The report, from German data recovery company CBL, concluded that NAND chips from reputable manufacturers such as Hynix, Sandisk, or Samsung that had failed quality control were being resold and repurposed. While still working, the chips' storage capacity is reduced.
"When we opened defective USB sticks last year, we found an alarming number of inferior memory chips with reduced capacity and the manufacturer's logo removed from the chip. Clearly discarded and unrecognizable microSD cards are also soldered onto a USB stick and managed with the external one on the USB stick board instead of the microSD's internal controller," explains Conrad Heinicke, Managing Director of CBL Datenrettung GmbH.
[...] Technological advancements have also affected these NAND chips, but not in a good way. The chips originally used single-level cell (SLC) memory cells that only stored one bit each, offering less data density but better performance and reliability. In order to increase the amount of storage the chips offered, manufacturers started moving to four bits per cell (QLC), decreasing the endurance and retention. Combined with the questionable components, it's why CBL warns that "You shouldn't rely too much on the reliability of flash memory."
[...] It's always wise to be careful when choosing your storage device and beware of offers that seem too good to be true. Back in 2022, a generic 30TB M.2 external SSD was available for about $18 on Walmart's website. It actually held two 512MB SD cards stuck to the board with hot glue – their firmware had been modified to report each one as 15 TB. There was also the case of fake Samsung SSDs with unbelievable slow speeds uncovered last year.
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Ovrdrive does not encrypt its contents by default but has a uniquely physical security mechanism and can be rigged to self-destruct - by heating itself to over 100 degrees C:
Through GitHub and Crowd Supply, Ryan Walker of Interrupt Labs (via CNX Software) is releasing a security-focused, open-source USB flash drive called Ovrdrive USB, which boasts a self-destruct mechanism that heats the flash chip to over 100 degrees Celsius.
The Ovrdrive USB is unencrypted by default, so it should still be legal in countries where encryption is otherwise illegal while providing an extra degree of (physical) security not matched by our current best flash drives.
First, the Ovrdrive USB design functions pretty simply. It's mostly a run-of-the-mill USB flash drive with a unique activation mechanism. For it to be detected by your machine, you have to rapidly insert the drive three consecutive times actually to turn it on. Failure to do so will hide the drive's partition and give the impression that it's broken. Initially, it was supposed to self-destruct, but it proved too challenging to mass produce, forcing Walker to change the drive.
[...] In its crowdfunding campaign on Crowd Supply, the flash drive is slated for an August 2024 release and priced at $69 with free US domestic shipping or $12 international shipping for the rest of the world. At the original time of writing, the flash drive has reached 70% of its funding, with two days remaining on the funding deadline.