USB Security

Hi. Craig Peterson here with a blink into USB thumb drives. 
Some of the characteristics of those thumb drives we all use create real security problems:
  • They’re easy to lose, and often contain private information.
  • If you have encrypted your USB flash device, then you should not be overly concerned when you lose it if your data is backed up.
  • On the opposite side is the security risk of finding a USB drive. Don’t think “Free stuff!” Hackers and Nation-States have seeded USB flash drives in coffee shops to fool people into loading malware and spyware without their knowledge.
What to do?
  • Don’t allow anyone to plug an unknown USB drive into your computer, and don’t plug your device into an unknown USB power port.
  • Take advantage of the security features of your USB drives. Use passwords and encryption to protect your data
  • USB drives are a type of storage. Make sure you back them up in case they;re lost
  • Keep personal and business USB drives separate. Do not plug USB drives containing corporate information into your personal computer.
  • As always, use and update your security software, and keep all software up to date. Use a firewall, antivirus software, and anti-spyware software to make your computer less vulnerable to attacks, and keep the virus definitions current.
  • Make sure your Malware Protection software double-checks any USB drives before you use them.

Encrypt Your Entire Flash Drive

  1. This one could also be described as the “nuclear option,” as it’s about the most robust security measure you can take. 
  2. You don’t need to buy any new hardware to encrypt your flash drive – download an app such as VeraCrypt, which will allow you to choose your encryption code and password. 
  3. Be warned, though; most of this software only covers smaller flash drives.

Do Your Research Before Buying

  1. Not all flash drives are created equal. 
  2. Some come with security features preinstalled or preconfigured. 
  3. As with all computer security, specific brands, companies, and resources are less secure and sophisticated than others. 
  4. Scope out reviews of brands and know what to look out for, as you would with any other resource.

Password Protect Individual Files

  1. Any Microsoft Office files you have on your flash drive can be password protected simply by assigning a password to them when saving. 
  2. You can also password-protect entire folders and sections of your flash drive with standard Windows 10 and MacOS10. 
  3. Additionally, you can use a light encryption app.

Avoid Cross-Contamination

  1. Most flash drive security breaches are due to flash drives infected by other devices.
  2. The most common cause of infection? Cross-contamination.
  3. Avoid inserting your flash drive into unknown computers if you can help it, and don’t use a business flash drive on your personal computer.
  4. Likewise, never, ever, insert an unidentified flash drive into your device.
  5. If you have to do any of the above, make sure you run malware scans as soon as possible.
  6. Some antivirus programs will scan attached devices as soon as they connect by default – make sure yours is one of them or do so manually.

Opt for a Hardware-Encrypted Device

  1. Get all of your protection in one by buying a beefed-up flash drive with encrypted hardware.
  2. These devices can run hundreds of dollars. Security services prefer these devices. They are an appropriate option if you’re storing particularly sensitive or important data.