Mostly people think that viruses, worms and hackers are the security threat for them or their company but it is not true.
USB Drives are very small and compact device which is used for storing data and carrying it around from one computer to another with ease but there are some features that make it convenient enough to be the reason of security risk for your precious data.

Possible security risks which could be associated with USB drives are –

  • Spread the malware from one computer to another – As USB drives are used to carry the data from one computer to another hence attacker might attack one system/infect one computer in an organization with his malicious code or malware, that can detect when USB drive is plugged into the computer. Then the malware downloads the malicious code to the drive. When the infected drive is plugged into another computer then it infects the another computer too.
  • Some attackers also target the electronic devices directly, infecting the drives and lot more stuff which are into production. When users buy the infected products and plug them into their computer then computer got infected with the malware present into the disk, which will download itself from the disk.
  • Risk of physical access – If an attacker get the physical access of the system then he/she can use the USB drive to download the sensitive information from the system for offline processing and could also put his/her malicious code into the computer for a backdoor for later access. Even computers that have been turned off may be vulnerable, because a computer’s memory is still active for several minutes without power. If an attacker can plug a USB drive into the computer during that time, he or she can quickly reboot the system from the USB drive and copy the computer’s memory, including passwords, encryption keys, and other sensitive data, onto the drive. Victims may not even realize that their computers were attacked.
  • The most common security risk of the USB drive is that they are easily lost or stolen. Losing the USB drive means the hours of lost work and if the information on the drive is not protected or encrypted then anyone could access the critical information which was present in your drive.(Read Protecting Portable Devices: Data Security for more information related to encryption and storing data)

Now don’t get scared and make the mind that you are not going to use the USB drive anymore. There are few simple ways, which one follows could easily sit on the safe side. Some of them are given below:

  1. Use security features – Use encryption and passwords on your USB drive to protect the data from unauthorized access in case of lost of your USB drive.
  2. Backup your data – Backup your data periodically to prevent the lose of any critical data in case you lose your USB drive.
  3. Keep personal and Business USB drive separate – Don’t plug personal USB drives into your organization computer and vice versa.
  4. Keep software updated – Use the security softwares like firewalls, antivirus etc to make it hard for the attacker or malwares to infect/access your system. Always keep the computer and virus definitions updated by applying the necessary patches from time to time. ( Please see Understanding Firewalls, Understanding Anti-Virus Software, and Recognizing and Avoiding Spyware for more )information
  5. Using unknown USB drive into your system – Don’t plug any unknown USB drive into your system and try to view the contents and identify the owner. If you find any drive then hand it over to the appropriate authorities.

These are few tips which you can follow and keep you and your data safe.

** Produced by – “Using Caution with USB Drives
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