Guest blog: Security warning over USB threat

Guest blog: Security warning over USB threat

Published: May 10th, 2016

Recent research revealed showed that 48 per cent of people who found deliberately planted USB sticks in a car park had plugged them into their own device without any checks. And this is just one reason why employers should have robust security measures in place to protect their IT systems.

If those USB sticks had been carrying a virus it could potentially cripple a computer system. That in turn could have a major effect on productivity or turnover which is a risk that no-one wants to take.

Employers need to ensure that they can control the flow of data into and out of their network safely and not jeopardise their systems. Every company should have policies in place to safeguard their IT and make sure that employees know exactly what they should be doing.

To protect your data you need to plan for the worst and assume that your computers will be compromised and you may lose data.

Always protect your information assets with a robust backup solution that guarantees you are able to recover files if the worst were to happen.

The research, carried out by Google and researchers from two American universities, was released in the same month that computer viruses from USB sticks were found to have infected PCs used at a German nuclear power plant.

The viruses were found on office computers and in a system used to model the movement of nuclear fuel rods as well as on 18 USB sticks used as removable data stores on office computers.

Top tips for using a USB stick:

1. Encrypt the USB if it contains sensitive data. It is a fact of life that USB sticks will go missing and they are so small and easy to fall out of pockets, bags etc

2. Virus scan every file you open on the USB, as you open it. Any decent and up-to-date antivirus product will do this automatically.

3. Maintain a pool and register of USB sticks; know what you have and who is responsible for them.

4. Block all USB sticks except for your pool of known USB sticks. Don’t let the unknown stick become a problem. You may need to invest in software to do this effectively.

5. If you are even the slightest bit unsure about securing your USB sticks, get advice from an IT professional.

CHRIS PALLETT has 20 years experience in the IT sector and is the managing director of Bespoke Computing Ltd, which is based in Telford but which serves clients throughout the Marches and beyond.

If you’d like to contribute a guest blog to the Marches Growth Hub, please send it to [email protected] Blogs should be no more than 400 words, accompanied with a photo and short biography of the author. The guest blog is a chance to share knowledge and expertise among the Marches business community and therefore commercial-style blogs will not be considered for publication.

The Marches Growth Hub does not endorse any opinions, services or products featured in the guest blog.

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