst others can get your USB sticks to you in as little as 24hrs and the price will reflect this. If you can wait then it is often possible to get a cheaper price.

So, before you make any decision about which supplier to choose you really need to take some time to properly review the quotes you’ve been given and just as importantly you need to do your homework on the suppliers. Check them out on the Social Media channels and see what other customers are saying about them on 3rd party review sites like TrustPilot. These review sites are always a great baramoter of the sort of service you can expect to receive and the quality of products they’re selling.

If you simply ask for a price for say 100 X 4GB USB sticks and place the order without first doing your homework then dealing with the fallout if they all fail can be challenging!

USB2U for Promotional USB Flash Drives

USB2U for Promotional USB Flash Drives

 

 

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Festivals – It’s what Power Banks were made for!

Posted by USB2U on 23rd July 2015 | Permalink

If you’re attending a Festival this summer then you’ll find loads of websites offering pages and pages of advice on what to take with you, what to wear to and how to make the most of your time at the festival. Most tend to focus on dealing with the unpredictable British weather with lots of helpful advice on wellies, thick socks, waterproofs , sturdy boots and a change of underwear!

Others dwell more on some of the more “challenging” aspects of festival going and suggest you pack lots of toilet rolls, rubbish bags and gaffer tape! An interesting combination.

All seem to be universal in the need to take your tickets (of course) and a fully charged mobile phone and some way of keeping the phone charged whilst you’re there. The tickets are easy (you just need to remember them) but keeping your power hungry smart phone charged throughout the festival is going to be a huge challenge! Let’s face it the photo’s the Facebook posts, the tweets and the SnapChat posts alone will drain most smart phone batteries in a few hours.

If you are going to take your smart phone with you to a festival (and there is a strong argument for just dumbing down and taking an old and basic Nokia) then we’d strongly recommend that your take a Power Bank with you. These are basically good quality re-chargeable batteries that plug into your smart phone using a simple USB cable and re-charge your phone.

Dual Power Bank

Dual Power Bank from USB2U – ideal for Festivals

A decent Power Bank (and you determine the quality by the amount of stored power it holds and who supplied it) will typically fully charge a dead smart phone in around 90 minutes. If you’ve got a PowerBank with a large power store (typically 6200mAh to 10,000 mAh) then you’ll get several full re-charges from it. A good example of these is the Dual Power Bank that USB2U have recently introduced – this has so much stored power that you could recharge two phones simultaneously!

If you’re a company looking for a promotional product for the summer then you could do a lot worse than giving away a Power Bank with your brand or logo printed on it. Give them away at the festival (fully charged – which is how they come) and you’re likely to be swamped! Pretty much everyone ends up running out of power for their smartphone or tablets at a festival so if you can be the saviour then your company is going to get huge brownie points – link the giveaway to a Social Media program and you’re pretty much guaranteed loads of posts and likes!

USB2U offer a wide range of PowerBanks and carry thousands in stock which they can print and deliver on a next day service. All power to USB2U!

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Will MRI Scans be next for the USB Memory Stick Treatment?

Posted by USB2U on 22nd July 2015 | Permalink

Over the last couple of years we’ve seen lots of companies that offer a baby scan service provide additional copies of the images they take on a USB memory stick. This is usually in addition to the more traditional printed images they supply. It’s a great idea because it allows the proud parents to easily share their scans with friends and family on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

One of the first companies to spot the opportunity was Babybond, the UK’s first ISO Quality Endorsed ultrasound provider, who offer their 4D Baby Bonding Scan results on a Babybond branded USB Memory Stick.

The scans that Babybond produce are high quality still and 4D moving images that are captured digitally. It’s these “digital” files that are then copied onto a USB stick. The introduction of a USB memory stick as an option is another innovation introduced by Babybond and reinforces their pioneering approach to the sector.

