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Man Swallows USB Flash Drive Evidence

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the chew-it-up dept.

Media 199

SlideRuleGuy writes "In a bold and bizarre attempt to destroy evidence seized during a federal raid, a New York City man grabbed a flash drive and swallowed the data storage device while in the custody of Secret Service agents. Records show Florin Necula ingested the Kingston flash drive shortly after his January 21 arrest outside a bank in Queens. A Kingston executive said it was unclear if stomach acid could damage one of their drives. 'As you might imagine, we have no actual experience with someone swallowing a USB.' I imagine that would be rather painful. But did he follow his mother's advice and chew thoroughly, first? Apparently not, as the drive was surgically recovered."

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Next time... (4, Funny)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 4 years ago | (#31346990)

Next time, dude should use a microSD card.

And maybe some mayo. Blegh.

Making copies shouldn't be a crime (-1, Flamebait)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31346994)

The guy was counterfeiting. That doesn't hurt anyone, especially if the copies are really good.

But you're right. He should have chewed.

Re:Making copies shouldn't be a crime (4, Informative)

Improv (2467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347032)

The story said he was skimming, not counterfeiting.

Re:Making copies shouldn't be a crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31347066)

I skimmed thorough the summary - I had no idea this is illegal somewhere.

Re:Making copies shouldn't be a crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31347144)

Better get ready to swallow all the evidence of your misdeeds that you amassed on your USB stick!!! Hurry hurry nownownow!!!

Re:Making copies shouldn't be a crime (5, Insightful)

fusiongyro (55524) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347588)

Sure it does. Printing money steals from everyone else with the currency. If you have some amount of value or wealth in your country in terms of goods and land, and suddenly there's twice as much money in circulation, everything would suddenly have to cost twice as much for the same amount of value to be exchanged. In essence, by introducing twice as much money into circulation, the money printer has just stolen half the wealth from all users of the currency. The same thing happens for trivial amounts of money, the effect just isn't as pronounced. The first time it's used the money has the same value as it used to. So the effect is especially nasty because it takes a while to materialize.

I actually knew someone whose job was to negotiate with dictators in African countries to trade $1M for some large quantity of newly printed money in the local currency. He'd then take that money and spend it on as much stuff as he could, take it to America and sell it at a profit. The dictator is happy to have a big pile of almost universally accepted US currency and doesn't understand (or care about) economics well enough to understand that he's just helped someone steal both goods and the intangible value of his country's currency.

Re:Making copies shouldn't be a crime (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347626)

Sarcasm detector on the fritz?

Re:Making copies shouldn't be a crime (0)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347664)

Printing money steals from everyone else with the currency.

No. The value of their currency is reduced. Nothing was stolen. It’s just worth less than it was before.

He'd then take that money and spend it on as much stuff as he could, take it to America and sell it at a profit.

If you can’t see work being performed and value being added, you’re blind.

Sure the dictator could have just as easily exported all of those goods himself. He didn’t. He chose to have someone else do it, because it was a quicker payout and less work for him. Absolutely nothing was stolen.

Re:Making copies shouldn't be a crime (2, Informative)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347918)

Don't be intentionally dense. It's theft, no way around it. Instead of stealing from you personally, the counterfeiter steals a marginal amount of value from everyone holding that currency by just a small amount. All objects have value, which is a combination of the effort that went into creating it, the demand for that object and the scarcity of that object.

Without a fixed or regulated amount of money in existence, it has no value. If I print $1 trillion in cash tomorrow and hand it out on the streets, suddenly your house and everything you own is worth less. You still have a house, I didn't take that from you. I just stole it's value.

Re:Making copies shouldn't be a crime (1, Interesting)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348042)

It’s NOT theft.

Nor is it theft when that asshole’s blighted lawn [slashdot.org] reduces your property value.

You still have a house, I didn't take that from you. I just stole it's value.

No. You still have the same amount of money, it’s just worth less. The value of your non-cash assets, such as the house, is exactly the same, and in fact the cash equivalent is greater than it was before, because dollars have less value.

