The word "clusters" has been thrown about liberally ever since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak worldwide, as health authorities of each country scrambled to contain the virus outbreak. The UK happens to be one of the first few "clusters" or hotbeds of illogical conspiracy theories that linked the spread of coronavirus to the presence of 5G antennae. An online scam was spotted this week that put up anti-5G USB keys for sale. This is obviously fake, so right off the bat: don't fall for it!
This USB flash drive comes with a paltry 128MB of storage space (what is this, 2005?), and is being sold as a 5G protective device by a company known as 5GBioShield. The BBC first brought this to attention on Tuesday morning, with the USB flash drive carrying a price tag of anywhere between £280 ($345) and £330 ($407), and claims to utilize a "quantum holographic catalyzer" technology that will protect you from 5G technology.
Bizarrely, 5G has recently been associated with the COVID-19 outbreak by conspiracy circles, leading to acts of vandalism against 5G facilities not only in the UK, but also in the U.S. and other European countries.
Dropshipping sprinkled with conspiracy...
Obviously, conspiracy theories surrounding 5G abound. The scammers behind the 5GBioShield USB flash drive are well aware of this, and they have every intention of exploiting such ignorance and fear by selling a repackaged USB stick that carries a market value of about $5. You can say that this is a dropshipping marketing ploy that is undergirded by a conspiracy theory that has captured the attention of the gullible.
In its article, the BBC mentioned a publication by Ken Munro and Phil Eveleigh, managers of the company "Pen Test Partners", which specializes in reverse engineering tech products in order to identify possible security flaws. They decided to have a go at checking out the innards of this anti-5G USB flash drive.
"We're not experts in quantum 5G, but the sticker [found by removing the key] looks a lot like the one on file from suppliers who sell the same for less than a penny apiece," said Ken Munro in his blog post on his company's website.
"We think it was probably produced by Shenzen Tushi Technology in China," added the two security experts who reverse-engineered the USB key. Let's check out what can be found underneath the case of this obsolete USB flash drive. Will it come with some sort of state-of-the-art technology that tech companies would cower in fear, given the initial promise of "quantum" technology?
In fact, when Ken Munro plugged the stick into a computer, all he discovered was a 25-page 5GBioShield PDF document that served as a user manual. According to the document, the 5G protection system would be "permanently activated" regardless of whether or not the stick is plugged in. Anyone who has used a USB stick before would know that nothing is "activated" if it isn't plugged in, but if you've already gone that far to pick one up, let's just say you've just flushed down a very nice short holiday at a posh hotel.
The BBC has contacted the owners of the website that sells these fake USB keys. The latter have defended their technology very strongly, claiming that "we are in possession of crucial technical information supported by a lot of research," as informed to the BBC by one of the owners. Anna Grochowalska.
"Regarding the cost analysis [of producing the key] revealed by your research, I believe that the lack of detailed information does not allow you to identify all of our production expenses and costs, such as those represented by intellectual property rights, etc.," the director continued.
"In our opinion, the 5GBioShield is nothing more than a €5 USB key with a sticker on it. We leave it up to you to decide whether this sticker, in fact, hides futuristic quantum technology that is worth a whopping €300," the two experts concluded and not without any irony.