Inside TDV - The Data Vault Blog

Is This The End of USB Drives?

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Is your office still using USB drives like the one above to transfer information? If you are, you’re in good company as well over 90% of businesses in the United States continue to trust these as a primary means of transferring files and programs. But all of that may be about to change. 

As it turns out, these pieces of convenient technology are not quite as secure as originally thought. Uncovered during part of an expose for Wired magazine, two security researchers discovered fundamental flaws within the technology that allows them to be compromised by malicious programming – and there’s nothing that can be done to remove it. While still theoretical at this point, the implication is that USB keys could almost be “contagious”; infecting computer after computer by simply being connected to them once.

The main problem with this is that the security issues aren’t in what the devices carry, it’s the core of how they work. In order to defend against the flaws in the technology, you would have to treat the drives as quarantined from coming in contact with any other independent computer systems; removing any of the benefits of using them to transfer information in the first place.

Alarms about sketchy code on unsecured flash drives are nothing new, but showing the capabilities of the attack drives the point home; these’s even evidence that the NSA has been conducting this specific type of attack with a device called “Cottonmouth” for years. But the key takeaway here is that it might be time to consider secure alternatives to using these devices for file sharing.

Cloud computing has been around for a while, and while initially more vulnerable to attacks than hardware based devices security efforts continue to improve. Modern day enterprise grade solutions have an equivalent level of protection to anything else out on the market, and continue to make strides towards scalability goals. By setting up an inter-office network service, information can be securely uploaded and downloaded for file sharing while bypassing the risks present with using potentially corrupted devices.

Here at The Data Vault, we’re experts in helping organizations evaluate and react to a changing technology landscape when it comes to information management. With 30 years of experience, we take the time to watch for trends and consider alternatives that might best meet our client’s needs – and we’re never unwilling to reevaluate practices. If you have any questions or concerns about your current records management or want to see if there’s a better way to do things, give us a call at (502) 244 – 1151 and we’d be more than happy to discuss it with you!


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