Feeds

USB drives pose insider threat

The latest 'Trojan horse'

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Many worms have done an end run around a corporate network's perimeter security by hitching a ride on a laptop brought home by a worker. USB smart drives present a similar problem for companies and should be managed in a similar way, said Kate Purmal, CEO of U3, a maker of the U3 smart drive platform.

"The right solution for this is the management system used by the company to control the endpoints should also manage the USB ports," Purmal said. "The company should have security at each endpoint that prevents a vanilla device from off the street being plugged into the computer."

Purmal stressed that corporate security managers should not focus on a single scenario, but also consider other issues, such as protecting information on USB drives lost by employees and preventing viruses from being transported from a worker's home computer into the office on USB drives. Companies considering allowing USB drives should create policies that mandate encryption, allow centralised management of the USB ports on every computer, protect desktops with anti-virus and anti-spyware tools, and potentially adopt technology to erase data on USB drives that have been lost or stolen.

Specific industries, such as finance and healthcare, may also need to account for what data was copied to a particular USB drive, AdvancedForce's Chernavsky said.

"If you give someone permission to use a thumb drive, you need to be able to track what data they move to it," he said.

Moreover, the policies and audit functionality need to stand up to even a savvy user sitting at the keyboard, said Dor Skuler, vice president of business development for device-security software maker Safend.

"You want to make sure that the policies cannot be uninstalled," Skuler said.

However, as the attack on the credit union shows, a malicious insider is not necessary if a Trojan horse can be delivered inside the company by an unwitting employee.

Even the most trustworthy employees could fall prey to tactics such as those employed by Secure Network Technologies. A USB drive has allure for some people, not only because the data stored on the drive might pique a person's curiosity, but also because the memory can be reused.

Those twin lures of curiosity and utility, in the end, make USB drives a powerful Trojan horse, Secure Network Technologies' Stasiukonis said.

"Social engineering is always the easiest way to compromise a network, because people are typically very friendly and trusting," he said.

This article originally appeared in Security Focus.

Copyright © 2006, SecurityFocus

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Knock Knock tool makes a joke of Mac AV
Yes, we know Macs 'don't get viruses', but when they do this code'll spot 'em
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Why weasel words might not work for Whisper
CEO suspends editor but privacy questions remain
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
BlackEnergy crimeware coursing through US control systems
US CERT says three flavours of control kit are under attack
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.