3 Approaches to USB Security
“It’s not responding to anti-virus software…1,200
computers are infected…they all have to be shut down…it’ll
take over 2,000 hours to fix it…We’re in CRISIS MODE!”
Does this sound like a challenge you want your organization to face?
This year alone, quite a few have already had to.
USB drives and ports were intended to help transfer information from
one device to another more efficiently. Unfortunately for us good guys,
things don’t always go as planned. Along with helping organizations
big and small, USB ports have also opened our computers up to the potential
introduction of viruses and the loss of precious data. But we can’t
just switch them off because we need to use them to get our work done!
So what are we supposed to do?? It’s quite a conundrum!
So how do we secure those ports to only allow the good guys to use them?
Let me show you three ways to get started:
A lot of people are under the impression that they absolutely
have to buy software to secure their USB ports. Unbeknownst to them, Microsoft
has built in the capability to lock down your USB ports. For more
check out this Microsoft
knowledge Base article. Unfortunately, this
is an all or nothing solution.
For those of you out there that need
a little added security – perhaps
more than Microsoft alone can provide you – there are software
programs available for purchase that allow more options when it comes
to granting and denying access to USB ports. If you are looking to buy
something like this, you’ll notice that these programs are VERY
flexible. Most have the ability to assign read only access, read/ write
capabilities, complete denial or full control to certain devices or files.
You can program the software to allow only certain media, like a keyboard
or mouse, but deny everything else. You can grant temporary or scheduled
access to certain media or file types, and also control which applications
users are allowed to transfer to and from removable devices. Most allow
you to assign these settings to a particular user or group name, and
apply them to whatever machine that user logs onto. All in all, these
software programs are very adaptable, and can be tweaked to fit almost
As I personally have not had the need to purchase
any software like this, I don’t have a recommendation for you (Sorry ?). But, if
you are really interested in this stuff, do some research before you
buy it! I would suggest going to Google and typing “USB port security
options” or “USB port security software” into the search
bar. And just like magic… many helpful things will appear before
If the software I mentioned above sounds a little too over-the-top-fort-Knox-ish
for your situation, you may want to think about a physical solution.
First off, you can opt to get a PS2 keyboard and mouse. These units
plug into special jacks, not USB ports. By plugging your necessities
into these jacks and avoiding USB ports altogether, you leave
the option open to use Microsoft’s method of switching the ports
off completely, preventing any connection whatsoever. These jacks are
found on most computers,
but not all, so make sure to check that your equipment has them
before you go buying things.
If you don’t have the keyboard and mouse jacks, or just plain
don’t like the thought of getting used to a new mouse,
a thought for you: there are locks on the market that trap the
cable connecting your keyboard or mouse to your computer, and
keep it there!
It cannot be unplugged from the USB port without a key. If you
ask me, this is kind of like a double-dose security lock. Not
only does it prevent
people from plugging into your USB drive, it keeps your peripherals
in place too! How can someone steal a keyboard that they can’t
unplug from your tower?! If you’re really interested in
this type of lock, go to Google and search for “USB port
lock”. And again, like
magic… many helpful things will appear before you. Choose
wisely. (Or try them all! They’re not bank-breakingly-expensive
or anything.) Or take a look at our CoverLocks
for USB Security,
these locks can restrict or block access to ANY USB drive, CD
buttons, network ports
The truth is that most computers can be kept virus-free with a little
education and common sense. Teach your employees about the
dangers of opening questionable files and transferring data between a work
and personal device. Most people are unaware that viruses
can be transported on all sorts of media, even music and picture files.
No one wants to
be responsible for causing a network crash because they uploaded
the latest audio from last night’s episode of American idol. Let your
co-workers know about potential threats, and I’m sure
be eager to help protect themselves and the business.
For more ways
to keep your computers, laptops, and AV equipment safe,
call us at (800) 466-7636. It’s been our own personal
mission to keep your equipment safe for the last