Ever see those commercials, “What’s in your wallet?” Last week, I thought I lost my USB thumb drive and had images of those commercials on my mind. While I did eventually find the thumb drive, the thought of data loss did get me thinking about these all too easy to lose devices and what data people carry on them. My question is: what is in your thumb drive, and how do you protect it?Thumb drives are unique in that they offer the best and worst of modern-day computing. While they offer large amounts of storage and portability, they suffer from issues that include:
- Moving large amounts of data around traditional security controls
- Spreading viruses/malware
- Loss of data/loss of media
- Data exposure/loss of confidentiality
Some organizations now ban thumb drives because of their ability to move large amounts of data and the potential to spread malware. The Department of Defense banned thumb drives last year.
If you are going to use a thumb drive, at least disable AutoPlay. If you do not have that option, hold down the shift key while inserting a thumb drive. This will prevent the AutoPlay function from being executed. Also, consider some basic steps to help protect your data from loss and exposure. Encrypt the drive or, at least, the sensitive information. Some choices include: Truecrypt and DESLock.
If the thumb drive is lost, having the data backed up can help. There are many programs that perform this function. You might also consider programs designed to help you remember your thumb drive or encourage someone to return it if it is forgotten or lost. One such program is USB lost and found. Simple scripts can help you remember your thumb drive and not leave it after use, one example can be found here.
While encryption is a good start to securing your mobile data, you can always add my second line of defense. I have added a rather large lanyard to help make my thumb drive easy to spot. Mine is bright red with Novell text!