USB sticks, digital cameras and portable media players are infecting PCs, mobile devices and other IT equipment at a disturbing rate, accounting for 1 in 8 malware attacks.
As eSecurity Planet reports, the USB drives and storage devices are as convenient and helpful as they are dangerous if unsecured, according to security software provider AVAST.
Researchers said the prime vulnerability is found in the “AutoRun” feature in Microsoft Windows operating system. AutoRun alerts computer users when a new device such as a memory stick is connected and is designed to help them choose what application should run with the new files.
“AutoRun is a really useful tool, but it is also a way to spread more than two-thirds of current malware,” Jan Sirmer, a security analyst at AVAST, said in the report. “The threat of USB-distributed malware is much more widespread than just the Stuxnet attacks on enterprise computers.”
USB devices are handy, powerful and convenient. They’re also a major headache for IT security administrators because they’re almost impossible to police and they can spread malware like wildfire.
Security software developer AVAST Software did some monitoring and research and came to the conclusion that roughly one in eight of the 700,000-plus malware incidents it identified were the direct result of tainted USB devices.