USB Risks and How to Combat Them

By · Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

USB Risks and How to Combat ThemUSB Flash Drives are without a doubt one of the most successful and widely adopted pieces of technology in the world today. They make our lives easier by allowing us to store and backup our personal data. However not all USB uses are harmless. In fact, recent security breaches made by USB flash drives have called into concern for many businesses as to whether USB drives should be permitted within the company.

Like all technology, there are some out there that will find ways to exploit unsuspecting victims to either destroy or steal information. Many thieves or hackers go after your personal information intending to use the information they find to their personal advantage, such as spying on your email accounts or accessing your bank accounts. This has unfortunately led to an increase in illegal use of USB flash drives, but that does not mean that you need to stop using USB drives entirely either at work or at home. In fact USBs can actually be used to PREVENT malicious software from harming your computer in the first place.

So exactly what can you do to turn the tides and protect yourself and your company from the dark side of USB drive? Well your best bet is to be proactive and knowledgeable on how USB drives are used maliciously. First never insert a USB drive into your computer unless you know exactly what is on the drive and it has been thoroughly virus scanned before hand.

Second update your computers with the latest versions of virus protection and make sure you are running the latest version of your operating system. For example Microsoft recently updated XP and Vista to turn off USB Autoplay feature by default; which means that when a USB drive is inserted into a computer, the computer will no longer try to automatically play the USB. Users must now click on the drive to open it.

Next in the event that you store your personal data on a flash drive, always make sure you encrypt it. Free programs like TrueCrypt (Discontinued as of May 2014) or Windows BitLocker are an excellent means of managing your personal information while making sure that no one besides you will be able to access your data.

Lastly in order to turn the tides on the malicious programs, create yourself a USB security suite. Many applications for security can be downloaded from and provide a safe and secure way to scan your PC or others PCs for malicious software. If you couple this with Encryption software, then not only will you have a USB flash drive that secures your own information, but it can scan the computer it’s plugged into to make sure there are no programs just waiting to sniff out your personal information.

Don’t let the negative side of flash drives scare you; there are many tools to assist you in keeping your data safe and secure. So become proactive, don’t use unknown flash drives especially ones you find randomly on the ground, and be smart when it comes to securing your personal information. If you take the necessary precautions, you will save yourself a lot of time and hassle in the future.

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