How often do you find random USB flash drives while you’re cleaning up your office? Even with cloud storage as common as it is, there are still times and places for USB drives, so it’s not uncommon to find them out and about. The problem, however, is that you don’t know what’s on them until you plug them in… and depending on the contents, you might be in for a world of trouble.
USB Drives Can Introduce Malware to Your Network
USB drives are the tool of choice for hackers when systems cannot be accessed via the Internet. USB drives can be used to disseminate malware to a network, and due to their “plug and play” capabilities, they can be used with just about any network-connected endpoint. One of the more infamous examples of this is the Stuxnet worm, a threat that targeted vulnerabilities in Windows 2000 through Windows 7. It was so potent that it brought down about 20 percent of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, and since the facilities were not connected to the Internet, it is widely thought that the threat was introduced via a USB drive.
That’s just one example, though. Other threats can utilize USB devices to spread throughout systems. They can be used to introduce remote access tools to network systems, keyloggers to steal credentials or important information, and even ransomware that can encrypt and lock down systems, preventing work from getting done. Furthermore, USB devices can be infected simply by getting plugged into compromised systems. You or your employees could be spreading the problem without even realizing it!
Another type of threat is the “USB killer,” a device that causes damage on the hardware level. In essence, the USB killer is a drive that discharges power into the connected device, causing damage in the process. These types of threats do not introduce malware to your network, but they can cause other types of issues, like irreparable damage that could lead to you replacing a system entirely.
What Can You Do About It?
The biggest way to prevent these types of attacks might seem simple, but it is a two-part answer, as is the case with most cybersecurity responses.
First, you need to understand and know that these types of threats exist. Simply acknowledging that USB threats exist will make you more cognizant of them moving forward. However, this is often not enough. You’ll need to also take action to keep it at the top of your mind.
Second, you need to apply that knowledge and ensure that you practice what you preach. Employees who are aware of threats yet still continue to use these devices can be problematic. Make sure that they know not to plug in random USB drives found in the parking lot or received through the mail, and follow up with general or more specific IT security training as needed.
Let Us Protect Your Business
SRS Networks can work with you and your team to ensure that you have maximum protections in place against the countless threats out there. We can also work toward training your staff so that they understand the dangers of using both known and unknown USB drives on your company network. Additionally, we can monitor your network for any suspicious activity, so even if something does make it past your defenses, you won’t be left wondering what or where it is. We can remotely monitor your systems for any irregularities and address them appropriately.
To learn more about what we can do for your business, contact us at (831) 758-3636.