Security+ Objective 1.2 Explain the security risks pertaining to system hardware and peripherals – USB devices

thumb driveThere are many types of USB devices, but there are only a couple that you need to know about.  The main threat of USB devices comes from USB drives (also called flash drives, thumb drives, jump drives, etc.).  These drives can have a very large capacity in a small, easy to conceal package.  Sometimes they are built into ordinary looking pens.  They are capable of stealing massive amounts of sensitive data from highly secure environments.  They can also introduce unauthorized or damaging software into a secure environment. 

One social engineering tactic is to leave a malware loaded USB drive in the parking lot of a company.  As employees come to work, someone is sure to find it and plug it in to their computer, opening the doorway to infect the whole network.

To prevent data theft and other risks associated with USB drives, you can disable USB in the operating system and in BIOS.  There is no other technical way to do it.  Organization wide policies against USB drives help, but a disabled USB port doesn’t rely on employee compliance.

The keyboard is the only other USB device that may make an appearance on your exam.  The threat here lies in keystroke logging devices which can be attached between a USB keyboard and the USB port on the computer.  They will capture everything typed (including user names and passwords) and send them to the bad guy, or store it for later retrieval.

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