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USB Flashdrives as Security Threat!

By nolipineda ·
We have recently disabled the ability of our Windows XP machines to load and recognize a USB Storage devices and we have been fighting fire ever since. Does anyone here knows of tech article enumerating the risk of removable storage and/or case studies on the web or tech news outlining the risk of usb storage?

thanks in advance,

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by Vawns In reply to USB Flashdrives as Securi ...


Hope this helps:,10801,109680,00.html?SKC=hardware-109680

It is also good practice to update your IT usage policies and educate the end users

Best regards,



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The only danger they represent is the same

by Deadly Ernest In reply to USB Flashdrives as Securi ...

that floppy discs represented. You have to balance that against the advantages of being able to use easy data transfers methods. The simplest way is to set up the system to do a virus scan of all drives when they are detected and to have the virus scanner running live on each PC. The same way protection against a floppy spread virus was done.

If you just disable the USb what is stopping someone who is trying to steal data from plugging in a newtork drive aand storing to that?

Examine what you are protecting against and remember you cannot protect against employee theft, just try to monitor or limit it through access rights.

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The essence of information security

by RU_Trustified In reply to The only danger they repr ...

" remember you cannot protect against employee theft, just try to monitor or limit it through access rights" is a sad statement. If you believe that one can not prevent insider breaches,and do nothing to prevent them, then it is only a matter of time until you are a victim.

Perhaps the reason why the theft of trade secrets in the US alone is now estimated to be well over $300 BILLION a year. You might want to check out the book "the Insider" by Dan Verton, it is a real eye opener.

You can add another $100 billion or so due to assorted privacy breaches, identity theft etc..

Monitoring increases awareness of the problem after the fact, but if your trade secret is gone to the other side of the world, it is too late already. Monitoring does not prevent innitially and you must rely on HR and legal involvement, education, policy creation and enforcement etc..

No amount of education will stop a vengeful act by a disgruntled employee triggered by an event such as a missed promotion or outsourcing.

Disabling USB ports compromises business flow and functionality. Would it not be better to have a technology that regulates employee access to all data and all of the devices at their disposal so that they were still available for legitmate use?

The fact is, employee theft is preventable but it requires multilevel security and a trusted computing environment. This level of security has been left to top security installations in the past due to cost and complexity, but we have now commoditized it in such a user friendly manner that it is cost effective and practical for even SMBs. This technology regulates everything that goes on inside the network by authorized users.
You may want to watch for it for future reference.

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SMB security IS available

by schwana In reply to The essence of informatio ...

Agreed, disabling functionality is not the answer, and often enough, neither is a security solution that costs thousands of dollars to implement. Email and document security such as Essential Taceo (tah-say-oh) is affordable and can be put onto any PC desktop without requiring server setup, and uses encryption and rights controls that prevent unauthorized access. More:

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email quotas

by dukeinlondon In reply to The only danger they repr ...

A lot of the need for removable media is because
of limits on attachment size for emails.

Lift that limit and you'll significantly reduce
the need for flash pen and such. The problem is
that partner companies and clients need to do
the same if that's to do the trick.

emails are no safer in terms of data security
but at least, they can be logged (so authors of
leaks can be held to account) and are usually
virus scanned at both ends.

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easy to circumvent

by Jeff Dray In reply to The only danger they repr ...

Most blocking of USB devices is done at the BIOS stage and it is fairly easy for a user to re-enable them in Bios to use them. Far harder to remove all driver support from the OS, unless you make the BIOS password uncrackable a determined person will get round it. the other problem is that they are very handy devices for support people to use when rolling out upgrades and new software. Where does it end? take out all external storage devices? CD ROMS, Floppies, etc.

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Lessons from the military

by mjlas01 In reply to USB Flashdrives as Securi ...

Recently the LA Times had investigated the theft of USB thumbdrives from a US airbase in Afghanistan that wound up being for sale in the local bazaar.,0,20**770.story?track=tothtml

The US military is slowly coming around to the fact that current security proceedures may need to be revamped, including the need to reinforce to its soldiers to be vigilant when USB drives contain sensitive or classified information. Any lessons learned and applied by them over the coming months will no doubt trickle down to the regular business community.

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Third Party Tools

by jnussey In reply to USB Flashdrives as Securi ...

You will find material at to support your lock down of devices, although it will come with the conclusion of buying their software. We use the product at our company so that we can allow some users to use these devices. The software also allows you to encrypt data that goes onto USB Flashdrives so that only computers on your network can read the data.

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Working in a high school

by the_hunteroz In reply to USB Flashdrives as Securi ...

I work in a high school as the systems administrator and unfortunately the disablement of the USB memory sticks storage devices etc. poses a particular issue when students have to load or hand in work, so i would say the disablement of USB memory stick access is a negative

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I'm with you.

by jgaulsr In reply to Working in a high school

I hold the same capcity at a college. The students would go nuts without thier flash drives. But, if someone is deadbent on getting thier hands on your data, they will find a way. 3rd party software(such as Winternals ERD Commander) allows for change of a local machines administrative password. I can have ALL your data then if I want, even deleted data or lost volumes. Scary, eh?

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