BabyBond USB Memory Stick

BabyBond USB Memory Stick

The interesting question being posed here is will private MRI companies follow where BabyBond have lead. If you’ve been advised that you need an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan then you might elect to have this done privately. They’re not as expensive as you might think, there are lots of companies now offering the service around the UK and in most cases you can get seen and have your scan done in a couple of days.

MRI scans are typically required (or suggested) to help with the diagnosis of a wide range of medical conditions and sports injuries. If you do elect to get your MRI scan done privately then at the end of your appointment you’ll typically be given a copy of the scan results on a CD/DVD (a copy is usually supplied directly to the referring clinician.)

Getting a copy of your scan on a CD/DVD is a great idea BUT with fewer of us having access to PC’s with a built in CD/DVD player it can be a bit tricky viewing what’s on them! You’ll struggle to find a new laptop or Mac with a CD/DVD drawer and even some desktop PC manufacturers have phased them out.

A better option for private MRI companies like Vista Diagnostics would be to offer their clients the option of getting their scans on a branded USB stick (with their logo on). Not only would it be a point of differentiation for them but also it’s likely to be a more popular option with their clients.

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Looking For Promotional Gift Inspiration – Why USB Sticks are a great choice

Posted by USB2U on 20th July 2015 | Permalink

If you’ve been challenged to come up with a promotional gift for a forthcoming event, campaign or conference then you’re pretty quickly going to realise that it’s not as easy as you might have thought. Coming up with something a little bit different and something that is relevant to your target audience, something that represents and fits with your company’s brand value(s) and perhaps more importantly something that is within budget can be tough!

The obvious “go to” choices for most people looking for Promotional Giveaways are printed bags, printed pens, key rings, cups and mugs etc. These have been around for years and they’ve maintained their popularity because they’re reasonably cheap, they’re pretty easy to get hold of (even with your brand on) and they’re an “easy” choice. But, what about USB memory sticks?

Promotional USB Twister Flash Drives

Promotional USB Twister Flash Drives

Branded USB memory sticks (to be clear that’s a USB memory stick with your company’s name on and not a memory stick from a well known manufacturer who puts their brand or logo on them) not only look fantastic when printed up with a company logo but they’re incredibly popular with the people you give them to because they really are very useful and handy things to have.

USB Sticks are available in a huge range of styles and memory sizes and if you buy a reasonable number (say 200 or more) and you go for a small memory version you can pick them up for less than £1.50 each. You could even get your own design/shape commissioned (perhaps in the shape of one of your products) – these full 3D custom sticks only cost a little bit more. Just remember if you do go down the custom route to allow yourself a little longer when placing the order.

Where a USB stick really comes into its own compared to other promotional gifts is the ability to pre-load them with things like your marketing material, videos, sales data sheets, price lists, web links etc. etc. If you’re really organised these files can be loaded for you by the factory during the manufacturing process. The cost of doing this is tiny and in some cases free but it does rely on you having the information and files ready when you place the order. By loading this sort of material onto the USB sticks before you hand them out you can cover the cost of the sticks by the saving you make by not getting quite so many items printed!

With the rise in prominence of USB sticks (or flash drives as they are often called) there are plenty of companies now supplying them in the UK. If you do decide to add them to your short list then shop around to make sure you get the best deal. Please buy from a reputable supplier with a proven track record because its all too easy to buy cheap/cheerful versions that are not quite what they seem and will have a high failure rate.

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At USB2U we’ve got your number – Serial Numbered USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 13th July 2015 | Permalink

There are lots of reasons why you might want to put a unique serial number on each of the branded USB memory sticks you hand out. Some companies we supply have them etched onto each USB sticks so that they can “bind” a specific stick to a specific person. We assume they’re putting sensitive information on every USB stick and want to make sure if the stick is a) given out to the right person in the first place and b) are able to re-unite it with the designated owner should it get lost (and subsequently turn up).

