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Rajiv Singha

Safety Tips for Using USB Drives

August 26, 2013
39
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

When mankind was struggling with compact disks and floppy disks, the USB drive came into the digital world as a long sought relief. It made storing and transferring of data way easier. But as useful as these tiny gizmos are, they can also be a potential carrier of malware, and thus a favorite pawn for hackers. Let us see how USB drives, also known as flash drives, can be a big security threat.

Why USB Drives can be a huge Security Threat?

Used as a Pawn to Infect Other Computers
A malware code that can recognize USB drives, can infect your computer via an infected website. So, the moment you plug your flash drive into your computer, the malware might download additional malicious codes onto the device. And when this device is used in another computer, even that gets infected. Now, this malware code could be used to steal sensitive or financial information of the victim, and transfer the data to an external server. This stolen data could be used by a hacker for financial purpose or other illegal activities.

Data Loss
Probably the greatest risk that USB drives have is associated with their basic function itself – their storage capability. If your USB drive is lost or stolen, then you are risking misuse of the content the device contains. Now, this content may include information ranging from general notes to sensitive data like personal images/videos or even classified corporate matter. Standard USB drives do not have any built-in security feature, and if your data in it is not encrypted, then you can understand what’s at stake here.

Physical Access
The greatest boon of technology is its ability to reduce space; shrinking the size of devices as much as possible without affecting their functionality. Unlike the old school days, flash drives today can be as small as a toenail. Using such devices any miscreant who manages to get physical access to your computer, can download sensitive files including encrypted keys, passwords, personal data, etc., and use it to their advantage. And the sad part is, you might not have even the slightest of idea that your data has been compromised.

Autorun Infection
Autorun is a feature in Windows that automatically runs executable file in a drive when it is accessed; which in this case is a USB drive. This feature, however, is more harmful than being convenient. This is because, with its help, any malware in the USB drive can get executed automatically the moment the drive is plugged into a computer.

How to Use USB Drives with Caution?

1. Always use separate USB drives for home and for work.

2. When it comes to computer security, always treat the unknown with extreme caution. Never use an unknown USB drive on your computer. Even if you are using your friend’s or colleague’s flash drive, ensure that the device is not infected.

3. Use a reliable and multi-layered security solution for your computer. A malware hiding in your machine, as already discussed, can easily spread to other computers via a USB drive.

4. Disable the autorun function in your computer. Depending on the version of your Windows OS, the steps may vary.

5. Do not store information such as social security number, credit card number, bank account details, passwords, etc., in your flash drives. However, if you should do it, then get all such data encrypted. You can use software like TrueCrypt for this purpose.

6. To reduce the odds of misplacing your USB drives, considering their petite size, keep a designated storage for them in your home and office.

How Quick Heal Protects your USB Drives?
One of the thoughtfully implemented features offered by Quick Heal security solution is its USB drive protection.

  • It prevents autorun infection.
  • It allows you to block unauthorized USB drives from accessing your computer and thus keeps your sensitive data safe.
  • It scans external drives the instant they are connected to your computer.

A simple but useful technology is one that is the most popular with the masses. And this very kind of technology happens to be the most appealing to cyber criminals, as well. By all means, make good use of every technology you come across; but do not shy away from the need of using it in a safe and secure manner.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Rajiv Singha
About Rajiv Singha
Rajiv is an IT security news junkie and a computer security blogger at Quick Heal. He is passionate about promoting cybersecurity awareness, content and digital...
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39 Comments

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  1. I’am a computer engg. and running my own business. Many of my customer’s ask for antivirus and I prefer to give them Norton antivirus as it’s multi user pack key’s can be used on any system and each key get’s activated individually. Though I myself use QH but I cant provide them this software because of the coast and other activation limitation. So sir do you have any better option for me to buy QH software at lower price so that I can give it to my customers. Thanks

    Reply
  2. sanket ChoudhariAugust 27, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    Nice 1

    Reply
  3. bcdmohapatraAugust 28, 2013 at 5:32 AM

    thanks for your kind attention to the pc. once again thanks

    Reply
  4. It will superb and it is very useful

    Reply
  5. Jatin DuttaAugust 28, 2013 at 8:24 AM

    Very good antivirus other then, I likes its unistall protection. But its virus protection and how sucessfully scan I m not sure.

    Reply
  6. Nice article. very informative. In college a similar threat grew when my peers used pen drives without scanning the devices properly and thus resulting into a harmful virus was spread in most of our computers risking loss of data. After that incident we have stopped using external drives other than our own. I was not aware that malware codes can detect external drives and download automatically on detecting it. Thanks for the throwing some light on it.

    Reply
  7. Milind PanditAugust 28, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    This is where the QH team is unique. This kind of updates always reduces the risks the users have been prone to. A big thanQ to the QH team!

    Reply
  8. Your occasional articles like this on computer security are very useful particularly to those who have tendency to be casual about it.Any person working with computer must be conscious of threats posed by vast array of hackers who are generally a step ahead. Such blogs will always be welcome by computer geeks.
    Thanks

    Reply
  9. I have been using QH for 1 year . It worked nice but now there is a malware file , i quess, in my PC which prevents me to copy data to any USB drive making a shortcut of it. I dont know how to deal with it . Can you fix my problem ?

