USB Keys are an extremely convenient and cost effective method of transporting data.
In the business space, they are often used is with professionals, managers and executives who take their work home. They transfer the files to a USB key, work on the files on a home computer and then transfer it back into the business via the same USB Key.
If any home PC is not protected by the right commercial desktop security software and internet firewall, you’ve got a high risk and reasonable probability the following will occur at some point:
1. A home PC will get infected and you won’t know.
2. The home PC transfers the infection to the USB Key without the user knowing.
3. The USB Key transports the infection to the business network and business systems when it it plugged back into a corporate desktop or notebook.
This risk of this simple and common method of infecting corporate computers and networks can be easily reduced by:
1. Ensuring you have, what is called “endpoint protection” on every single computing device in your network.
– All it takes is one computer that is not protected for a virus (or other infection) to spread.
– Pay for your endpoint protection software; put simply: you get what you pay for. I’m not saying nil cost Antivirus software is bad, far from it…..Think about the carefactor of a free / community contributed application in the event of an outbreak or security breach (sorry, we’ll do our best, but we are a free service). Even packages you pay for are not perfect, but at least the company has a much higher reason to care (its their reputation and their business) and they pay people to keep your protection current.
2. Make sure your operating systems and applications are “patched” and kept properly maintained.
– This is one of the most common ways hackers get into your computers. They prey on the fact that humans are inherently lazy or just don’t know any better.
3. Review the opportunity of extending your endpoint protection to offering your staff the ability to load and run your commercially paid for endpoint protection packages on their home computers.
4. Consider an endpoint protection package that allows you to play around with the transport or data in / out of the computer and network.
– One that can disable USB ports, monitor / log data transferred in or out of the USB port, only allow ratified USB devices to be used, etc.
I can’t stress enough, there is no panacea. In the same vein the cost to the business is big enough to take the problem seriously. The ever increasing reliance on the internet and web applications is just going to allow the problem to get bigger. It’s not worth waiting if you’re not well protected today.
Any security breach can cause significant impact to business operations. It’s well worth the cost of making sure you’ve got the right insurance policies in place.