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August 29, 2008

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A USB flash drive in the shape of a piece of i...

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Ever since I was stung by SillyFDC, the malware that spreads over the common USB Flash drive, I've been alert, keeping an eye open every time I insert my pendrive into a publicly used machine - I do that a lot (insert the USB thingy, that is). So, today, a library officer came by to the Helpdesk I sit near and he was concerned about having an infected drive, he had noticed that there had been a rash of incidents affecting teaching staff. One of my colleagues was about to insert the said suspect drive into her machine and I was quite happy to jump up and intercede.

Tip #1 - do it on somebody else's machine - we used a loan notebook which we could reclone easily.

Tip #2 - Disable Windows autorun on all drives. I was amused when I heard some astronaut had taken an infected notebook up to the space station and spread it around. How do you ensure every drive has autorun disabled? See my forum post. If you can't or don't want to carry out Tip #2, try

Tip #3 - Boot Puppy Linux or Ubuntu LiveCD so that you can mount and inspect the Flash Drive

Some of our forum members surprise me by saying "Gee - Linux huh? How does it? What do I? Will it?". Not to worry dear reader. The more friendly and common Linux variants don't take over your machine or damage your Windows. You can boot a Linux LiveCD, mount your USB drive and have a look at what files and folders there are, without fear of Windows malware hopping onto your main hard drive.

Oh, I forgot Tip #0 - don't expect that your Windows malware scanner, super Mr. Security Guard to always know every malware and to always be able to spring into action in the nick of time. Much malware is very clever, very sneaky and very new or metamorphing like a Ranger.

Tip #4 - If you can, run Windows XP in Limited User mode and don't switch off User Access Control (UAC) just because you think it's inconvenient. Default inability to execute and drop something into the system files of Windows beats Mr. Windows Security Guard Scanner anytime.

Yes, I know about the Tip before Tip #0 - Don't use Windows.

Enjoy your weekend.

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Posted by Anandasim at August 29, 2008 09:40 PM

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