How to Protect Your USB Firmware From Viruses

How to Protect Your USB Firmware From Viruses

USB devices are extremely versatile and convenient, which has led to their widespread adoption in today’s society. You can access your wireless networks using these tools, connect a wireless keyboard and mouse, store files and folders, install software, and do a lot of other things as well.

The firmware that is pre-installed on these USB devices is an essential component of the product. Firmware is a type of computer program that allows you to carry out operations by the objectives of your USB drive. It does this by giving you the ability to read and write to the device. The firmware, for instance, makes it possible to connect to wireless networks by utilizing a USB drive as the connecting device.

What Kind of Harm Could Be Caused by Malicious USB Firmware?

By masquerading as a USB device, malicious USB firmware is capable of doing every action that is possible for a USB device, which is to say, virtually anything. In addition, the vast majority of malicious firmware will give the impression that it is operating normally while covertly exchanging files to trick the user into believing that they are safe. After all, the rate at which a virus might propagate can be sped up if it is moved from one computer to another using a standard USB flash drive, as this would be the case.

One of the most common applications for malicious USB firmware is to impersonate a keyboard while simultaneously sending keystrokes to a target computer. A hacker could use the fake keyboard to remotely operate a device that has this capability, but more usually, it would use simple macros to carry out harmful activities. A hacker could use the fake keyboard to remotely control a device that has this capability. Launching the command prompt, connecting to the internet, and downloading a small piece of software via cmd are all things that might be put into a macro. The macro could then be coded to run the application and even bypass the UAC prompt.

Another common characteristic is the infection of the files that are saved on the device. The vast majority of intelligent firmware, on the other hand, will not corrupt a file while it is still stored on the USB flash drive itself; rather, it will choose to add malicious content to a file after it has been transferred off the flash drive, thereby exonerating the USB device from any responsibility in the incident.

USB Virus Transmission

Malicious USB firmware can now corrupt standard USB drives, turning them into virus hosts that are capable of reproducing the virus. This puts regular USB drives in danger.

The only thing that this threat does is install a virus on a host device, such as a laptop PC, and when a USB drive is connected, it modifies the firmware of the drive so that it can transmit the infection to any other machines to which it connects. It can quickly spread malicious firmware throughout an entire company, then to other companies and beyond by using the same cycle of virus-based USB firmware. This can be done by spreading it from one infected USB drive to another.

This particular variety of malicious USB firmware is currently the most dangerous, even though it does nothing wrong on its own because it can be linked to the other concerns described in the article. This suggests that malicious software has the potential to quickly spread across a wide number of networks, some of which may have an international reach.

How can you Safeguard your USBs?

Because USB flash drives are the medium via which this virus is transmitted, the most straightforward approach is to protect your USB flash drives. However, the source of this kind of danger does not have to be a USB flash drive; rather, it can come from any site on your network. For instance, a computer on your network might unknowingly pick up a virus that then spreads to your USB flash drives.

This indicates that to be safe, you need to approach the problem from both the outside and the inside, securing the USBs used by your firm as well as any internal devices that could link to USB flash drives.

Because you do not have any control over the programming of the firmware and the fact that it is typically a proprietary format, the apps in question pose a security risk. It is always possible that malicious actors will integrate a virus or other form of malware with the firmware; as a result, the same thing will get loaded on your computer whenever you insert a USB stick.

Continue reading if this is something that worries you or if you have already found yourself in this unfortunate situation, as we present some helpful information on how to protect your USB firmware from malicious software.

Caution is Advised When Using USB Drives

As the user, you must protect your device from any potentially harmful programs that might be installed on it. When shopping for USB drives, you should steer clear of ones that come from dubious sources. For instance, bad actors may routinely abandon contaminated USB drives in public places such as parks, municipal buses, and other open spaces. Users who are reckless and curious frequently take these USB sticks and link them to their devices in the hope that they will discover something new. Unfortunately, this does nothing more than make their computer vulnerable to the viruses and malware that are already prevalent in the environment.

Even while something like this could strike you as strange and unreal, it takes much more often than you might imagine. To put it another way, you should steer clear of using USB drives located in public places. Also, you should steer clear of buying old drives through the internet. If you have to, use the hard drives of people you already know, such as friends and relatives, or just buy brand-new ones from the store. Always proceed with extreme caution when handling these drives so that you can prevent infections from occurring on your device.

Stop the Installation from Happening Automatically

The firmware of any USB devices that have been plugged in will, by default, run automatically under the Windows operating system. Be sure to disable the automated installation process so that you may inspect the application in question before your computer begins to run it.