Re:Making copies shouldn't be a crime (1)

John Meacham (1112) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348482)

Not neccessarily, A house in a country with a functioning economy and useful medium of trade is worth way more than a house somewhere without that.

Re:Making copies shouldn't be a crime (0, Redundant)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348596)

Still not theft.

Re:Making copies shouldn't be a crime (1)

xaosflux (917784) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348350)

If I print $1 trillion in cash tomorrow and hand it out on the streets, suddenly your house and everything you own is worth less. You still have a house, I didn't take that from you. I just stole it's value.

No you didn't; my house is still as valuable as it was the day before, only the measure of it's value with that specific currency has changed. If the printed money was handed out equally "on the streets" all you did was cause inflation, my house now 'costs' more, as does everything else.

Re:Making copies shouldn't be a crime (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348480)

Your house and other goods you owned would still retain value (and its value in terms of the currency would actually increase since more of the devalued currency would be required to purchase a house), the only thing that would lose value is any cash you held.

Obviously if you wanted to sell those goods, you wouldn't accept payment in a currency that was rapidly losing value. This is why people in countries with hyperinflation typically abandon the local currency and deal in dollars or euros.

Re:Making copies shouldn't be a crime (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347976)

Uh.. of course it's stolen. The value is stolen. Your {currency unit}'s utility is reduced and the counterfeiter gains {currency unit} with a value roughly equal to the aggregated loss of buying power.

You are deprived of "ability to get stuff" and the counterfeiter has more of the thing you were deprived of. How is that not stealing?

Re:Making copies shouldn't be a crime (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348112)

The value is stolen. Your {currency unit}'s utility is reduced and the counterfeiter gains {currency unit} with a value roughly equal to the aggregated loss of buying power.

In the same sense that the horse-and-buggy industry’s value was “stolen” by the automobile industry, sure.

Re:Making copies shouldn't be a crime (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348454)

Uh.. of course it's stolen. The value is stolen.

That's actually called fractional reserve banking. As to how it's not stealing, well, ask the Fed...

Seriously tho, if you're worried about the loss of value of a fiat currency, don't store your buying power in it. No counterfeiter in the world can do anything near what's done every day by those running the monetary systems.

Re:Making copies shouldn't be a crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31348468)

It's funny that USA liberals refuse to understand how (their) non-violent crimes cause damage.

We can explain value loss and inflation by using a less politically loaded example, waiting a week for the person to forget his agenda. Tell the same person that gold is dropping at twice the rate, so he can be twice as rich. Then, you can let him figure out that everyone else is thinking the same thing (unfortunately, in the world of counterfeiting, this is not the case, and that's why the benefit is only for the criminal and the hurt is for everyone.)

Users will see how futile their new money is when everyone wants to get at the increased amount of gold. Auction (or whatever term WOW's inter user market system is called) prices will take off. His piggy bank with 50 hard-earned gold pieces can now be traded for much less elite armors than before, because other players know he can get off his ass and gather more cash to come back and trade. Eventually the system is so warped by user pricing that NPC sales go down after everyone has purchased the generic goods. The prices are low compared to player character shops, and all the non-generic good armor sales for a lot more. Other patches will eventually nerf monsters to be stronger to try to balance out the excess power given to the players, so the advantage in added gold is "gone," like when real world prices go up after your minimum salary increases by law... What doesn't go away with the changes is the fact that you still need to pay higher prices, or get lower quality goods at the old prices. If for some unfortunate disability, you can't farm the extra drops of gold now "available" to your peers, then your wallet effectively loses power to buy at the same value levels as before.

People then start to leave the game in anger. Back in reality, we can't "leave" the "game." We can even put the counterfeiters in jail, but the money can't be rounded up after it reaches innocent peoples hands. The prices won't go down. The grind will be a much steeper for them, while the counterfeiters create value to themselves from the illusion of unlimited amounts of "gold"

Re:Making copies shouldn't be a crime (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348438)

The dictator may be unable to export the goods himself, perhaps due to sanctions or similar... Or he may have to export them on the black market and accept an extremely poor price for them.

