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Don’t Walk the Plank: Risks of Removable Media


Have you ever found a USB flash drive between the cushy seats on your city bus? Or on a table at your local Starbucks? What about in the weeds at the park next to your house? Maybe at the public library next to your work? In any case, we advise not to touch it.

Over the past few years, videos have been created surrounding flash drives found in public settings. Many of them lead the video creators on mysterious scavenger hunts, which they share with their viewers. But how real are the stories? Would you insert a random flash drive in your computer? Hopefully not. It could be loaded with malicious software that can infect your device!

What is removable media?

INFOSEC describes removable media as, “a portable storage medium that allows users to copy data to it and then take it off site, and vice versa.” Forms include: USB drives, smartphones, music players, SD cards, and Optical Media (i.e. CDs, DVDs, BlueRay).

Risks of removable media

There are many advantages to removable media, the best being the quick and convenient means by which you can copy, transfer, and backup data. Even though those advantages are great, they can also be your downfall. Ease of use can get you in more trouble than you can imagine. Viruses and malware can infect, replicate, and distribute themselves on removable media devices and spread far and wide.

Other risks removable media can expose you to are:

Data Security – USB flash drives or CDs can be accessed by unauthorized personnel. Maybe you forgot it at the cafe you were working at this morning and now it’s gone. Once a device is out of your hands, you don’t have control over who sees the information saved on it.

Hardware Failures – Did you finish up that big project and only save it on your removable media device? If you did, you need to back it up to another source quickly! All your hard work will be gone once Frank from Accounting steps on it, Susie Q forgets where she left it after borrowing it for a day, a fake delivery man snatches it off your desk, or it simply putters out from a short lifespan.

Malware Infections – Cybercriminals are trickier than ever in today’s world. For example, one leaves a USB flash drive in your work parking lot and you insert it into your computer. Beforehand, they infected it with malware and now your company network is infected!

Gather Round Ye Mateys, It’s Time for a Twisted Tale

Shiver Me Pictures has fallen victim to its second crime! John Doe has had some bad luck as of late (read his mishap with allowing a tailgater to follow him) and it’s followed him to the photography studio. As he sits off to the side of the front desk watching Robbie, the IT guy, furiously type on the company’s computer, he runs through the chain of events that lead them here.

It was a warm and sunny Friday morning with a light breeze to keep the humidity at bay. John Doe couldn’t stand being inside his car with the weather this nice, so he decided to walk to work. At the time, he felt it was the best decision ever. What was the harm in walking a few blocks? It wasn’t like he was going to pit out. It was only seventy degrees.

On his way, John passed the supermarket, dog park, shopping mall, and his favorite restaurant, Big Mike’s Smoke Shack. He was approaching the bus stop and decided to rest. He wasn’t in a big hurry. John left the house an hour early to make sure he made it to the studio on time, so there was room for a small break.

John sat on the bus bench next to a pink-haired woman wearing bright red glasses and a yellow and pink polka-dotted dress. She reminded him of the lemonade packets he added to his water bottles. On the other side of him, sat a man in a fur vest, leather pants, and a cowboy hat. He held a black briefcase in his lap. John wondered where he worked. He was about to ask, but the bus pulled up.

Rats! John thought as the man hurried onto the bus. He sighed and stretched his legs in preparation for the last two blocks. Looking down, he noticed a flash drive where the fur-vested man sat. It must’ve fallen out of his suitcase. The bus had departed, but John picked up the flash drive anyway. Maybe he can find out who the owner is when he gets to work.

Right after John walked into Shiver Me Pictures, he inserted the flash drive into his work computer. Oh no! It was loaded with malware! He quickly called Robbie and Robbie got to the studio fifteen minutes later.

Now, Robbie turns to John and shakes his head. There isn’t anything he can do to fix it. All of the information on the computer is compromised and the network is infected. John Doe sighs and thinks of a quote from his favorite movie, Pirates of the Caribbean. “Not all treasure is silver and gold.”

At Involta, we can keep you secure with our Security Operations Center. Our security services are innovative and advanced to keep you safe 24/7/365. They give you the freedom to focus on your daily business and not worry about security because we’ve got you covered. Contact us today to learn more.

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