The most popular portable data storage device is a thumb drive, sometimes a flash drive. However, if your computer is infected with a file that can steal data, corrupt files, show intrusive adverts, or track your surfing activities, this might pose a serious risk to your system.
Fortunately, there are a few techniques that we’re going to highlight in this piece that can protect your PC against infected pen drives. Additionally, we’ll discuss a few programs that prevent infections like malware and viruses from flash drives.
Tips to protect your PC:
The following quick and simple methods will shield your computer from infected flash drives:
Don’t utilize a flash drive that you don’t know or trust.
Keep your flash drives for work and personal use apart.
Protect critical information from hackers by encrypting it.
Get a reliable security program (check the list below).
You should occasionally swap out or upgrade your flash drives.
Some of these pointers and tricks might seem too obvious to be useful, yet that is one of the reasons we commit careless errors that infect systems. Researchers at the University of Illinois scattered 297 flash drives over the campus as part of a study.
According to the investigation, 98% of these gadgets were taken by students and employees, and 50% were connected to a computer.
To prevent infected flash drives from infecting your computer if you accidentally plug them in, let me provide some very sophisticated strategies with easy guides (though it does not work every time).
1. Disable Autoplay in macOS:
There is no obvious setting to control this behavior, and macOS does not automatically play all removable devices. But you need to set up the following associated setting:
Go to CDs & DVDs in System Preferences.
In the drop-down selection for all settings, choose Ignore.
2. Disable AutoPlay in Windows 11:
All removable media, including flash drives, are typically auto-played on Windows computers. To remain safe against infected flash drives, you can disable it. This is how you do it:
Go to Bluetooth & devices > AutoPlay in Settings.
Switch the option off. For all media and devices, use AutoPlay.
Select the Take no action checkbox for both the Removable drive and Memory card settings under Choose AutoPlay presets.
Useful tools to protect your PC:
Even if you know how to guard your PC against infected flash drives and follow the guidelines, it is still possible for it to get infected. You must also purchase security solutions to safeguard your Windows PC from infected thumb drives. I’ve compiled a list of some of the best applications and add-ons that help protect your computer and data from the risks presented by infected USB sticks.
Antivirus / Anti-malware:
You must first and foremost install a reliable security program on your computer. A real-time scanning engine is one of the features that many of the top antivirus or anti-malware programs offer to safeguard you against contaminated flash drives.
Free software called Ratool (short for “Removable Access Tool”) aids in managing all external devices, including flash drives. It can completely disable external devices or disable write access on them, preventing any unauthorized users from editing or adding data to a flash drive.
A tool allows enabling and disabling every type of detachable drive, in contrast to the other utilities on this list. A certain class of detachable drives, such as CD-DVD players, floppy drives, etc., can be enabled or disabled. Additionally, this program allows you to disable autorun for portable storage devices.
USB Disk Security:
USB Disk Security can protect an infected flash drive against known and undiscovered threats. Its cutting-edge technologies stop USB drives from being able to read or write, defending you from dangers. Additionally, it stops unapproved users from copying data from your computer to a flash drive.
A portable trialware program called USB Safeguard enables you to protect the private information on your removable disc. It safeguards your data in a password-protected virtual drive on your portable flash drive. You may access or lock your data without needing administrator privileges on all Windows PCs.
Windows USB Blocker:
With the free and easy Windows USB Blocker program, you may block and unblock USB devices on your Windows computer. This app’s unique feature only restricts access to flash-based storage devices; other devices, such as internet dongles and wireless keyboard and mouse connectors, are not blocked.
Another advantage is that it does not need extra libraries or a system restart to block or unblock devices. Despite having a straightforward user interface, it also has a command-line tool that can be used in scripts.
USB Flash Security:
With the help of password-protected encryption, USB Flash Security is a data security tool that enables you to protect important data. It divides your flash drive into two portions: unprotected (i.e., unencrypted) and used to store the release tool, and protected (i.e., encrypted) and used to protect your sensitive data.
The on-the-fly encryption technology supported by USB Flash Security automatically encrypts data while writing and decrypts data while reading. Thanks to its release tool, your data can be decrypted and accessed on any machine.
Another free tool on this list is USBLogView. It lets you record and see any USB devices connected to or disconnected from your Windows computer. Each device shows the drive letter, type of device, description, date, and time. This list can also be exported as CSV, HTML, or XML files.
That sums up the several methods and resources for defending your computer and data against malicious flash drives. I hope you realize that a contaminated flash drive might harm your Windows PC and infect your system. Therefore you must be careful to use these programs and to follow these instructions to preserve your important data.