7 hour turn around

Despite a previous data recovery declaring their USB stick unrecoverable in Manchester, R3’s Sheffield lab is one of the UK’s best low cost, high success rate data recovery hospital.

After the customer’s initial contact with R3’s dedicated sales team, the enquiry came in at 15:23 and within 60 minutes we had a dedicated driver meet the customer to collect her failed device in Manchester.

R3 Duty engineers were on standby and the driver arrived at Sheffield Data Recovery Lab, Security House at 18:15. The USB stick was assessed and a method of recovery implemented. After recovering and validating the data it was prepared for upload to a secure server ready for download at 22:18.

Only 7 hours after the initial contact, the customer has a full recovery returned.

We remain committed to ensuring everyone facing deadlines can get the best data emergency but also economic budget data rescue options are available.

The Development of a Real Data Recovery Lab

There is a lot more to the development of a real data recovery lab than most data recovery companies realise. Some make easy profits by declaring drives unrecoverable. Some just run software and hope for a success, if lucky their £97 quote turns into £500 to £5000, others do their best within their profit margins to perform a rebuild and often cannot achieve a success due to inexperience or being under resourced. A real data recovery lab requires £100,000s to be spent every year in its development.

R3 Data Recovery Ltd has taken on the challenge to build a lab with the highest success rates of any UK data recovery lab and matching or exceeding the very best anywhere in the world. Sadly we are still competing against misinformation, fake reviews of competitors, fake forensic data recovery reports and fake Trustscores. Fake Google reviews and an inability to recognise that taking risks with clients storage is not the right way to make a profit is still a problem despite nearly a decade of publicising the Fields Data Recovery Scam.

Cloud Storage - Where and Secure

“Cloud” data is stored on hard drives (much the way data is usually stored). And yes, it’s probably more secure than conventionally stored data.

What makes cloud storage different? Instead of being stored directly on your own personal device (the hard drive on your laptop, for example, or your phone), cloud-based data is stored elsewhere — on servers owned by big companies, usually — and is made accessible to you via the internet.

When people think of cloud computing, they often think of internet-connected public clouds run by the likes of Amazon, Microsoft and Google. (If you use Gmail, Dropbox or Microsoft’s Office 365, you are using a cloud service.) There are also consumer clouds that, for example, hold your pictures and social media posts (think of Facebook or Twitter), or store your music and email (think of Apple or Google).

Each of these companies has cloud computing systems — computer servers and storage devices, connected with computer networking equipment — that span the globe. (Facebook’s systems can allow more than one billion people to interact with them.) Your data is in their computers, usually stored in a regional data center close to where you live.

Individual companies can also have their own clouds, called private clouds, that employees and customers access, usually over the internet and on their own private networks.

Storage aside, computing clouds can also process information differently; they have special software that enables workloads to be shared among different machines. Your Facebook photos, for example, don’t have a permanent home on a specific chip, but may move among computers.

That is a big deal. When workloads are shared, computers can run closer to full capacity, with several programs going at the same time. It’s much more efficient than stand-alone computers running one job at a time.

For the people running the computers, it doesn’t really matter where the data or the programs are at any one moment: The stuff is running inside a “cloud” of computing capability. Ideally, if one machine fails, the operation moves over to another part of the system with little downtime.

Nowadays, computing clouds are everywhere — which is one reason people worry about their security. We hear more and more often about hackers coming over the internet and looting the data of thousands of people.

Most of those attacks hit traditional servers, though. None of the most catastrophic hacks have been on the big public clouds.

The same way that your money is probably safer mixed up with other people’s money in a bank vault than it is sitting alone in your dresser drawer, your data may actually be safer in the cloud: It’s got more protection from bad guys.

In the case of the big public clouds, the protection is the work of some of the world’s best computer scientists, hired out of places like the National Security Agency and Stanford University to think hard about security, data encryption and the latest online fraud.

HDD Watch

The perfect Christmas gift to give that Hard Drive enthusiast at this time of year, the French watchmaker Jean Jerome created the HDD Watch in 2014 with a successful Indiegogo campaign, recycling 1” hard drives for the movements.

The idea sprang from a shoop on a watch forum, which Jerome pursued into a full-blown, successful product.

Today, you can buy one for €150 (for a silver case) and €180 (black case), with your choice of a steel strap or one made to look like circuit boards.

