The Truth About USB Flash Drives

Posted by admin December - 26 - 2016

USB flash drives are helpful with everyday computer needs. They’re great for easily transferring and transporting files for work, school, and leisure. People often find them helpful when giving presentations, and they are just very convenient overall. But there is more than meets the eye when it comes to USB flash drives. These devices are actually great vectors for computer viruses. Sometimes people put viruses on USB flash drives and leave the drives laying around in public places in hopes of someone sticking one in a computer. Many curious people have infected their computers by inserting an infected flash drive.


Besides leaving the flash drives laying around in public places, there are additional ways that USB flash drives can infect a computer. If you insert a flash drive into a computer with weak virus protection or no virus protection and later insert that flash drive into another computer, there is a strong chance that you will be transferring viruses between the computers. When someone inserts a flash drive into an infected computer, viruses can automatically load onto the flash drive and stay there until the flash drive is connected to another computer. This is why you have to be very careful about which computer you put your flash drive into.


Some hackers and social engineers have taken this USB vulnerability to the next level by using USB flash drives to attack computer networks. What if someone walked into a company and said they had an interview, but needed to retrieve their resume from a flash drive? Some people, just to be nice, would let the person put their flash drive into a company computer. This can essentially compromise the the company’s entire network, especially if the company doesn’t have strong security software. There are innumerable ways that people can use social and technical skills to exploit USB drives in order to create virtual havoc.


Besides viruses, USB flash drives can also hold spyware, which is often more sneaky than a virus. With a computer virus, you usually know right away that your system has been compromised. Your computer may run abnormally slow, you may get blue screens, etc. However, with spyware, it can often be much more difficult to tell that your computer has been infected. This is because spyware’s goal isn’t to ruin your computer system; its goal is to collect your personal information. This is yet another reason why it’s very important to be aware of where a flash drive has been before you insert it into your computer. You could essentially be putting a virus on your computer, putting spyware on it, or putting both on it.


If you are genuinely concerned about a flash drive, it is better to be on the safe side and not put it in your computer. There are safe alternatives to using a flash drive. For example, consider e-mailing any important files to yourself or use cloud storage. These storage methods are typically safer than using flash drives.

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