USB drives are handy! We use them every day to transfer family photos, plug-in your mouse or keyboard, or play MP3 music. They are super convenient especially when you have files that are too large to email or when you end up with no internet connection (no internet? What a crazy idea!). A USB stick has become so commonplace, we forget about the security risks.

A USB stick can carry important documents but it can also carry malware or an automated hacking tool [insert scary music]! Lately the big risk is BadUSB, which is a malware that can be installed on a USB device that completely takes over your computer. The BadUSB malware resides in the firmware that controls your basic functions. It can replace software with a corrupted version or it can imitate a USB keyboard and start typing. According to researchers there is no easy fix. Another concern is that the malware can travel from the USB device to the computer and vice versa.

There are a few ways to protect yourself from such vicious malware. Be careful with who you let use your USB drive and what computers you put your USB drive in. Turn off ‘auto-run’ on your computer, that way if the USB drive does have malware it won’t automatically be transferred to your computer. Use security software that not only scans your computer, but also scans any drives that are attached. We want you to be safe!

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Written by Julia Pinski