FBI Given Powers To Hack Any Device

The US Supreme Court has given a fatal blow to the tech world and its companies after passing regulations which entitle the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to be able to hack into computers. The powers will be essentially useful in cases where there has been a cyber crime, and they need powers to hack into phones. The new rules will also give the FBI to enter the victims phones, and the legislation will take effect from December this year, that is unless the Congress, both lower and upper, decide to make up contesting legislation.

Under previous federal rules that were in force which pertained to criminal proceedings, a magistrate judge could not just issue out a search warrant unless the authorities knew where the computer or mobile device in question was. This was due to the jurisdiction matter which would come into effect.
“FBI can now hack any computer anywhere in the world – whenever they want”

The new rule change, which was sent to Congress as soon as it was passed, however, allows a magistrate to issue out a search warrant regardless of where the device is and whether the know about its whereabouts or not. In most cases the location pf the device would not be known because most cyber criminals used cloaking techniques and methods such as the Tor browser. Over a million are known to use the location distorting browser for legit reasons to browse Facebook and other internet related social networks, but in those one million, there are also some bad crooks.

Privacy advocates and activists who have been following the news are concerned about the intrusion that will follow. One of the advocates, Kevin Bankston, director of Open Technology Institute, said in a press release that no matter how the FBI tried to block and sugar coat what they will be doing is simply government hacking. He said, ‘whether the FBI changes it to remote access search or network investigative technique, the issue was still that it boils down to hacking. And thanks to the rule change there would be a lot more of it now.

One visiting professor at the University of California Hastings Law School, Ahmed Ghappour, said the law change was “possibly the broadest expansion of extraterrestrial surveillance power since the FBIs beginning.”

The Supreme Court judgement also allows the FBI to hack into computers that have already been hacked. Botnet hacked computers are some of the most common whereby they allow hackers to take over and spread spam and distribute viruses through many zombie innocent computers.

Apple phishing scam targets UK users

SECURITY FIRM FireEye has warned that a new phishing scam is gunning after iCloud users in the UK in a bid to pilfer credit card details.

FireEye uncovered evidence of the attacks after noticing that 86 domains were set up in the first quarter of 2016 to host pages that pose as Apple’s iCloud log-in page.

People clicking on a link sent by crooks are taken to a page that looks on the surface to be the legitimate log-in page as it has the same design and imagery of the real Apple log-in page.

If a user inputs their ID and password they are told that their entire details are needed again, including financial data, for ‘security reasons’.

Once this is done, the victim is then sent to the real Apple authentication page to add legitimacy to the scam. By this time it’s too late, though, as the hackers already have their glove-wearing mitts on their entire account and financial data.

FireEye said it is clear that cyber crooks are deliberately targeting UK users of the iCloud platform with this particular campaign.

“This campaign [in the UK] used sophisticated evasion techniques (such as code obfuscation) to evade phishing detection systems and, whenever successful, was able to collect Apple IDs and personal and credit card information from its victims,” the firm said.

The security firm also noted that similar attacks are occurring in China, which is another major market for Apple, as criminals prey on the naivety of some web users.

Phishing, despite its simplicity, remains a major threat for everyone, including big corporations. A recent phishing attack netted £40m after tricking a chief executive into authorising a payment.

British mobile phone users movements could be sold

Hackers could steal users’ location data, finding out ‘here you are, how you got there and where you are going’, say campaigners

Mobile phone users may be unaware they are signed up to having their locations tracked 24/7.

British mobile phone users are one data breach away from having the routines of their daily lives revealed to criminals, privacy campaigners have said.

Mobile phone networks and wireless hotspot operators are collecting detailed information on customers’ movements that reveal intimate details of their lives, two separate investigations into mobile data retention have found.

Many people unwittingly sign up to be location-tracked 24/7, unaware that the highly sensitive data this generates is being used and sold on for profit. Campaigners say that if this information were stolen by hackers, criminals could use it to target children as they leave school or homes after occupants have gone out.

It is so detailed that it can reveal customers’ gender, sexual orientation, religion and other many personal details that could present serious risks of blackmail.

“Effectively consumers are opting in to being location tracked by default,” said Geoff Revill, the founder of Krowdthink, the privacy campaign group behind one of the investigations published on Monday.

“The fact of the matter is your mobile service provider knows – without you knowing – where you are, how you got there and can figure out where you are going.”

