Saturday, September 30, 2006

USB flash drives and security

I had a great pleasure yesterday to participate in TechForum's live weekly radio program, discussing security and removable drives. Many thanks to Priscilla and Scott for a great show, filled with good ideas and great questions.

I wanted to expand on a few of those ideas. iPod slurping (the act of using an iPod on someone else's computer to syphon out huge amounts of their data and take it with you) can be a great threat in an enterprise environment. But even worse, I believe Dan brought up the idea of using the iPod with a full-blown Windows installation to get around security measures on the host computer. Taking that a step further, you can now do this with any USB flash drive by installing a modified (read, most likely illegally patched, mock picture courtesy of Tom's Hardware) version of Windows XP that can help you do pretty much anything with the host computer, for good or evil.

And as the technology gets better and better things will get even more interesting. During the show I mentioned a postage-stamp-sized USB flash drive - it's made by Sony and called Micro Vault. Despite its dimunitive size, it can store as much as 2 Gb of data. It's very easy to misplace something of this size. Most employees will treat their corporate laptop with some level of care and protect it from being lost or stolen. The same cannot be said of something so small that it's likely to go through more than one wash-cycle in its lifetime. Yet for the enterprise the consequences of losing that USB drive could be as costly as losing any number of laptops.


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12:47 AM  

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