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Cyber Safety: Don't Share Your USB Drives
Written by Alex Wiederspiel
Last updated on August 05, 2014 @ 10:33PM
Created on August 05, 2014 @ 5:37PM
 
Those tiny little thumb drives you plug into your computer that store information may be a little more dangerous then you realized. They could be so dangerous that the U.S. government and its military installations no longer use them, and USB ports that they plug into have been banned since 2008.
 
It's estimated that companies have about 2,000 of these stolen per year. So what can you do to prevent cyber theft? 
 
If a drive falls into the wrong hands or you use a drive and you don't know where it's been, you should consider it unsafe to use. Those thumb drives can be reprogrammed to work against your computer and steal your identity. Someone could also reroute your internet, which could allow a third-party source to spy on you. These flash drives can also have viruses uploaded onto them, which is why some businesses are using extreme caution with unknown thumb drives. Pierpont Technical has a computer that isn't on their network that they use to diagnose the danger from any unknown flash drive.
 
"I have no recollection of anyone getting a virus from a brand new thumb drive," said Pierpont Technical and Community's IT Development Specialist Jacob Tennant. "That's one safe rule I do here with our own IT services. We do not ever plug in a thumb drive that we do not know where it came from or who it belongs to."
 
This isn't a problem that is widely known by folks who use these drives, and there was some concern. Besides the people who don't actually use flash drives, and those people are fortunate, those who do use them were a little surprised. College students in particular said they'd think twice before sharing their flash drives with other students.
 
"For memory that's all I use is flash drives, being a college student," said WVU student James Cornell. "Cyber security is one of the biggest threats facing our country."
 
And just to add to the plea for caution, a lot of modern day antivirus software can't detect the viruses coming from a flash drive. Your best bet is either to buy a brand new flash drive or make sure you never lend yours out.

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