USB devices are a great way for people to quickly share data from one place to another. Despite the increasing popularity of the cloud, many people still use them. For example, you can upload images from your smartphone to a computer; store files on a USB drive and access the files anywhere; upload music to your MP3 player and iPod (yes, people still use these!). Nearly everyone uses USB devices in their day-to-day lives, but not everyone is aware of the potential risks.
As a business owner, you deal with a lot of potential threats to your company. But have you ever thought about the threats caused by allowing people to use USB devices? Probably not! Well, actually there are various ways in which a virus can infect your whole network because of one USB device.
The main threat which is often forgotten about is cybercriminals. Their objective is to 'hack' into your businesses system using a USB device. You may think that the only people that can do this are your employees...you might be surprised to discover that they are probably your biggest threat (and it's not always their fault)! Allow me to elaborate: one of your employees plug their USB drive into a public computer, unaware that the public computer they are using contains a virus. A while later, they plug their USB drive (which is now infected with the virus) into their office computer. Before you know it, your whole network is infected and there is nothing you can do to stop it. It's that simple!
Although this is possible, most of us know to be cautious when transferring data through a USB drive. But, this doesn't mean you're safe. Anything that plugs into a computer, such as a computer mouse or webcam can be a threat. So, why are USB devices used for cyber-attacks? For cybercriminals, USB devices are the easiest way to attack a company's network. Firstly, the USB device does all of the hard work for them. This is because it can bypass cyber defences you currently have in place, such as firewalls. Secondly, the victim of the cyber-attack will not know anything is happening as they can remain undetected for weeks. By the time the victim does realise, it will be too late!
What can you do to protect your business from the threat of cybercriminals? Educate your staff! Make sure that your employees are FULLY aware of the potential risks. Ensuring this will decrease the threat to your company and it will protect your network. Although, you will never be able to completely remove the risk of human error! Finally, make sure you have a secure security backup in place to protect your network when USB devices are used. Don't think that the firewall will do this as it will allow the USB device access to the network. It might be worth investing in security software to help detect the malicious USB devices. To finish off, you will never be able to fully remove the risk of cyber-attacks, but by taking note of the points above, you will certainly enable your network to become more secure.