Re:Making copies shouldn't be a crime (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348582)

I think I’ve gotten e-mails from some of those guys.

In seriousness, though, even then you’re providing a service for the money you make. You’re doing something that he either can’t do or simply would prefer not to do himself.

Re:Making copies shouldn't be a crime (1)

ffreeloader (1105115) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348664)

Ummmm.... If I do something illegal that makes you poorer, and at the same time enrich myself due to my actions, I have most certainly stolen from you as I have illegally and immorally enriched myself at your expense, and without your permission.

Re:Making copies shouldn't be a crime (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31347812)

Thank the gods there's nothing with a name similar to The Rederal Feserve that prints money (based on nothing) to 'bail-out' an economy (based on nothing).

Re:Making copies shouldn't be a crime (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348426)

Yes, like the government's quantitative easing policy...

Did this friend of yours contribute to the laughable state of the zimbabwean economy? I bought a 100 trillion zimbabwe dollar bill a while ago just for fun, its worth about 3 cents.

the drive was surgically recovered. (1, Insightful)

wiredog (43288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347014)

Couldn't they just wait for it to move through?

Re:the drive was surgically recovered. (0, Troll)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347048)

Stomach acid is very corrosive. If they left it, it's likely that any exposed PCB traces would be gone. Plus, why would you wait a day or two when you could risk a potemtial criminal's live by forcing them to undergo unnecessacary surgery?

Re:the drive was surgically recovered. (4, Informative)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347108)

FTFA:

When Necula was unable to pass the item after about four days, doctors--concerned that the drive was not compatible with the suspect's GI tract--concluded he "would be injured if they allowed the flash drive to remain inside of him," reported Borger. Necula eventually agreed to allow doctors at New York Downtown Hospital to remove the item, according to a source familiar with the incident.

Re:the drive was surgically recovered. (1)

newdsfornerds (899401) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347330)

His vampire anatomy would have dissolved the drive in a matter of minutes.
Fear the wrath of NECULA!

Re:the drive was surgically recovered. (5, Funny)

Taevin (850923) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347630)

doctors--concerned that the drive was not compatible with the suspect's GI tract--

Yeah, what a noob. Real geeks have numerous USB ports throughout their intestines and patch their firmware frequently to keep functionality regular.

Re:the drive was surgically recovered. (4, Funny)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348606)

After four days, it probably felt more like FireWire...

Re:the drive was surgically recovered. (2, Insightful)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347980)

I'm surprised they left it in there that long. PCB's have a lot of materials in them that are extremely hazardous to your health. The PCB itself is compressed fiberclass impregnated with thermosetting plastics or other resins.

It's just nasty shit.

Re:the drive was surgically recovered. (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348030)

I'm not convinced from the article that that he was in as much danger as they say. How did they rule out the possibility that the drive wasn't on its first trip through?

Obligatory XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31348196)

Re:the drive was surgically recovered. (5, Funny)

kpainter (901021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347566)

I wonder if they clicked the "Safely Remove Hardware" icon first?

Re:the drive was surgically recovered. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31347090)

Yes. But after 4 days (RTFA), there would be legitimate medical reason to worry about whether it was going to make its own way along.

Re:the drive was surgically recovered. (1)

kirill.s (1604911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347134)

That would have been pretty cruel, since he would have probably died from internal bleeding, and they'd have nobody to accuse.

Would you want to retrieve it? (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348106)

Would you want to be the guy having to retrieve it from the other end?

And this btw is the real life proof of the crypto-nerds fantasy being just that, a fantasy.

Crypto-nerd: Ooh I encrypted this file with a secret password that they can't break with a thousand super-computers.

Secret service: Hit him with this stick until he tells everything. If he doesn't, well that proves he was an highly trained enemy agent.

And WAY to give the game away. Now they know exactly where to look and that there is something to look for.

