White Papers Index

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:

  1. Software

    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 information, 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 anyone’s needs.

    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 you.
  2. Hardware

    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, here’s 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 Drive, on/off buttons, network ports
  3. Education

    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 computer 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 they’ll 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 25 years.

 

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