Typhoid Mary of Computers
by Gary Woods
There is a lot of Malware out there. Malware is files and programs that are meant to disseminate all manner of evil. One of the latest wrinkles for transmitting bad software is USB flash drives. In a recent test by audit firm Secure Network Technologies the company scattered USB flash drives around the office. Throughout the day, employees picked up all 15 of the thumb drives and plugged them all into the office computers. On the drives were image files one of which had a program that would run when the image file was opened. The file contacted the consultant's website who had no problem in using the data gained by the Trojan Horse to compromise the company's network.
Thumb drives are only the latest in a list of devices used to spread mischief. Any storage media, from the magnetic tapes of decades ago to floppy disks and Apple iPods can be a delivery vehicle for a virus, Trojan Horse, or other malicious program.
Microsoft suggests that if you're on a network you could set up a group policy that would not allow the USB ports to accept storage devices. There are alternatives to this idea like not allowing certain data to be downloaded. Products like Safend http://www.safend.com/ and DeviceLock http://www.devicelock.com/ could protect the user from some of these problems.
But probably the best thing to do would be to tell employees if they don't know where a Drive came from, don't plug it in.
If you have any suggestions or questions for me please drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or see my column on the Internet at http://www.santabarbaraproperties.com or call me at (805) 729-0910
Gary Woods is the Computer Trainer for the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. You can hear Gary on the Radio at 1290 AM Monday 9-10 AM and he is a Broker/Associate at Home Realty & Investments, Inc