Newer Gadgets Provide Conveniences and Risks

New technologies have always brought about new ways in which sensitive information can be leaked to people who its owners don’t want to possess it. When the copy machine was introduced back in the nineteen sixties, copies of important documents suddenly started finding their ways out of both government and corporate offices, hidden recording devices have been the stuff of spy novels for decades, and even the first words carved into stone tablets were probably used (albeit somewhat laboriously) to transport sensitive information where it wasn’t supposed to go.

Now security threats are more serious than ever thanks to newer technologies that are built into gadgets that are cheaper and more reliable than the spy tools of decades passed and considerably more portable than copy machines (and the papers that come out of them) or stone tablets. One of the types of gadgets to attract the most attention as a potential security threat is the USB key. For anyone who isn’t familiar with this device, it’s a device small enough to fit onto a key chain that can be plugged into the USB port of a computer and have various kinds of data loaded onto it. It’s essentially a portable data storage device based on flash memory and it’s perfect for backing up files or transferring them from one computer to another in the absence of a local area network. The fact that this technology could be used to sneak sensitive information past firewalls goes without saying and has probably happened more times than anyone is really aware of.

Now USB and flash technology have been taken a step farther by being combined with MP3 recording technology and then hiding the electronics in inconspicuous items. For example, it’s now possible to get a pen with a built in microphone and flash memory that allow it to record conversations into MP3 format. This device is advertised as a personal note taking device and for used for gathering evidence of on the job harassment, but it could also obviously be used for eavesdropping as well. In addition to these features this pen also functions as a USB drive both for uploading recordings to a computer and for data storage. It also looks a lot like a normal pen and actually writes as well.

There are also similar combinations of devices hidden in wrist watching. The USB connection is hidden in the band and the unit is equipped with a jack for an earphone. Incidentally, both the pen and the watch come with options of 256 MB, 512 MB, and 1 GB capacities and can be used as normal MP3 players as well.

In addition to USB/MP3 players/recorders, it’s also easy to find a variety of other devices that could be used for some sketchy purposes on the Internet as well. For example, you can get various forms of hidden video cameras, remote listening devices, and other electronic devices that can be used for somewhat nefarious ends. While it may seem disconcerting that just about anyone could get a hold of these devices and use them to get personal information about anyone else, it should be reassuring to know that Bug detection devices are also easily available.

Even though all of this technology could be used in order to breach security and for other less than noble purposes, it’s important to keep in mind that the vast majority of gadgets out there are primarily used to make life much safer and more convenient.

A pioneer in technology reporting, Julia Hall has published articles about the latest digital devices and gadgets for over ten years. After graduating from MIT with a degree in electrical engineering, Julia turned down huge salaries from some of the most recognized fortune 500 companies in the world to pursue her dream of becoming a leading consumer advocate. Julia uses his expertise to cut through the too good to be true deals offered by high tech companies to reveal the real steals and the real duds that we’re bombarded with daily. If you enjoy staying on the cutting edge of technology
, whether for business or pleasure, but find yourself occassionaly confused by the overwhelming and convoluted information out there let Julia show you the way.