Security Corner – USB Flash Drives

USB Flash Drives - Small agents of big security risks

Remember when floppy disks were the main vehicles for transferring data? As virus outbreaks increased, extra precaution was taken when files were opened on unknown floppy disks. An infected file meant a compromised system.

Floppy disks are now obsolete, but infected data can still be moved from one computer to another. Now in a smaller package with a bigger storage capacity, USB storage drives are small enough to fit on your keychain but deadly enough to pose one of the largest security risks to your company’s data. When opened, infected files upload onto your system, allowing an attacker access from inside the firewall, and it's small size makes it easy for insiders to download and pocket your confidential data. iPods and other small portable storage devices also put your system at risk for infection.

Protect your company by setting restrictions and getting the latest update from your security software. Microsoft offers a solution by enforcing group policies that turn off USB ports for storage devices. However, if the USB port needs to be used, the group policy can instead restrict the user and the user’s ability to download files. Products such as Safend and SmartLine’s DeviceLock allow you to blacklist devices, put the devices into ‘read only’ mode or block devices above a certain storage capacity.

It is also important that every company desktop or personal laptop brought in from home or from working on the road, have security software installed that can stop infected programs from accessing your system. Run a Spyware Doctor or Symantec security software sweep to remove any downloaded spyware or adware.

Most importantly, education is the key to protecting your data. Inform your employees of the risks associated with using these storage devices and media, including USB flash drives and memory cards.

About Brent Whitfield

Brent Whitfield is CEO of DCG Technical Solutions, Inc., which provides IT Support in the Los Angeles area since 1993. DCG exists to help our clients choose, implement, and manage IT and cloud solutions that are cost effective and reliable. DCG's pro-active approach to IT is ideally suited for companies who depend on reliable IT infrastructure, but don't want to spend a lot of money to keep it that way. DCG was recognized among the Top 10 Fastest Growing MSPs in North America by MSP Mentor. Brent has been featured in Fast Company, CNBC, Network Computing, Reuters, and Yahoo Business.

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