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Man Swallows USB Flash Drive Evidence 199

Posted by samzenpus
from the chew-it-up dept.
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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Man Swallows USB Flash Drive Evidence

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  • by MachDelta (704883) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @12:40PM (#31346990)

    Next time, dude should use a microSD card.

    And maybe some mayo. Blegh.

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

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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.

    • 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

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bert64 (520050)

        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.

      • by Verdatum (1257828)
        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.
        • by dissy (172727)

          *woosh*

          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.

          The big stick. The pointy stick.

          The one they will use to beat the living shit out of you for months on end until you willingly and happily give them your encryption key to make the beatings stop.

          That stick.

          • by Verdatum (1257828)

            *double-woosh*

            My point is there is no stick mentioned in this story; no stick was needed. You made up said stick. Your original point is moot. If I was nabbed for counterfeiting, I'd love it if agents tried to beat information out of me. I'd get my lawyer to photograph the bruises and the case would be thrown out of court.

  • by eln (21727) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @12:43PM (#31347026) Homepage
    I am never, ever getting into the data recovery business.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Opportunist (166417)

      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...

  • by alman (86957) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @12:43PM (#31347030) Homepage

    data dump?

    • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @01:13PM (#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.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @12:53PM (#31347200) Homepage

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

    • 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"

  • by Merenth (935752) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @01:04PM (#31347366)
    I'm just glad we never got raided when I was storing data on the Vax 6000 tape drives.
  • 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 p

    • 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

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by HungryHobo (1314109)

      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.

    • by LtGordon (1421725)

      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

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by uncledrax (112438)

      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

      • by Verdatum (1257828)
        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.
    • by Jaysyn (203771)

      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.

    • by PPH (736903)
      There's probably a market for a USB drive storage case with a battery operated high voltage power supply. See the cops coming, push the button and smoke them all.
  • 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.

  • by Xaroth (67516) on Wednesday March 03, 2010 @01:25PM (#31347644) Homepage

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

  • 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.

    • by Ltap (1572175)

      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 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 dr

    • by Dunbal (464142) *

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

      • 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...

  • This too, shall pass.

  • Here's the "ads by google" that shows up for this article:

    https://www.ironkey.com/l-gov-evaluate-1?ik_c=USA_Branding_Content_CPC_Image&ik_t=IronKey-Gov&ik_s=google&ik_k=Content&ik_v=yro.slashdot.org&ik_ad=true [ironkey.com]

    I'm glad he didn't try to swallow that one!

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