Avast: One in eight malware infections via USB

By Mike Fischer on November 4, 2010, 8:19 PM
With the expanding amounts of storage available on cell phones, mp3 players, digital cameras, and gaming devices it's no surprise that malware is increasingly being transmitted over USB. Avast Software is reporting that out of 700,000 attacks reported by its Community IQ system in October, one in eight were exchanged over USB connections. "Cyber-criminals are taking advantage of people's natural inclination to share with their friends and the growing memory capacity of USB devices," says Avast virus analyst Jan Sirmer.

One of the most common causes of USB malware transmittal is the Windows AutoRun feature. Typically left on by default, AutoRun scans newly connected devices and prompts the user for an action to take, from opening Office documents to playing video files. During this simple scan malware can infect a computer, turning a feature of convenience into a dangerous liability. And as USB drives are now found anywhere and everywhere computers are used, simply trading data between users can result in easily infected PCs.

Some easy ways to protect yourself include keeping USB devices disconnected until the PC and its anti-virus software have fully booted, making sure on-access malware scanning is enabled and running in the background, or simply disabling AutoRun altogether.

User Comments: 5

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thebluemeaner said:

It doesn't amaze me at all, usb flash drives are promiscous devices that get stuck in any computer and get infected with viruses all the time..

Guest said:

You can use the Panda USB Vaccine:


It will assist you disabling the AutoRun and vaccinating the USB devices so malware no longer can create an Autorun entry on your device and so it can't launch itself automatically. When vaccinating, the Panda USB Vaccine creates its own protected Autorun file.

coolhandz84 said:

I always keep auto-run off and scan any new usb storage devices before i use them. Nice story though, hope others will learn.

Guest said:

Oh, life is so easy for us in the linux world.

Appzalien said:

I don't think your going to buy a flash drive new from the store and get infected. Its more likely to happen if your using the drive to transfer files from one place to the other or if guests have access to your PC. The high incidence of infection is more likely due to people taking flash drives to work and then home or using them in an Internet Cafe' and then plugging them into their home or work PC. Technicians who use them to work on infected PC's are also at risk going between virus laden machines with the same drive.

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