Neowin at Digital Life: U3 BeSmart Drives

Oddly enough, one of the more interesting devices at the convention was a flash drive. U3, the company that developed the technology behind the new "smart" drives that are sold by various flash drive manufacturers, had a very interesting presentation. By "interesting", I mean the gentleman presenting spent half of his time throwing dollar bills into the crowd. He got our attention, for sure.

After the entertainer was done speaking, another gentleman came up and started to show off the new U3 BeSmart Flash drive technology. Let me tell you, this is one heck of a flash drive. First and foremost, the drive is automatically password protected. If you lose the device and someone tries to log in with the wrong password, it will prohibit them from accessing your information. Not only that, but if 100 failed log in attempts are recorded, the drive automatically formats itself and destroys all the contained data.

While security is nice, the "portable desktop" concept was even more appealing. At one point, the presenter put in his own BeSmart drive and, after logging in, almost instantly, the Windows wallpaper was changed to that of his own, and Yahoo! Widgets and Skype opened up. Along with all of that, a version of McAfee Antivirus opened and was actively protecting the drive. From that point on, portable versions of Firefox and Thunderbird (from were opened up alongside a sudoku game.

As soon as I saw this, I realized how this one drive could easily be one of the most useful tools for anyone who spends time repairing the PC's of every last person they know. Nothing was installed on the hard drive and all the applications closed immediately upon removal of the flash drive, supposedly leaving no trace/evidence of the applications ever even being run. Pretty useful for that small time repairman or the guy who wants to sneak some games into his office.

It's hard to admit, but, yes, I was amazed by a flash drive (and the flying money). Apparently, I'm not the only one. Almost every major flash drive manufacturer is on board and will have/already has their own BeSmart drives. If you're in the market for a flash drive, definitely make sure to check out these little critters.

Images: Login Screen | Applications Auto Run

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You guys should check out a recent episode of Hak5 - they showed how this U3 technology can be hacked somewhat to make the ultimate hackers tool.

Basically it works on the concept that the U3 drive can be modified to have a normal removable media partition, and a partition that reports itself to be a CD-ROM. Because auto-run is usually enabled on Windows PCs, the autorun.inf file is run on the CD-ROM partition, scripts are run, and you can do whatever you want on the machine just by plugging it in.

Quite impressive - but it does highlight the fact that any security conscious person should have auto-run disabled if they're unsure of any media they may be putting into their drives. And now, with U3 technology, this even includes USB keys.

Tip: hold down Shift while putting in a CD-ROM or USB key to disable auto-run.