Re:Would you want to retrieve it? (2, Interesting)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348592)

They have special toilets, attached to sealed booths with attached rubber gloves you put your hands in, and a hose to wash the stuff down...
Immigration officials use equipment like that all the time to retrieve drugs and other illegal items people try to import by swallowing.

Re:Would you want to retrieve it? (1)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348674)

Stick? What stick? What article/summary were you reading? If the drive was encrypted, he would not have needed to swallow it in the first place. He probably just panicked and made a failed attempt at being stealthy anyhow.

That does it (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347026)

I am never, ever getting into the data recovery business.

Re:That does it (2, Informative)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347212)

Don't worry, you get them cleaned...

There's basically a "don't ask, don't tell" agreement between law enforcement and recovery. I don't ask just where they got it and they don't wanna tell it anyway...

Re:That does it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31347394)

Who wouldn't love to handle stuff that had just been fished out of somebody's feces, vomit or blood. What with not being able to properly clean it, so you don't damage it further, and all.

Well yea ... probably better not to tell them. After all, it's not contagious ... most of the time.

Re:That does it (1)

DanMelks (1108493) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348224)

We seem to have found another of many places where our rights are being eroded: if the cops don't care, and the techs don't ask, who is looking out for the little guy?

Surgery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31347028)

Couldn't they have just, you know, waited?

Re:Surgery? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347196)

I'd be worried about it getting stuck in the intestines, since it probably won't do much dissolving.

Re:Surgery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31347314)

Couldn't you have, you know, read the article?

Re:Surgery? (2, Informative)

UnanimousCoward (9841) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347758)

RTFA? You do know this is /., right?

Re:Surgery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31348110)

huh. Thought it was digg. my bad.

New definition of (5, Funny)

alman (86957) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347030)

data dump?

Re:New definition of (4, Funny)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347504)

Since this is storage, I believe you mean dumping core.

I think he needs more Fibre Channel.

The federal gov't RAIDed his house?

If you consume too many of these drives, you get FAT, worst case you get FAT32.

Good thing he didn't have a tape WORM. (ha! two storage jokes in one!).

DAT is a bad way to backup your data.

The article got it wrong, when asked about the USB drive, he didn't say he "ate it" he said he used ADIC.

Re:New definition of (2, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347996)

It was a small USB drive. Only one byte.

Re:New definition of (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348198)

Actually he tasted it first, just a nibble.

Re:New definition of (1)

mortonda (5175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348706)

what was he arrested for, flashing?

Re:New definition of (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348804)

The punishment should fit the crime...

He should be tarred and feathered.

Hope it was RoHS compliant... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31347058)

I always check before I swallow electronic evidence. I may be stupid but in my body I don't want more than the acceptable levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants.

Re:Hope it was RoHS compliant... (5, Funny)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347798)

I always check before I swallow electronic evidence.

A man brings his pet monkey to a bar. The monkey runs around eating everything in sight. First the cherries used for garnish. Then all the peanuts. Then the deviled eggs. Finally, he stops after eating a cue ball off the pool table.

The next week, the man returns with his monkey. Once again, the monkey runs to devour the cherries. But this time, instead of just eating it, he shoves the cherry up his ass first, pulls it out and then eats it. The bartender, quite disturbed by this, asks the man why the hell he shoved it up his ass first. The man replies, "Well, after the cue ball incident, he checks the size first before eating anything"...

Re:Hope it was RoHS compliant... (1)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348708)

You sir have made my day.

He was charged with obstruction of justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31347162)

Never have such charges been more appropriate.

After surgery, the suspect was quoted as saying, "And I thought I was regular before."

Encryption? (1)

kirill.s (1604911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347194)

He could have just encrypted it! Wait... if he was thinking he could get away with that, he must have been too dumb to encrypt it.

Re:Encryption? (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347250)

If even the manufacturer can not say whether the acid will make the data unrecoverable, I would not call that dumb. It was worth a try...