Follow the steps below on your Windows computer to deactivate the auto-installation feature. Please keep in mind that these instructions were written for the Windows 10 operating system; therefore, you will need to make the appropriate adjustments for the version of your operating system that you are using.

Turn on the System Preferences

Before inserting a USB device, you must first press the Windows key and the letter X simultaneously. To access the system, pick it from the menu. Find the option labeled “Advanced System Settings” on the right side of the screen, and then pick it.

Preferences for the System

The “System Properties” dialog box will appear as a result of clicking this.

Go to install the device drivers.

  1. In the dialog box, navigate to and select the “Hardware” tab.
  2. Following that, choose the “Device Installation Settings” option. To access the dialog box containing the device installation settings, select the radio button labeled “No”.
  3. Choose the “Save Changes” option to stop Windows from automatically running the firmware that is stored on your USB device.

Installing Software on a USB Drive

To install the firmware from a USB drive that you have recently acquired or that you are already familiar with, navigate to the Control Panel and pick the Devices and Printer option.

On the new window, click the button labeled “Add a Device”. Following that, your computer will look for new devices and list all that it finds. After selecting the device that you wish to install, proceed by clicking the “Next” button.

Refinement of the Operating Drivers

It is possible that at some point you will want to update the drivers for your currently installed devices. Because you have disabled the automatic installation feature, you will need to do this operation manually instead.

  • Choose “Device Manager” by pressing the Windows key and the X key simultaneously.
  • Pick the device you wish to update from the tree of devices on the left side of the screen.
  • Right-clicking the device allows you to access the “Update Driver” menu option.
  • It will bring up a file dialog box for you, in which you can look for the program that drives the device.
  • Simply clicking “Next” will get you started with the installation.

You can prevent Windows from installing apps automatically by using this method, and you can restrict the operating system to just executing trustworthy programs.

Secure your USB gadgets

If you regularly lend your USB devices to family, friends, or coworkers, you should consider encrypting any private information you save on such drives to prevent unauthorized access. You can also encrypt access so that nobody can change the firmware on your machine and infect it. This will prevent infections.

The hardware of some USB drives can also be protected by a password if you choose to use one. To reiterate, carrying out this procedure will ensure that no viruses are introduced to the firmware.

Use Tools to Prevent Data Loss

Using Data Loss Prevention (DLP) software, which has the sophisticated ability to recognize malware and protect your device from it, is one of the simplest and most practical ways to protect your USB firmware from infections. DLP software also can protect your device from other forms of data loss. These products provide protection not just against unintentional but also against accidental data loss, as their names imply.

One further advantage of utilizing these technologies is the provision of unrestricted authority over the software that is put in place on your device. All of the software that has been installed is displayed on the main dashboard, and you can even adjust the configuration settings to have an effect on software that will be installed in the future. In other words, nothing will happen automatically; you will have to actively accept installs for them to take place.

Because of the effectiveness of these technologies in reducing the possibility of insider attacks, it is very beneficial for a company from their point of view. When data loss prevention (DLP) tools are installed in a network, users are prevented from copying or sending sensitive information using USB storage devices. Because these technologies undoubtedly offer extra defense against malicious firmware, your security strategy needs to incorporate a large amount of responsibility for their use.

These DLP systems provide complex reports that provide vital information for decision-making while also assisting with regulatory compliance. These reports give the information that is required for regulatory compliance. These aspects play a role in the widespread use of DLP tools across a variety of businesses in the modern day.

As a consequence of the surge in demand for DLP tools brought on by the expansion of the market, there is currently a substantial quantity of these tools available for purchase. The following are some of the best choices that are currently available on the market. The specific option that you go with will be determined by the infrastructure of your organization as well as the goals that you wish to achieve.

The Best DPL Tools

1. DLP Forcepoint

DLP Forcepoint

It is a cutting-edge technology that protects enterprises against data leaks and loss that can be caused by endpoint devices such as mobile phones, detachable USB drives, and even email clients and applications. In addition to that, it enables encryption for USB disks, which protects the firmware from being modified. It is also able to assist in the content analysis of USB devices and the disabling of those drives in compliance with the security rules of the organization.

2. Endpoint Protector by CoSoSys 

Endpoint Protector by CoSoSys

It is a data loss prevention (DLP) tool for enterprises that monitors and protects important data for your business. In addition to this, it provides IT managers with extensive control over the use of endpoint devices such as USB drives, making it easy to determine which USB drive is currently in use. Workers are unable to infect computer systems with malware by using USB devices thanks to this protection measure.

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