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Why You Should Care About USB Security Practices

By: Jessica Clifford



Does your company view USB drives as suitable devices in the workplace, while overlooking their safety hazards? Though flash drives are inexpensive and small tools, they are easy to misuse. The major issue is that employees treat flash drives as disposable and replaceable work tools even though they are just as important as a cell phone or a laptop.

Think about what problems could arise if your current work flash drive went missing. What information would you not want others to see? What lost information would make it impossible for your workplace to function?

We all know that securing data is an essential part of a business’ success – USBs are no exception. Therefore, you must take flash drive preventative safety measures as if it were any other device. The following tips are some of the top USB security practices that your company should include in their personalized USB security policy.

What USB Should I Select?

Software v. Hardware Encryption

First things first, never buy a USB drive without understanding what kind it is and which is preferable for maximum safety.

Software encrypted USBs are not as safe as hardware encrypted USBs because they can only encrypt the file you upload on the flash drive. Essentially, hackers can use a parallel attack to open your records. This kind of attack occurs when a hacker moves your encrypted files over to one or more computers to crack your password using a password cracking program. Since the password is only locking the file, it is relatively easy to hack.

Another issue with software encrypted flash drives is that you have to encrypt them manually every time you upload. The issue with this is that you may forget to encrypt the data, or worse, you pull out the drive before it completes its encryption process. When the latter happens, the file downloaded on the USB is not encrypted because the process unexpectedly stops.

Hardware encrypted USBs are the best option because the flash drive itself is encrypted. Unlike software encrypted USBs, hardware encrypted USBs do not allow files sent to other computers; this makes it harder to hack the password needed to get into the information.

Hardware encrypted flash drives do not require any employee training because the encryption is already part of the device. Therefore, you can pull the flash drive out and still have an encrypted version of the file.

Lastly, most hardware encrypted USB suppliers have a call center if you forget your password, need help with backup and restoring files, and perform remote termination if the employee using the device no longer works for the company.

Important Pieces to Include in a Policy

  1. Make sure you know which employees are using which flash drive. It may help to number them, and create a list for reference. Also, randomly check to make sure every employee still has their USB in their possession.
  2. If you are managing employees’ devices, then make sure they are not downloading personal information on the USB. Unknown documents can carry malware and viruses.
  3. Keep backup versions of the data on the USB. This way, if an employee loses their flash drive, they will have another copy.
  4. If your company supplies many USB drives, it might be worth finding an IT vendor to monitor the devices. The vendors can keep everything in order during random encryption updates or when an employee changes their password.

More About The Top USB Security Practices

Though a USB drive is small and relatively inexpensive, it is still important to take care of it like any other device. Therefore, employees using flash drives should treat their devices like smaller phones or computers, because they store crucial company information. If you have more questions about USB best practices, TCS can help. If you need a second opinion about your network, Total Computer Solutions offers free security assessments.

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