    Reply
  10. Sushil Kumar Saxena, Vasundhara, GhaziabadAugust 28, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    Sir, once i got problem in my USB port (Pen Drive ) even after QH. I contacted QH help, who also QH updates and virus removed from my Pen drive. My home PC also having QH, but on using same pen drive on homes PC QH always shows that infected file has been repaired. I could not understand file that virus has not been removed from that pen drive instead of file repaired. Office as well as home PC also fully scaned. Suggest me.
    Sushil Kumar Saxena, Vasundhara, Ghaziabad

    Reply
  11. ShrikrishnaAugust 28, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    This is good information.
    I have a problem.
    I used the tool “USB Drive protection” of Quick Heal (Anti virus pro 2013) to secure my Pen drive. But now I can’t remove it. So I can’t save any data on Pen drive.
    I took the on-line help of Quick Heal but they could not give the solution.
    Any remedy ?

    Reply
    • Hi Shrikrishna,

      You have mentioned that you are not able to remove the pen drive. If you can explain the issue further, then we can help you get a solution. You can also contact our support team at 0-927-22-33-000. They will help you resolve the issue you are facing.

      Regards,

      Reply
  12. inder sachdevAugust 28, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    I purchased a 3 in 1 pack of QHTS some 4 months ago.In this lap-top I am using the same. I uploaded 2nd one in my table top.To my surprise till date it has not been uploaded successfully.And i have misplaced the disc.
    Please help.

    Reply
  13. Jayanti ShahAugust 28, 2013 at 8:59 PM

    QH is very competent an Indian product. I want to know if any way to prevent hackers accessing our computers. Whether QH can alert us with his/their identity (IP address or location) as soon as the hackers try to access. Can QH prevent some one using external devices (USB, Cds) with password? How? I come to know some others(antivirus) provide this kind of utility.

    Reply
    • Hi Jayanti,

      Quick Heal provides protection against all kinds of malware, which are used as main tools by hackers to target their victims. IP address/location logging, however, is not present.

      Quick Heal Total Security 2013 includes an important feature called Data Theft Protection. With this feature, you can block unauthorized external drives from accessing your computer. You can also set up a password for the security suite so that no one but you can configure it.

      Regards,

      Reply
  14. kushal g waghmareAugust 28, 2013 at 10:36 PM

    very nice article… and helpful for understanding risks behind the most useful and also most harmful devices ever…

    Reply
  15. sir I am using Quick heal antivirus pro 2013, is my computer still vulnerable to the threats mentioned above?

    Reply
    • Hi Badam,

      Quick Heal AntiVirus Pro 2013 protects USB from autorun infections, and your computer from all kinds of malware threat. And if you couple such protection with the safety measures mentioned in the post, then your computer is completely safe and secure.

      Regards,

      Reply
  16. Sir,
    Iam a teacher and our school purchased Quick heal.its working properly but in between 1 pendrive inserted with viruses and now every time the message coming that please insert drive.also any pendrive if inserting,then completely that pendrive getting shortcuts of all files.So tell me what i can do?

    Reply
  17. Papan KarmakarSeptember 1, 2013 at 12:14 AM

    Sir,

    They Are Problem For My Quick Heal Total Security……..
    Problems Are Pendrive Input in Usb For The Hides My All data….

    Reply
  18. Ganesh GadalkarSeptember 1, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    I have got quick heal mobile security by axis bank. Recently I have formated my mobile, with that that application got erased. Now I have installed it once again. Logged in the application. I got validity same which it was having previously. But the notification flashes to purchase the application. So please help me to get the same registration code once again.

    Reply
  19. we are using 19 QH Internet Sequrity in our Company. we want to Block USB by using QH. can you help us to block USB by QH. plese help me as soon as possible.

    Reply
    • Hello Mitul,

      Thank you for choosing for Quick Heal. With Quick Heal Internet Security, there isn’t any provision to block USB drives. However, you can get this feature in Quick Heal Total Security. Quick Heal Total Security also offers other useful features that can prove beneficial for your company. To learn more about this product, please visit – http://bit.ly/1fXtAS4

      Regards,

      Reply
  20. Any Virus attacks the Operating System in the beginning. These infected files (part of OS) reside on RAM with booting. When OS itself is infected, how anti-virus program working on it can provide any protection to the system as such? I am not expert in system software functioning but understands the process from users point of view. Now nobody offers bootable CD with anti-virus program. Everybody supporting users via Internet.

    Reply
    • Hi Arun,

      Quick Heal provides Emergency Disk feature that helps create an emergency bootable CD/USB for Windows PC that scans and cleans all the drives. If you require any assistance with this, please contact our support team at 0-927-22-33-000.
      You can also raise a query at http://www.quickheal.com/submitticket.asp. Our support team will get back to you to resolve the issue you are facing.

      Regards,

      Reply
  21. John@NotebookserviceJune 10, 2015 at 5:07 PM

    Useful USB drives security tips. I went through the similar experience when I was in College. I used my friend’s pen drive without scanning it on my laptop. The result was very bad and my laptop was infected by dangerous viruses and malwares. It was very bad situation for my laptop. So, I would suggest that never use pen drives without scanning with the help of a good antivirus.

    Reply
  22. Does quick heal can remove shortcut virus….???

    Reply
  23. Sir,does quick heal remove shortcut virus from pen drive..m

    Reply
  24. i have face prob after install quick heal total security any data was not copy pen drive it show administrator rights error. so set which setting to quick heal copy data in pen drive.

    Reply