Re:Encryption? (2, Informative)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347466)

Well realize, Kingston is not a manufacturer of the flash drive chips. They just package and rebrand other manufacturer's flash drive hardware.

There was a Slashdot article on Kingston a week or so ago covering this topic.

New warning on Kingston USB drives (5, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347200)

Do Not Eat (if containing evidence in a federal investigation)

Re:New warning on Kingston USB drives (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347380)

When they put the warnng label on those. The man can now honestly go "See because of me they need to put that on there"

There may have been another reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31347296)

He could have just been hungry..

http://www.dynamism.com/accessories/usb_sushi.shtml

A legal maneuver by police ... (1)

Rambo Tribble (1273454) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347298)

... since, obviously, if they hadn't operated, the evidence would have to have been, by its nature, eliminated.

Could be worse (5, Funny)

Merenth (935752) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347366)

I'm just glad we never got raided when I was storing data on the Vax 6000 tape drives.

Swallowing is your WORST option to erase evidence (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347378)

Quite frankly. While stomach acid might work to some degree, it's absolutely unreliable and we're not even getting to where it gets stuck inside of you and you're going to be unconscious when they retrieve it.

USB sticks are fragile and tiny. Even during a raid there is plenty of time to get rid of them or destroy them physically. Even if you're arrested on the street, your chances are higher to destroy what you have on you by throwing it on the street. Chances are, before they can retrieve it a few trucks passed over it, or it shattered from the impact altogether.

USB drives are tough; how about food-based ones? (1)

name_already_taken (540581) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347536)

USB sticks are fragile and tiny. Even during a raid there is plenty of time to get rid of them or destroy them physically. Even if you're arrested on the street, your chances are higher to destroy what you have on you by throwing it on the street. Chances are, before they can retrieve it a few trucks passed over it, or it shattered from the impact altogether.

They may be tiny, but they are not fragile. The worst that is likely to happen if one is run over is that the connector gets crushed. That won't render the data irretrievably lost.

Seriously, try to break one of these things sometime. Without resorting to pliers or some kind of heavy duty shredder, it's pretty tough.

I wonder if it would be possible to make the printed circuit board out of a starch that would dissolve in water?

If the flash chips were erasable by exposure to light (like the old UV-erasable EPROMS), then just having the plastic enclosure dissolve away would be enough to destroy the data.

Re:USB drives are tough; how about food-based ones (2, Interesting)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347662)

I tried a microwave oven once.
Worked perfectly (smelled awful), so... it's not hard if you're trying!

I imagine hooking it up to a brief 220 voltage source would probably do the trick as well - and laundering often works too. Not enough to be relied on, however, since I've laundered 3 flash drives and 1 worked.

Re:Swallowing is your WORST option to erase eviden (2, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347714)

Seems like a bit of an over complex solution when you could
High volume+ effeceint:
1:
encrypt the drive.
2:
encrypt the drive with some deniable style system like truecrypt.

lower volume high secrecy:
3:
carry around a USB key full of your holiday snaps.... and hide an encrypted drive in the least significant bits of the photos.

Re:Swallowing is your WORST option to erase eviden (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31347892)

Plausible deniability is pretty much your best bet. The courts kind of frown on people who clearly / intentionally destroy incriminating evidence.

If, upon opening the truecrypt, all they find is a folder of "My favorite porn pics"... he's good to go.

Plus, unlike option 3, you don't have to roll any custom software.

Re:Swallowing is your WORST option to erase eviden (1)

LtGordon (1421725) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348344)

Quite frankly. While stomach acid might work to some degree, it's absolutely unreliable and we're not even getting to where it gets stuck inside of you and you're going to be unconscious when they retrieve it.

It's not absolutely reliable, but you could definitely do worse. Gastric acid is largely Hydrochloric acid, which reacts readily with metals like lead and copper commonly used in electronics.