Such precise location data would be like “gold dust” for criminals if it found its way on to the black market, said Pete Woodward, the founder of information security experts Securious.

“The information that mobile and Wi-Fi service providers hold on location tracking is an evolving and high-risk area of cybercrime that needs urgent attention by the industry,” Woodward said. “Otherwise we will face the frightening prospect that such highly sensitive data could get into the hands of the likes of kidnappers and paedophiles.”

Krowdthink’s research found that 93% of UK citizens had opted in to location tracking, giving mobile phone and wireless operators unlimited access to their whereabouts 24 hours a day.

This data, the report says, “brings the cloud into the crowd” by connecting web users’ digital lives with their physical lives, making it one of the most intrusive forms of tracking.

Yet Krowdthink’s research, and research conducted simultaneously but independently by the Open Rights Group (ORG), found that customers were not being given clear enough information about how the data is used, or opportunities to opt out of collection.

Mystery shopping trips carried out by both groups found that mobile and wireless service providers are not telling customers upfront that all their movements will be tracked and used for marketing, and often sold on to third parties.

All the mobile phone companies contacted by the ORG said they anonymise data, which means they are not legally obliged to ask for consent to use it. But the group, which campaigns for digital rights, raised questions about the efficacy of anonymising such personal information.

Often all it takes is the cross-referencing of one set of anonymised data with another set of data, such as the electoral roll, to reveal the identities of the people tracked. Jim Killock, the ORG’s executive director, said: “Mobile service providers need to collect and keep data so that they can bill us for our services.

“But just because they collect this data does not mean that they have an automatic right to process that data for other purposes without our consent. If they don’t, they are removing our right to control this data and the risks associated with their using it.”

Britain’s mobile phone industry is worth £14bn, with 93% of adults owning a mobile phone and 61% owning a smartphone. Data collected from these phones, including usage, web browsing and location histories, is used to build profiles that are used by advertisers and other undefined businesses.

Location data is collected from the cell towers of a mobile service provider when it tracks a customer to route a call to them. There are now 52,000 cell towers in Britain. In some areas they are as close as 50 metres apart.

Wireless hotspots are also potential location trackers, with many public providers opting customers into tracking by default in their terms and conditions. In many cases these hotspots will log registered customers’ location as they pass through, even if they do not sign in.

Krowdthink’s investigation found that some providers, including O2 and Vodafone, use the same privacy policy for wireless as for their mobile phone customers. The combination of the two networks enables them to track location with even greater fidelity of location tracking.

However, customers do have a legal right to opt out of location tracking for marketing purposes and, with the forthcoming European General Data Protection Regulation, will soon be able to demand that their location data is deleted.

Krowdthink and the ORG warn mobile users to turn off wireless internet when they are out to avoid disclosing their identities as they pass through hotspots. They also warn people to be aware that they could be providing information on their location when sharing digital photos and video images and downloading mobile apps.

Killock added: “Mobile phone companies should improve the transparency of their operations by making their privacy polices clearer, giving customers’ information about what exact data they are collecting, how long they will keep it for, how each particular type of data will be used, who it will be shared with and the risks associated with this.

“They should also make contracts available before the point of sale and marketing and location tracking opt-outs simpler.”

If you need help recovering data from a corrupted phone, all of our techniques and processes will stand up to scrutiny in a court of law. For any Mobile Phone Forensics and Data Recovery Services please contact R3 on 0800 999 3282

Storming-fast Intel Optane SSDs are just around the corner

Intel’s Optane SSDs – which utilize 3D Xpoint tech and promise to be screamingly fast – will be with us before the year is out.

Yes, Optane drives will ship before the end of 2016 according to comments made by Brian Krzanich, chief executive of Intel. Indeed, as PC World reports, some of the SSDs have already been sent out to testers (mainly major cloud players).

All this is in line with the schedule Intel set out last autumn, when it said that the SSDs would be available to enthusiast PC owners at some point during 2016.

3D Xpoint technology is expected to deliver super-speedy drives and also system memory, although the latter in particular will be aimed more at servers and data centers.

Gaming goodness

The Optane SSDs, however, are not just for servers and are also aimed at enthusiast PC owners and gamers – albeit those with fat wallets who can afford a drive, as the early models will doubtless be pretty damn expensive.

