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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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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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2015 Dragon Boat Festival – Expect Promotional USB Stick Delays

Posted by USB2U on 9th June 2015 | Permalink

To be absolutely clear the 2015 Dragon Boat Festival has nothing to do with Game of Thrones or Daenerys Targaryen. In fact it’s doesn’t really have anything to do with fire breathing dragons in the classic sense at all.

The reference to Dragons is actually a reference to “Dragon Boats”. These are boats that are made from teak, they are powered by crews of up to 80 people (using oars) and are decorated to look like dragons – hence the name Dragon Boats. The boats are anything up to 100 feet long, the front is shaped like an open mouthed dragon and the rear like the tail of a dragon.

The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival is a significant cultural holiday that celebrates the life of the great poet Ou Yuan (not to be compared to George RR Matin the GOT author).

Qu Yuan was a minister to the Zhou emperor during the Warring States Period (475 – 221 BC). He was renowned for his opposition to the corruption that was rife in the Imperial Court.

Ou Yuan’s views were popular b ut it was his popularity that ultimately led to his downfall. His fellow ministers became jealous and plotted against him, they convinced the emperor that Qu Yuan was a traitor and as a result he was exiled to his hometown.

Whilst in exile Qu Yuan collected great stories, legends and folk tales, and wrote poetry. Despite be banished to his hometown he remained a strong patriot and never lost his love for his emperor. On the 5th May, 278 BC he was heard the devastating news that the emperor had been overthrown by Qin warriors. In a fit of despair Ou Yuan committed suicide by throwing himself into the Miluo river.

On hearing of Qu Yuan’s fate the local townspeople rushed to their boats and tried to save him. They failed but he was much loved so out of respect they tried to prevent the fish from eating his body by throwing rice dumplings into the water and beating their drums to keep evil spirits away.

To this day, eating rice dumplings and racing dragon boats celebrate the 5th day of the 5th lunar month. In 2015 The Dragon Boat Festival falls on the 20th June with celebrations lasting around 3 days in total.

Although the 20th June falls on a Saturday the likelihood is that many factories in China will take the opportunity to close for 3 days the following week. Consequently orders for branded USB memory sticks that are produced and printed in our China factory are likely to be delayed by a few days. Our advice is to either order early or order from our UK stock because this way we can guarantee to meet your deadlines.

What Problems - Printed USB Sticks in 24hrs

What Problems – Printed USB Sticks in 24hrs

 

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Free Data Loading on Promotional USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 5th June 2015 | Permalink

It’s been over 12 years since we first started selling promotional USB memory sticks and the demand for them today is stronger than ever. Other technology based promotional gifts have come and gone during this time but USB sticks have stubbornly clung on.

The reason for their enduring appeal seems to be down to a few key factors; people like them, they’re relatively inexpensive (but have a high perceived value) and more fundamentally they keep giving more for less! By this we mean that today you’ll pay broadly the same for a 8GB USB stick, as you would have done for a 64MB USB stick a decade ago! That’s a huge increase in data storage capacity with no comparative increase cost – no other type of promotional gift (that we can think of) continually offers more in this way.

With branded (USB sticks printed with your logo) 8GB sticks costing less than £2 each (depending on volume and stick type) they really do represent fantastic value. Think about it – 8GB is the standard storage offered on the iPhone C and you can get this for less than £2.

USB Data Loading Services from USB2U

USB Data Loading Services from USB2U

Of course this amount of storage is crying out to be used so when customers buy their promotional flash drives from us we strongly advocate using the memory they are paying for is loaded with whatever promotional material they can digitise and make available. Why, we, it’s a great way to distribute information about your company, your products or your event at very little cost. Compared to the price of printing, transporting and distributing the collateral the benefits and savings are significant.

If you do plan to load data onto your USB memory sticks before you distribute them then you will need to get organised and have your data ready. If you don’t want to go through the pain of loading the data onto the USB sticks yourself then ask us to do it for you. We use our own in-house professional data loading and data duplication equipment to load the data onto your memory sticks and by allowing us to do it we can check the data is loaded correctly on each and every USB stick (The professional data loading kit does this using some clever “checksum” algorithms.

Any style, shape, design or memory size of flash drive can be pre-loaded with data and pretty much any format of data can be loaded. Popular examples of data files that are typically used include; PDF’s, PowerPoint Slides, Excel Spreadsheets, Word Documents, Links to websites and media files.

If you buy your promotional USB memory sticks from us and you are interested in our offer of FREE data loading (T&C’s apply)then just mention this to your Account Manager and they’ll talk you through the options.

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Take Care You Don’t Get Duped When Buying Promotional USB Flash Drives

Posted by USB2U on 1st June 2015 | Permalink

It’s a jungle out there and unless you keep your wits about you it’s very easy to fall prey to the scammers when you buy promotional USB flash drives. The sale of fake or “dodgy” flash drives used to be more common on sites like eBay but more recently the fraudsters have realised it’s easier to make money by selling them in volume to unsuspecting corporate buyers.