Sensitive data that’s pre-loaded onto one of our USB sticks might for example include confidential product pricing or perhaps embargoed press release information that can’t fall into the wrong hands. Putting a serial number on them is not an infallible method but at least it demonstrates you are aware of the issues and that you’re trying to do something to deal with them. As well as putting a serial number on the physical stick don’t forget it’s also possible to protect access to the data stored on the flash drive as well – just ask if this is something you’d be interested in.

Flash Drive Serial Numbers and Bar Code Printing

Flash Drive Serial Numbers and Bar Code Printing

School and universities often get their USB sticks marked (engraved or etched) with a serial number so they can “link” them to a student – at least this way if the USB stick is lost (and subsequently found) it can be repatriated to the student who lost it. There’s nothing worse than losing precious coursework stored on a USB memory sticks particularly when it’s not been backed up to a cloud based solution like Dropbox!

We always recommend engraving or etching a serial number onto a USB sticks rather than printing it because printed numbers can be scratched off. The engraving costs pennies or nothing depending on how many sticks you buy and it is a simple but effective solution. Don’t worry about the numbers having a negative effect on the branding of the sticks because if you don’t want them on the body of the stick they can be etched onto the connector that plugs into the PC or on the side of the stick.

If you know in advance the names of the recipients of the USB sticks then we can personalise each one and print (or engrave) their names on the sticks instead of numbers – it really depends what you’re trying to achieve and how discrete the “binding” of the USB stick to a particular person needs to be.

If in doubt just call us and we’ll talk you through the options and lead times.

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Is it a Name Badge, a USB Stick or both

Posted by USB2U on | Permalink

Are you planning on attending any seminars, training courses, conferences, or shareholder meetings this year? If you are then even if you pre-register on-line (which tends to be the way these days) you’re still going to have to go through some form of registration process when you turn up.

As part of this registration process it’s highly likely that you’ll end up with a name badge of some sort so that you can identify yourself and be indentified by people you meet. In some cases the ID badges also determine your levels of access.

If the event you’re attending is a consumer event with tens of thousands attending then expect a fairly simple paper affair that might possibly have a bar code or QR code printed on it (typically folded and placed in a plastic holder that is then secured by a pin or lanyard).

If however it’s a business event with an invited or paying audience then the name badges tend to be more personalised and they’ll typically carry the branding of the event organiser and any associated sponsors. Again, these are typically worn by attaching them to a lanyard or by using a pin/clip.

In these troubled times with the risk of terrorist threats at a new high the need for badges is pretty obvious – the attendees need to be recognised and equally will want to know who they are talking to. Name badges act as fairly basic security tool and advertising vehicle but their principal purpose is to allow people (and their relative status/position) to be identified easily and quickly.

Most of the badges used are “dumb”, they have no on-board intelligence or memory and whilst some might have bar-codes or QR codes these have to be scanned to gather any information and this information is almost exclusively gathered for the event organisers and not the wearer of the badge.

USB Name Badge

USB Name Badge

There is another alternative and that’s the USB Name Badge. These simple, relatively cheap and incredibly useful USB cards have the potential to turn the conventional name badge market on its head. The reason? Well, for little more than the cost of a conventional personalised badge you can now get a USB name badge with up to 16GB of on-board storage!

The storage capability of these cards (badges) means that every name badge can be pre-loaded with huge amounts of information including conference speakers notes, speakers PowerPoint Slides, training manuals, marketing brochures, links to Social Media sites, competitions etc. Just think of the marketing opportunities these cards (badges) create.

For the delegates all they have to carry home with them at the end of the event is a name badge – no longer will they be weighed down with huge folders filled with papers and brochures.

USB Name Badges are a real “win win” and they look set to shake up the name badge market over the next few years. Available now from USB2U, delivered anywhere!

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Agreement Reached on bailout for Greece – USB2U breathes sigh of relief

Posted by USB2U on | Permalink

Talk about going to the wire! After another series of all night talk it finally looks as though there is agreement across the eurozone on a way forward.