That being said, I really wouldn't recommend eating a USB flash drive. It may or may not actually be effective in destroying the data, could require surgery to remove, could add some nice heavy metals to your diet, could get you charged with destruction of evidence, etc. Much easier to just encrypt the data and memorize the key. Encryption won't get you charged with destruction of evidence and you can't (yet) be forced to turn over passwords to assist in your prosecution (5th Amendment) [slashdot.org] .

Re:Swallowing is your WORST option to erase eviden (2, Interesting)

uncledrax (112438) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348528)

I've machine washed and dried (accidentally of course) several Sandisk Cruzers, and all functioned perfectly well afterwards. (Yes, I'm comparing agitation in water and tumble dry to throwing it into the street)

I'd say bring a hammer [youtube.com] and just smash it to bits.. even if by throwing it on the street you'd managed to crack the PCB or destroy the USB interface itself, you'd still likely have the actual storage chip intact and readable via other mechanisms. You'd want to smash item #4 in this reference image [wikipedia.org] to dust.

Re:Swallowing is your WORST option to erase eviden (1)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348754)

The Woz used to tell stories of him making blueboxes rigged with thermite in case his customers were raided. Complicated true, but much more fun than a hammer.

Re:Swallowing is your WORST option to erase eviden (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348710)

I dropped a Kingston USB drive in the parking lot at work & didn't realize it was missing till 2 rainy days later. When I found it, it had been ran over by at least one car & was sitting in a puddle. I let it dry out, bent the connector straight, plugged it in & got my data off of it.

new type of USB Drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31347426)

Favored USB Drives, will destroy all data with contact to stomach acid. Available now in FBI Mint, Police Cherry, and CIA Arsenic.
Get yours now!!! *WARNING NOT FOR CONSUMPTION*

Memo to my evil twin Skippy (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347518)

Don't forget to use bio-compatible storage devices next time you commit a computer crime, and make sure they dissolve quickly in stomach acid.

--

Seriously, anyone who records criminal information on a computer without using "unbreakable" encryption* should understand the risks.

*Unbreakable would include a one-time pad where the pad is for practical purposes not available to the police. Absent quantum computing or something similar, it also includes strong encryption where the key cannot be recovered with less than brute-force methods and with a key strength sufficient to make a brute-force attack impractical. Of course, with quantum computing "right around the corner" and most serious-crime statutes of limitations being on the order of 5-7 years, don't be surprised if your "unbreakable" encryption gets broken before the statute of limitations expires.

Re:Memo to my evil twin Skippy (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348082)

Here in the US, refusal to decrypt encrypted data has been interpreted by judges as valid evidence for the accusation.

Even the fifth constitutional amendment does not appear to give you protection here -- if you get accused for a major crime like murder, terrorism or illegal copies of music, you apparently can't refuse to decrypt your data on the basis that you then would incriminate you for a lesser offence (like e.g. having used a false address, having bought Cuban cigars, what have you).
There's no incentive for the accuser to provide you with immunity for lesser crimes if refusal to incriminate yourself not only is seen as admission of guilt, but evidence for same.

So I understand fully well why some people would rather destroy the evidence instead of keeping it encrypted.

Re:Memo to my evil twin Skippy (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348752)

That's why TrueCrypt has the developed the concept of "plausible deniability", check it out!

So, was the drive still working? (1)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347596)

Because that could make a great ad for Kingston.

On a side note, they make -- albeit expensive -- flash drives with a kill switch. If you're tromping around with incriminating data, it might not be a bad plan to pay a little more cash and be on the safe side. Not that the criminal element was ever known for their forethought.

Re:So, was the drive still working? (1)

bugi (8479) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348070)

Please provide links to these flash drives with kill switches.

Obg. Tex Murphy (with apologies) (2, Funny)

Xaroth (67516) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347644)

It was only a matter of time before the newly merged Frito-Kingston corporation cornered the chip market.

Hmmm. Might be some kind of record. (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347762)

Remember the old days when spies would swallow their instructions, written on paper (hopefully they had the foresight to use rice paper)?

I wonder whether this event might qualify for the largest documented quantity of artificially encoded information (as opposed to naturally encoded information like in DNA) ever ingested.