The biggest risk you take is buying your USB sticks from an overseas seller and more specifically a seller based in China. The fundamental problem is that you won’t know what you’re buying until your goods arrive (by which time you’ll have paid for them) and if you end up with shoddy or fake goods then there are very few options to get your money back. If you’re a company and you’re buying the sticks with your logo printed on then you’ll nearly always be asked to send your payment by telegraphic transfer to an account domiciled in China – getting your money back if things go pear shaped is a non-starter.

Whilst the initial email exchanges with the fraudsters can often go well its what’s ultimately delivered that is important. The most common trick employed includes “masking” the flash memory inside the USB stick so that for example a 512MB flash stick looks like an 8GB stick when you plug it into your PC – this is pretty easy to do and you’ll only know you’ve been sold a “pup” when you try and load more than 512MB of data onto the flash drive.

The fraud won’t be that obvious because it will look like your data has transferred fine – it’s only when you take the USB stick out and re-inset it that you’ll realise the data you thought had been transferred is not there!

Equally if you just look at the “properties” of the flash drive when its plugged into your PC (or Mac) it will say it’s an 8GB drive but it reality its only a 512MB that has been “masked”.

The other thing to watch out for (but again not easy to spot) is the use of recycled and/or reclaimed flash memory chips. These will have very slow read/write speeds and they might only work a few times. So what might look like a bargain 8GB flash drive could well turn out to be a recycled, slow 1GB flash drive that’s only going to last a couple of months!

Of course all of this is really bad news and it’s even worse if the USB sticks carry your company’s logo on them! The best way to avoid these issues is to buy your promotional flash drives from a reputable supplier in your own country. Check they have a “real” address and a real phone number so if things do go wrong you can get back in touch with them.

Use the Internet as your friend and check out customer reviews on the company. Don’t just buy on price and price alone particularly if you’re buying from an overseas supplier – it’s tempting but it’s the shortest route to being scammed, losing your money and damaging your brand and reputation.

USB2U and relax

Choose USB2U and Relax -you’re in safe hands!

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Re-formatting Promotional USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 14th May 2015 | Permalink

If you’ve been lucky enough to be given a promotional USB memory stick then there’s a strong likelihood that it will have lots of data already pre-loaded onto it by the company who’s giving them away. Typical files pre-loaded onto a promotional USB tend to include videos, copies of presentations, product data sheets, press releases etc. etc. Usually these files are not “locked” because to do this they’d have to be loaded onto the USB sticks during the manufacturing process so, they’ll just be normal copies of files that can be deleted.

If you want to remove these pre-loaded files so that you can use all of the available space for your own data (after you have fully read and absorbed the content put on the sticks of course – it’s only polite) then it’s pretty simple.

The best way to erase all of the files on a USB memory stick (including any hidden files) is to format the stick. At the end of the format process it will be completely clean of all data and you’ll then be able to create folders and sub-folders to transfer your own personal data back into it.

Promotional USB Memory Sticks

Promotional USB Memory Sticks

To format any USB Memory Stick just follow these simple steps:

Step 1 – Transfer any Data from the USB stick to your PC

We strongly recommend that you take a copy of the files on the promotional USB stick before you format it. Just drag and drop the contents from the stick to your PC (or Mac). Formatting your USB memory stick completely erases the memory stick so if you want any of your data then its critical you copy it first. Once you’ve started the format process there is no way back so please check any copies of the data before you start the process.

Step 2 – Formatting your USB Memory Stick on a PC

This is pretty straightforward but it does worry some people because if you get it wrong you can end up formatting the hard drive of your PC (Ouch!). To get started just “click” on the Windows “Start” icon in the bottom left hand corner of your PC and then click on “My Computer” (or “Computer” in Vista or Windows 7). Once done your PC will perform a quick scan and show you all of the drives (hard drives and external memory devices like USB Sticks) installed or connected to your PC.

You need to identify the drive that has a “Removable Disk” icon. – click on it to be absolutely sure it is your USB Memory Stick. Once you are sure right-click on the “Removable Disk” label. From here you will see a small drop down menu that includes the option to “Format” – click this.

At this point a dialog box will open giving you a couple of options; Leave the “Quick Format” option unchecked because this will make sure absolutely everything is deleted and deleted without errors. Click the “Start” button on the dialog and wait for your USB memory stick to be fully formatted.
Step 3 – Re-load your files

Once your USB Memory Stick has been formatted you’ll have a blank canvas to work with. Its recommended that you then create folders and sub-folders to copy your saved data back into to and that you then get into the habit of saving your data in a structured and organised way.
If you’re a Mac user you can still format your USB Memory Stick as follows:

Load up the “Disk Utility” program. You’ll find this in the “Utilities folder” which you access via the “Applications folder”. Your USB memory stick should be in the list showing a white drive icon. Click that icon and select the “Erase” tab on the main window to start the erase (format) process.

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