Spy Files

Special advisory to all intelligence personnel: beware of hard drives disguised as key chains and pens. They have been known to contain everything from government documents to MP3s of incendiary rap songs. Be on the lookout for DiskOnKey and Q USB storage devices.

Produced by M-Systems (510/494-2090, www.m-sys.com ), the DiskOnKey is a pen-size Flash memory device that comes in 8MB, 16MB, and 32MB sizes. Upon closer examination, you may not believe the DiskOnKey is a drive at all; it has no moving parts, batteries, or power supply. But subversives can plug DiskOnKey into the USB port of any Mac, Windows, or Linux system -- no software drivers required. M-Systems hopes to license DiskOnKey to the usual suspects -- manufacturers such as IBM, which plans to sell a version of the device for $50 to $100.

Also a Flash memory device, the Q from EI Corporation (408/956-7950, www.eiware.com ) often masquerades as a key chain. Like the DiskOnKey, the drive requires no external power supply or cables and provides 16MB, 32MB, and 64MB of storage, selling for $70, $130, and $200, respectively. Although the Q now works only with Windows machines, expect a Mac driver sometime in 2001.

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