A security researcher, Ray Redacted, who is active on Twitter said that he paid $31.40 for a “30TB” external SSD from AliExpress in the interest of discovery, even though it was readily available for $39 on Walmart’s website.
He said that there are still certain deals that seem to be too tempting but would be might be an instant regret which we could paint as this one for exmaple. This “SSD” looks like two low-capacity microSD cards that have been hot-glued to a USB 2.0-capable board on the inside. Although the real capacity of the cards is substantially lower, this board’s firmware has been altered so that each of these cards reports to the operating system that it has a capacity of “15.0TB,” for a total of 30TB.
Another telltale sign is that whereas drive manufacturers use gigabytes (1,000 megabytes) and terabytes, Windows advertises disk capacity in gibibytes (1,024 mebibytes) or tebibytes (1,024 gibibytes) (1,000 gigabytes). This is the reason why a 1TB disk typically reports a capacity of 930-ish GB rather than a lovely even figure.
When it comes to fooling people into thinking it’s working, the drive is even more cunning. The directory structure of whatever you’re copying is preserved, but when it comes to “copying” your data, the tiny microSD cards are simply written over again. Everything will appear to be in order until you attempt to access a file and discover that the data is missing.
Several variations of the hot-glued microSD version and at least one that concealed a USB thumb drive inside a bigger shell can be found in the replies to Ray Redacted’s thread.
Even though this one makes extremely absurd promises regarding its price per gigabyte, fake USB storage devices are neither new nor uncommon. The best advice when purchasing storage online is to stick to name brands, purchase from reliable sellers (rather than just retail websites you trust; the Walmart listing is sold by “JD E Commerce America Limited,” whatever that is), and keep in mind that if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.