The Dangers Of Rogue USB Drives

After watching a few Tik Tok videos on a Saturday night, I noticed there was an alarming trend being showcased by the social media platform. In an interest to pique an audience’s interest, there are videos being made about people finding USB drives out in public places. The person in the video finds the drive, takes it home, puts it in their computer, and then proceeds to check out the contents of the device. From a security perspective, this is a horrible idea. Don’t ever plug in a USB drive that you find out in public into your computer. If you are going to be plugging in the device into a computer, make sure it is one that is not connected to your network and preferably a computer with no data other than the core OS on it. That way, if and when things get corrupted by the malicious payload on the USB drive, your data and network are not compromised.

Compromising your data or network is not difficult to do once you introduce a bad actor into your home. Most of the time, hackers have to figure out a way to get on your computer or network. This is the challenging part because once you have access, everything else is much easier given the array of software available to both white and black hat hackers. Inserting a USB drive you find on a public bus is a super easy way to get on that computer with minimal effort required. It may sound like a fun thing to try to do or if you are generally just curious about the contents of the drive, but do yourself a favor and don’t put that USB drive on your personal computer. This does not just apply to your personal life. Businesses are also vulnerable to this attack and quite frankly, it might be easier to pull off as an employee. For example, imagine you are walking to the office after parking your car. As you approach the building, you notice a shiny object on the floor. Clearly one of your coworkers dropped their precious USB drive. The next initial reaction is to plug it in and try to find out who it belongs to. This is a very innocent action from a coworker that cares. This type of behavior is exactly what an attacker wants to happen. They want you to take that USB drive and plug it into your work computer. Then, there goes the company network infected with the malicious payload. I know it is a bit of an exaggeration but the threat is real!

Being a good samaritan isn’t always a bad thing. As mentioned earlier, the right thing to do is to turn in the drive to your local security office. If you are at home and you really want to find out what’s on that drive, plug it in to an isolated computer that has nothing on it. Be on the lookout for suspicious red flags such as the name of the drive or the contents of the drive. But, if you can avoid it all together, just get rid of the USB drive. Compromising your private network or data isn’t worth the hassle of figuring out how to get everything back to normal.

I’m an engineer working professionally in San Diego, CA. I’m trying to improve every day and use this space to document. Connect: apetech.me/social

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