Don’t pick up that USB Drive!

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with IDTheftSecurity.com Inc

What a very interesting experiment: Researches randomly deposited 297 USB drives (aka USB stick, flash drive, thumb drive) around the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus. They wanted to see just how many, and how soon after dropping them off, they’d be collected by people.

Turns out that 48 percent of the drives were taken and inserted into computers. The report at theregister.co.uk says that in some cases, this was done minutes after the drives were left in the public spots.

Picking up a USB drive off the streets and plugging it into your computer is akin to picking up discarded food off a sidewalk and eating it. You just never know what kind of infection you’re going to get.

And what you might get is a virus crashing your computer or stealing your data. That USB stick could contain malware—either left in public as a prank, or innocently lost or discarded without the original owner knowing it’s infected.

Or…it might have been left in a public spot by a hacker with full intent of gaining control of your computer to collect your personal data and committing fraud, such as opening lines of credit in your name or emptying out your bank account.

The USB sticks for the study contained HTML files with embedded img tags. The tags allowed the researchers to track the USB activity, which is how they new that, for instance, one of them was plugged into a computer only six minutes after it was left to be “found.”

Only 16 percent of the people who picked up the sticks actually scanned them to check for viruses before plugging them into their computers. And 68 percent simply inserted them without any regards to what they could get transferred into their computers.

  • Some users trusted that there was no harm.
  • Some plugged in the drive to seek out the owner.
  • Some intended to keep the stick.
  • Conclusion: A cybercriminal could easily take control of a business’s system by leaving a rigged USB drive in the parking lot, let alone get control of a personal computer by leaving the stick in any public place frequented by lots of people.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention.

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Rainmaker
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Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Robert - many companies give these out as promotional products.  Wow, how safe is that!

May 20, 2016 01:29 AM #1
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Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Robert- you're so right to compare it to picking up food off the street. Ick.  And Grant Schneider made a good point because some companies have given them out as promotional products. 

May 23, 2016 11:24 AM #2
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Winston Heverly
Winston Realty, Inc. - Atlantis, FL
GRI, ABR, SFR, CDPE, CIAS, PA

A great informative post, glad I came across it in the archives. Thanks for sharing.

Jun 19, 2016 01:24 PM #3
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Robert Siciliano

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