USB drives are so pervasive in today’s world of technology, that it’s all too easy to become blasé to the many risks in using this very useful and ubiquitous technology.
Risks inherent with USB Flash Drives fall into two broad categories. 1) Virus/malware and 2) Data theft.
1) What Can a “Bad” USB Stick Do?
A malicious device can install malware such as backdoor Trojans, information stealers and much more. They can install browser hijackers that will redirect you to the hacker’s website of choice, which could host more malware, or inject adware, spyware or greyware onto your computer. While the ramifications of these threats can range from annoying to devastating, you can stay protected from these threats by keeping anti-virus software installed and up-to-date, and by using it at all times. Finally, do not plug unknown flash drives into your computer.
2) What can a “Lost” USB Stick Do?
So, you’ve taken all the steps to keep your desktop secure, your internet usage safe, your passwords robust… and then bringing some data home from work on a USB drive, you misplace the drive. If there was anything sensitive on there, the consequences could be significant. Fortunately, it is easy to protect yourself from this risk by keeping your flash drives encrypted. Although some higher end drives actually have hardware encryption built-in, there are several inexpensive software solutions for USB disc encryption. In fact, all modern versions of Windows and MacOS come with encryption tools built in.
For more information, try googling ‘USB safety’ or ‘USB security’. There is a large selection of articles out there on these topics. UTS would also be happy to talk with you about this, and will be sending more information in the weeks and months ahead.