Malware via USB drives

Long ago, I recall the time when someone passed me a USB drive to copy some data onto my computer. Well, I did copy the data, but along with that, came malware. Did not realize that, till I noticed a few extra processes running on the system.

Now, a few points to note:

  • It is not known if any anti-virus products out there could detect that malware. Therefore, all the more important to be cautious.
  • If it is important to copy that data, you would never have imagined that the USB drive would be a vector. After all, it simply contains data.
  • Every USB drive can be used to start a program. The programs could be simple batch files, or complex executables.
  • On insertion of the USB drive, the anti-virus products may or may not have the capability of scanning. And if the signatures, are unknown, there is no way they know you got infected.

There is a very simple solution to this. Disable autorun from the USB drives. For that matter, it should be disabled for any removable media you insert into the CD drive, floppy drive or USB ports. Wonder why software companies like Microsoft leave this vector of attack still open!