USB thumb drives are convenient, popular and often free--and they're spreading viruses like sailors on shore leave.*
The US-CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) issued a warning on Thursday that malicious code is increasingly propagating via USB flash drive devices.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Defense has temporarily banned the use of thumb drives, CDs, and other removable storage devices because of the spread of the Agent.bzt virus, a variant of the SillyFDC worm, according to Wired.
We've seen this before with portable external storage devices. Floppy disks were the culprit in the early 1990s, followed by CDs. The fact that USB thumb drives are being used by so many people makes them an attractive target for virus writers.
"The bad guys are intentionally developing new flavors of malware designed to propagate through USB devices," said Gunter Ollmann, chief security strategist for IBM's ISS security division. "They are today's floppy drives."
But USB drives are even handier. Their small size makes them easy to slip into a pocket or carry on a lanyard around your neck. A common swag item in the tech industry, they also are mainstream consumer storage devices. They literally litter my desk drawers.
There are a couple of ways USB thumb drives can be used to spread viruses and other malicious software.
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