To quote Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission head “There will be no Grexit” – The financial markets have responded positively, but of course there is still the small matter of the Greece government having to pass the reforms that underpin the agreement by Wednesday. If this happens then whilst it won’t exactly be business as usual at least there will be a way forward and we can all collectively work on restoring something akin to normality.

For us at USB2U this is fabulous news because we have lots of clients in Greece and they have remained loyal to us over the past few years. Many of them are local photographers that take on wedding orientated assignments and come to us because of our range of popular wooden USB sticks and gift boxes but we have plenty of other more general businesses in Greece that we also supply.

Greece Bailout Deal done - no Grexit

Greece Bailout Deal Done – Hooray

Failure to reach agreement wouldn’t necessarily mean we couldn’t or wouldn’t continue to supply our Greek customers but we suspect it would make our prices and payment terms less attractive than they are today. (or have been over the past year or two).

Anyway now there seems consensus on a way forward we’re delighted because it means we can focus on what we do best and that’s working with our customers to deliver a range of amazing branded USB memory sticks – Hooray!

All we need now is for the uncertainty and mild chaos that’s rocking the Chinese Stock markets to abate and we’d be in the happy position of saying stability has been restored! Unfortunately whilst all eyes across europe have been on Greece the bigger potential crisis has been unfolding in China.

Given that all of our USB sticks are manufactured in China (we finish, e.g. print or engrave the majority in the UK but buy the core “blank” sticks from China) it’s critical to us (and our customers) that we can be assured of stability in supply and pricing.

Whilst our partner factory is not directly affected by the lurches in the stock market per se they (and we) do suffer when sentiment moves against China and the exchange rates take a hit. All USB sticks are purchased from the factories in China in US dollars so pricing is directly connected to the international financial markets.

So, whilst the deal for Greece is welcome news we’d be a lot happier if the Chinese markets could follow suit and find some stability.

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Wimbledon 2015 and Custom USB Strawberries – of course!

Posted by USB2U on 3rd July 2015 | Permalink

Wimbledon 2015 is now in full swing, the weather is behaving (so far) and the tennis, as evidenced by the Dustin Brown vs. Rafael Nadal game yesterday is as enthralling and entertaining as ever. The only slight fly in the ointment is the BBC Highlights programme that has been savaged by tennis fans and much of the media – expect the BBC to rush in changes pretty soon!

One the perennial favorites at SW19 (if you’re lucky enough to attend in person) are the amazing servings of strawberries and cream. They’re simply a must have and are as much a part of Wimbledon as the all white dress code, the ball balls and girls and the queues to get a ticket!

Every year more than 28,000kg of strawberries and 7,000 litres of cream are consumed by tennis fans and there’s no sign of this classic dish being usurped by anything else soon. Wimbledon is after all as much about the tradition of the event as it is about the tennis and a Wimbledon without strawberries and cream just wouldn’t be Wimbledon.

As much as we love the custom USB strawberries we designed and produced for Sealed Air we can’t see them replacing the real thing!

Custom-USB-Strawberry_Wimbledon

Custom-USB-Strawberry_Wimbledon

Of course these custom USB memory sticks are designed as freebie promotional giveaways and their primary objective is not to refresh a tennis audience but to engage with potential customers and get them talking about Sealed Air’s products and services. Custom USB sticks achieve this to a much greater degree than a standard promotional flash drive because they’re fun, different, they generate “chatter” and they often generate lots of activity on Social Media of the kind that you just don’t see these days with a standard promotional USB stick.

Let’s face it we’re probably all been given at least one or two “twister” style sticks over the last few years but it’s not everyday you get given a USB stick in the shape of a strawberry or truck or power drill!

If you’ve got an seminar, a conference or a marketing initiative coming up that requires a promotional USB memory stick then talk to us at USB2U about getting your own custom version produced. They cost only pennies more than a standard model, there are no set-up costs or tooling costs and they are typically delivered in around 3-4 weeks.

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