Controlling USB Flash Drive Controllers: Expose of Hidden Features

Presented at ShmooCon X (2014), Jan. 18, 2014, 2 p.m. (60 minutes)

With stories of "BadBIOS" infecting PCs simply by connecting a malicious USB flash drive to a PC, it's time we learned about flash drives and their controllers. Consumer USB flash drives are cheap, growing in capacity and shrinking in physical size. There are only around 15 prominent controller chip manufacturers whom you have never heard of, but OEM for all the popular and respected "name brands" on the market. These flash controllers have capabilities that aren't mentioned on product packaging, and can be enabled with programming you will learn during this presentation. These flash controllers can be *reprogrammed entirely* via software to do whatever you want. Turn an old flash drive into an emulated CDROM or a CDROM + flash drive. Update the controller's firmware, disassemble it, etc. This talk will touch on the various controller manufacturers, features, and show you how to leverage them for yourself. Why spend $100 on an old SanDisk[tm] U3 Cruiser when you can spend $4 for the same features?


  • Richard Harman
    Richard Harman is an incident responder at SRA International's internal Security Operations Center, where he slings Perl code supporting incident response and performs analysis & reverse engineering of targeted attack malware samples. He writes and releases scripts in support of his work on github at Outside of his day job, he can be found hacking on projects at the Reston, VA hackerspace Nova Labs

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