Re:Hmmm. Might be some kind of record. (1)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348046)

I wonder whether this event might qualify for the largest documented quantity of artificially encoded information (as opposed to naturally encoded information like in DNA) ever ingested.

Yes, the "naturally encoded information" record is held by Michelle Monahan... 1.7 litres of it.

I would volunteer for the research (1)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347858)

I work in a chem lab. I would be willing to volunteer time, expertise, and chemicals to test the effects of sulfuric acid at varying concentrations if someone would be willing to donate several Kingston USB drives to test on. Load em up with media and programs, soak in varying concentrations of the acid, clean with distilled water, let dry, attempt to access data. I would imagine the issue would be a matter of liquid tightness of the seals, the chemical makeup of the plastics and metals used in the flash drives, and if/how the bits retain their state on the drive (I don't know much about the way data is stored in the drives. Non-volatile I would imagine as the drives don't have power supplies.).

Re:I would volunteer for the research (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347992)

And what, pray, does sulfuric acid have to do with anything?

Re:I would volunteer for the research (1)

chronosan (1109639) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348166)

You have some in your mouth ... RIGHT NOW!

Re:I would volunteer for the research (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348650)

> You have some [sulfuric acid] in your mouth ... RIGHT NOW!

No I don't. I'd notice.

Re:I would volunteer for the research (1)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348770)

*spittake*

Re:I would volunteer for the research (1)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348288)

Whoops, I meant hydrochloric. Had a stupid teacher tell me it was sulfuric as a child. Must've stuck in my brain more than I would have liked. Regardless, I have many nasty chemicals accessible to test on the drives. In the name of science, not just morbid curiosity, of course...

just a little cryptography (1)

Conditioner (1405031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31347874)

its a Message Digest...

Interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31347876)

I have washed and dried USB sticks before(Rally2) that have worked fine afterwords. It would be interesting to see how digestion effects them.

This too (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348090)

This too, shall pass.

Re:This too (1)

raddan (519638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348762)

There's the problem, though. It didn't. That's why they called in the surgeons.

Exec from TFA (1)

arhhook (995275) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348244)

From TFA:

A Kingston executive said it was unclear if stomach acid could damage a flash drive. "As you might imagine, we have no actual experience with someone swallowing a USB," Mike Sager wrote in an e-mail to TSG.

As opposed to, say, "HALP, I SWALLOWED A SERIAL!"

Rights violation? (0, Troll)

shaitand (626655) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348376)

Isn't this man considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law?

What right do they have to risk the life of a presumed innocent man with dangerous surgery? A surgery like this permanently disfigures, in our legal system you can't even sentence someone to disfigurement like this as punishment after they have been convicted of a crime!

If I were the man in question I would sue. If they try to press whatever charges are involved then I would claim double jeopardy, they have already exacted a cruel and unusual punishment.

Re:Rights violation? (5, Informative)

Violet Null (452694) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348600)

REGIS: For $16,000, the question is, 'What right do they have to risk the life of a presumed innocent man with dangerous surgery?' Your choices are...

A. The Patriot Act
B. The Alien and Sedition Act
C. The Jack Bauer Act
D. The part where he agreed to the surgery.

CONTESTANT: Hmmm. Hmmm. Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

Hmmmmmmmmm.

Um. I'd like to use a lifeline.

REGIS: Alright! Which lifeline would you like to use?

CONTESTANT: I think I'm going to use my "Read The Fucking Article" lifeline, Regis.

REGIS: Alright! Computer, please print out a copy of the article for our contestant!

CONTESTANT: *reads* Regis, I'm going to have to go with 'D', "The part where he agreed to the surgery."

REGIS: Final answer?

CONTESTANT: Final answer.

Re:Rights violation? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31348676)

Read the article. They surgically removed the thing, with his permission, when he had not passed it after four days. Intestinal obstructions can be fatal.

Re:Rights violation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31348686)

RTFA, moron. He agreed to the surgery.

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