Software

Review: USB Security Suite

If you need a tool that will lock down USB ports and eliminate sneaky auto-run malware off your flash drive, USB Security Suite is worth a look.

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Every once in a while we still need to sneaker-net our files across to other machines by way of the ubiquitous USB flash drive. It's far more convenient than burnable discs and is easily shareable with others, especially if sharing files over a local area network or though file-locker services like Dropbox are unfeasible. That being said, a crafty hacker can lodge some malicious code on a drive, which can then auto load and take over a system. If you are looking to take some precautions against accidentally compromising your PC, a tool by the outfit Dynamikode might be worth investigating.

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Product Information

  • Title: USB Security Suite
  • Company: Dynamikode
  • Product URL: http://www.dynamikode.com/products/usb-security-suite/
  • Supported OS: Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8

Some additional security

The aptly titled USB Security Suite software utility is just that, a means of defense on your Windows system against auto-run malware and other dangerous payloads that can lurk on an unsuspecting flash drive. Not only will this utility actually scrub a flash-drive clean, but there are also a few other features included that separates itself from becoming just an also-ran of anti-virus solutions with a limited niche.

If you want the host system to simply not accept any mass storage device hardware over any USB port, USB Security Suite can easily block access to the drives when inserted and, only when a password you set beforehand is provided, can the USB ports be re-enabled for use with flash drives. This arguably is more convenient than turning off USB ports at the BIOS level, which would also have the added repercussion of disabling input devices as well. A UAC prompt will appear anytime the block is enabled or disabled. Just as a fair warning, any password you do set blanks out after a system reboot, necessitating a password reset to resume the secure function.

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The password feature is great for keeping prying hands off the settings

Next up, there is a decent logging system that tracks any and all activity that occurs on flash drives mounted in Windows. In certain situations, this can prove advantageous if you need to find out what files were copied to and from the main hard drive, or if any of them were opened and modified. I find this capability to work similarly to the Event Viewer in Windows, but with a more focused scope, so you don't to read through other information that isn't relevant to external storage activity. If you need to keep more permanent records, logs can be exported to CSV and HTML formats.

Finally, USB Security Suite can prevent USB drives from contracting any malware from the host PC via the immunizer. You simply select the drive of your choice and options to prevent an autorun.inf file to be planted and to fill the remaining storage with zeros. Both of those options can deter possible malware, but filling a perfectly good volume with a massive DAT fill file can be wasteful as well as prevent you from adding any more data yourself without first deleting the filler.

Bottom line

For what it is, USB Security Suite seems like a hodgepodge of functionality slapped together in one place. Lately, most modern anti-virus software will typically scan for removable drives and proactively eliminate any threats before they activate. In Windows Security Essentials for instance, you can enable automatic removable drive scans without any need to initiate them yourself.

The only really interesting feature in my mind would have to be the USB locking mechanism. The auto-run remover at a basic level works well enough. But with new kinds of viruses out in the wild, I am unsure if the utility is really able to best the likes of Symantec or ESET. Then again, USB Security Suite is best seen as a tool that complements your existing security setup and not necessarily replaces a process.

At the price of $19.99 for a single license, plus small discounts included for volume ordering, it's a decent price, but I would strongly recommend that you first download the trial version of the product and see if it works well for your needs. The trial lasts 14 days and has no limitations on use during that time.

About

An avid technology writer and an IT guru, Matthew is here to help bring the best in software, hardware and the web to the collective consciousness of TechRepublic's readership. In addition to writing for TechRepublic, Matthew currently works as a Cus...

13 comments
j3hess
j3hess

I'd like to see a review of SafeConsole <http://www.blockmastersecurity.com>.

There's a suite of tools for usb security through use of registered drives which supposedly can be deployed across dispersed access points giving the administrator central control of access. 

I'm particularly interested in Device LockOut which blocks access to non-authorised devices.


Kensington is marketing it in conjunction with their registered drives and several others are also compatible, so there's a certain amount of face credibility.



Bill Prast
Bill Prast

No. echo '3-1' | sudo tee /sys/bus/usb/drivers/usb/unbind or Ubuntu echo suspend | sudo tee /sys/bus/usb/devices/xxxxxx/power/level

DucPhuc DaLat
DucPhuc DaLat

"USB Disk Security" for Windows by zbshareware.com

Scheffer Hein
Scheffer Hein

Just use Spybot and you are covered for every little eventuality.......not PMS

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

Do you actively block or otherwise restrict USB ports on the systems you manage? What tools do you use?

Matt Nawrocki
Matt Nawrocki

@Malcolm Jackson Ukip No you don't. This involves removing autorun.inf files and the like, which are ineffective in Linux. If you want to disable USB ports, you can simply turn the functionality off at a lower level.