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External USB HD question...

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Rupe, Jul 25, 2006.

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  1. Rupe

    Rupe Thread Starter

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    I have a quick question if you do not mind. If I get an external Hard Drive and have my PC boot to the USB Ext HD to do secure financial transactions, ( I obviously will only plug in the usb drive when I want to boot with that drive. ) Once the pc is booted, obviously the internal HD will be on, but the HD I will be operating from will be the Ext HD. (It will have a clean XP Install and nothing else on it, will not be used for anything other than financial transactions, banking and trading, NO Surfing, NO Email, Nothing else. ) MY question is this. If I am not "using" the internal HD, can any potential virus/key logger "Jump" from that internal HD to the Ext HD?

    Thanks for your assistance,
    Rupe

    And if the answer is "Maybe", is it bad to then take the interal HD out of the PC and make it an external drive as well? That way I will have two Ext HD, one I plug into for normal computer useage and web useage, and one I plug in and boot from for Secure Financial Transactions. I know some of this is might be considered overkill, but for real security I do not believe "overkill" exists.
     
  2. qldit

    qldit

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    Good Afternoon Rupe, you obviously are very worried about security.
    There are a number of possibilities with pros and cons.

    Firstly if you envisage setting up a USB drive as a bootable source it can cause problems, also your good friend Bill will probably have his hand out for more "duccats".

    USB operation is not all that reliable and will probably have speed problems.

    An alternative is to mount a removable drive caddy in one of your 5.25 drive bays with a standard hard drive in it, this will be similar in operation to your current system reliability-wise, and can easily be arranged to operate with it's drive having priority to the other fixed drive.
    This is a very handy useable system, "caddy in" boots to that system, "caddy out" boots to the other system. ("next comes wax on, wax off"!)
    In this situation your friend Bill will be there also.

    With regard to any of these arrangements it is possible for a malware thing to migrate across, so any of these systems would need the suite of malware protection etc also..

    So with regard to Bill and his crappy system and having his hand out, there is another alternative, one which is superior and will have the greatest security ability of the lot, in fact you need not worry too much about security problems at all.

    That is using a Linux program, as you are probably aware, Linux is pretty secure to begin with but it does need a bit of learning to get up to speed with it.
    As a simple suggestion I would give this Puppy Linux I am using a look-see, it is very similar to working with W-95, and very secure.
    It can be operated off a flashdrive or a small partition on your hard drive or using a drive caddy as mentioned.
    But there is another way, most amazingly this system can be loaded on a bootable CD which is left open, so the system loads to memory and runs as RAMdrive using memory as if it were a hard drive, and at the completion of a session can save back to the original CD. This naturally needs a burner to do this.

    This system includes all programs, including word processor, and all other internet programs etc.
    Stock trading programs would be available.
    This stuff is pretty cheap to obtain and plenty of help is available.

    There is some info here..
    http://www.puppylinux.org/user/viewpage.php?page_id=1

    I prefer to run it off a small hard drive, in fact this one I am currently using has a dual boot arrangement and the windows system is not used online. Certainly food for thought isn't it!! (LOL!!)

    Others will have different ideas, but can you imagine banking using an incorruptable Live CD, saving nothing, then shutting down your machine. Virtually bulletproof!
    Cheers, qldit.
     
  3. FijiJohn

    FijiJohn

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    Microsoft says it cannot be done. Others have done it but it is extremely complicated and quite tricky to set up. The removable caddy approach is much easier and used by some banks (among others).
     
  4. qldit

    qldit

    Joined:
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    G'day and Bula John, how is the Vanua Levu Kid going!
    Nice the see the cues and dengue haven't got you yet!!LOL!
    Moce.
    qldit.
     
  5. Rupe

    Rupe Thread Starter

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    qldit-

    I hope it quoted the message that you answered me with. I told it to do so. You ahd replied in regard to my question on Bootable USB External HD's. You had mentioned that using a 160gig USB External HD as the Boot drive can cause problems and speed issues. I do not care much about speed issues, so what kind of problems? I know the new motherboards allow you to do so. I am just going to run a couple of investing/trading programs on the External HD and only go to a few banking websites with that drive.

    You also mentioned the swappable HD bays as an alrenative. I am currently using that system, however I am helping a friend get setup and it would be cheaper to buy an external harddrive in a case that has no moving parts to get bent/jammed ( the drawer bays ) and just plug in a USB cable in the back of a Ext HD sitting on the desk when you want to use the "Secure HD". The various investing/trading programs do not work on Linux yet.

    So, in a nutshell can you tell me what bad things would happen if I set the second ext HD up with Windows XP ( new copy of course! : ) ) I would rather have both the internal HD and the external HD both in USB HD CASES sittign on my desk and just plug in the one that I want to use.

    Thanks in advance for your assistance,
    Rupe
     
  6. kiwiguy

    kiwiguy

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2003
    Messages:
    17,584
    Not all motherboards support booting from a USB device.

    Unless it is a supported activity by the motherboard, the discussion on the way to do it via USB is pointless.

    You would need to advise the exact motherboard make and model.
     
  7. qldit

    qldit

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2005
    Messages:
    3,390
    Good Morning Rupe, to begin you might consider that Windows is purposely designed so it will only boot from a fixed drive. (regardless of wether it is admitted!)
    This is to preclude portable systems which basically can't be factored into a royalties base.
    (regardless of wether it is admitted!)
    The newer trend with these systems is to lock and register them specifically to a processor motherboard combination end of story!
    When registered they are activated. (kind of thing! this is the basic aim!)
    Change your processor, new operating system!! (tough titties!)

    So installing to a USB drive is not a practical idea because of that alone.

    Further to this, a standard hard drive has substantially higher access speeds for reads and writes, don't ask me what the figures actually are.

    As you are aware USB has a driver system that has to load and commonly has error problems, or other effects which do make the reliability questionable.
    Generally there is no substantially vital involvement, because the operating system components are on the fixed hard drive, which has more direct input to the system, so a USB system would generally only invole lower level data re-reads and writes etc.

    I haven't personally tried your USB idea, I am simply using information from previous cases where this idea has been tried and am aware of these kinds of problems.

    Another interesting aspect is the power for a USB drive, the normal system is rated only for 500 mA as far as I understand, and although most USB sockets can deliver probably 700mA there is a questionable area there also, this also would include the way in which a USB controller functions with it's initial sampling prior to full power allowance.
    Some of the more power hungry drives would probably require a separate power source.

    Of course if you do have a suitable M/B and the where-with-all, it would be a worthy experiment.
    Obviously you are only planning to use it on one machine which would be limited by the operating system, most likely. (in any case)

    I would be most interested to see how you manage with it but would be extremely dubious with the information I have experienced in these matters to even attempt it.
    (Of course Linux will boot from virtually anything, but no royalties are involved!!)

    Conversely, a powered drive in a caddy running on IDE would be simple, no power problems, higher speed, less possibility for damage or plugged lead problems and yet still remain removable.
    Sorry no help.
    qldit.
     
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