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The USB Drive: A Rising Security Threat for Small and Big Business Alike

By August 19, 2013February 28th, 2023Blog

Two of the biggest security breaches in history have come, not from any hacking or spyware, but from the common household USB thumb drive. Yes, the one we all have at least two of sitting in drawers and cabinets and on keychains that we take to work every day. One of these famous events is a man by the name of Edward Snowden who simply walked out of the NSA with top secret blueprints smuggled out on an obvious and common thumb drive. Some say it was the thumb drive that took down the Iranian nuclear facilities as well by tricking an Iranian scientist into plugging in a rigged thumb drive into a nuclear network.

So if a simple storage device is dangerous to businesses like the NSA, it can just as easily destroy a small business such as yours. Since flash drives are cheap, fast, and compatible with just about any computer they’re plugged into, it’s an easy recipe for disaster when one is lost or worse yet, stolen.

There isn’t a lot that can be done about the thumb drive yet, especially since many of them are difficult to find once they’ve been smuggled into someone’s pocket unless they’ve been hooked up to a tracking device. However, there are a few things to keep in mind about keeping your office secure.

Make sure all flash drives that are brought in the doors of your company are approved. High security drives are available, and there are even some newer type of flash drives that can be wiped remotely if lost.

If you have sensitive data stored on one machine in particular, disable the USB ports. While most of us store information on a remote server or a Cloud service, sometimes information is still stored directly on a computer. In this case, simply disable your USB ports.

As always, keep your antivirus up to date. USB drives can steal data, but they can also deposit nasty bugs and viruses on your computers in a matter of moments. Keeping your antivirus up-to-date is one of the easiest ways to combat this.

While you can’t get rid of all of the security risks of these small storage devices, you can limit them by thinking ahead and being aware of what happens when a security breach does happen. Stay informed and alert – this will help you fight the security risk of the USB thumb drive.

Chris Forte

Chris Forte, President and CEO of Olmec Systems, has been in the MSP workspace for the past 25 years. Chris earned his Master’s Degree from West Virginia University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. He was a past member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a current member of the New Jersey Power Partners and Executive Association of New Jersey, where he has previously served on its board of directors. In his spare time, Chris enjoys traveling with his family. He also admits to being a struggling golfer and avid watcher of college football and basketball. He currently lives in Boonton Township, NJ with his wife, two daughters, son, and black lab Luna.