Krzanich even talked gaming briefly, noting that the drives could revolutionize level loading times: “You can pre-load in a cache-like environment the next level of your game so it loads almost instantly.”
3D Xpoint has previously been billed as the biggest memory breakthrough since NAND flash was introduced, and indeed Intel has said it’s 1000 times faster than NAND, and it took over a decade of research to develop.

It boasts a transistor-less crosspoint (Xpoint) architecture which is somewhat akin to a three-dimensional chessboard, and this means that data can be read and written in small sizes at far faster speeds.

Fujistu Data Recovery

Fujistu Data Recovery Information: Fujitsu’s reputation has certainly improved since they admitted a few years ago that they had released around 9 million defective drives from their MPG and MPF hard drive series into the market with faulty chips (Cirrus Logic Chip). After several months of use hard drives usually failed to spin up, behave erratically, start clicking etc. This happened many years ago, but we still receive these old Fujitsu Hard Disks into our data recovery lab and in 100 percent of the cases we get all data back thanks our Fujitsu MPG Data Recovery Solution. When these drives fail it is essential that you do not attempt to replace a faulty controller board with one from a working drive. Information on the board is specific to the drive it has been attached to and it will not function anywhere else. What’s worse is that a different controller board can cause mechanical failure and dramatically increasing the risk of rendering your data unrecoverable. As soon as you suspect your Fujitsu drive may be about to malfunction, turn the drive off and remove it from the system as soon as possible. The sooner you power down the drive the better your chances of recovering lost data once you send the drive into us for diagnosis.

These days, hard disk drives from Fujitsu (including 3.5, 2.5 and 1.8 notebook format) generally perform with higher than average reliability than is available from other manufacturers.

Fujitsu drive’s can spin up and the head starts clicking right from the beginning with a regular clicking sound. More times than not this a sign of bad heads, if this is the case it is very important to perform accurate diagnostics and eliminate a chance of possible firmware corruption or PCB failure that sometimes could also cause clicking.

The last typical Fujitsu hard drive issue applies also to all other hard drive makes and models, the problem is called bad sectors. After some period of time the disk platters were the data is located starts to degrade and bad sectors appear. freezing, scratching and sometimes even clicking. Whenever the drive attempts to read bad sector it could start freezing, scratching, ticking and sometimes loud clicking. This leads to further damage to the surface and causes more data loss. As soon as you start experiencing such symptoms while reading important files stop the drive immediately and consider sending it to a data recovery company like ourselves for a free diagnostic. Any further attempts to read the Fujitsu drive would just add up to the problems and make more data unrecoverable. In our Data Recovery Lab we use expensive imaging tools that are capable of force reading bad sectors from Fujitsu Hard Disks. This is usually the only way to effectively retrieve data from these Drives.

Watch out for the computer takeover scam

Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK) is warning of people of a new-style telephone scam where fraudsters impersonate major companies and organisations to take over computers and steal money from online bank accounts.

There has been a recent increase in reports of this type of scam to Action Fraud where criminals are using technology to take control of victims’ computers from remote locations, after telephoning them and offering to help with a slow computer/internet connection.

To carry out this fraud, scammers are impersonating internet service providers, computer companies, banks, software firms and law enforcement. They are also claiming to be calling as a result of recent high-profile data breaches.

Remote access
The scammers claim there is a problem with the victim’s computer or internet service which is causing it to run slowly. They say they can fix it but need to access their computer to do so.

Victims are then asked either to visit a website or enter a command prompt on their computer, which gives the scammers control of the machine remotely.
The fraudster will take some time to ‘fix’ the problem, in some cases as long as 30 or 40 minutes.

During the call, the scammer will either tell the victim they are entitled to compensation or pretend to put them through to a supervisor, who will make the offer.
The scammer will say they are sending the money and will ask the victim to log into their bank account to check it has arrived.

But the scammers will still have access to the computer and will put up a fake screen which makes it appear the money has arrived. Working in the background, they will take money from the victim’s bank account. Alternatively, the scammers may transfer money between accounts to make it look like payment has been made.

To avoid falling victim to this scam, you:
 - Should be wary of unsolicited approaches by phone claiming to offer a refund
 - Should avoid letting someone you do not know or trust have access to their computer, especially remotely
 - Should never log onto your internet bank while someone else has access to your computer
 - Should not share one-time passcodes or card reader codes with anyone
 - Should not disclose your 4-digit card PIN or your online banking password, even by tapping them into the telephone keypad.

For further information please visit the FFAUK website.