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Flash Drives - A Growing Medium to Spread Malware

Security firm 'Symantec' is warning that virus creators are increasingly using the widely-used USB flash drives to distribute malware. These portable drives have autorun utilities and a large storage capacity largely to facilitate the malevolent codes to disseminate infection to a large number of computers.

Symantec reveals in its Internet Security Threat Report that 66% of all malware in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) are currently disseminated through executable files, a rise of 33% since 2008.

The security company also notes that malware developers and hackers during the 80s and early 90s used to copy simple executables on floppy discs for spreading malicious software. Similarly, they are now copying malicious codes on detachable USB devices for propagating malware from one unwary user to another.

Symantec claims that the four most sophisticated computer viruses that are currently used for spreading malware through USB devices are SillyFDC, Mabezat, Gammima and Sality.

Furthermore, the security specialists state that the practice of using removable storage media to spread infection gained momentum during the 2007 summer, and it has been growing since then leading to insurmountable problems.

This momentum is mainly because malware developers are opportunists. It has been observed that with the popularity of every new technology among end-users, malware writers too become increasingly focused on exploiting that technology for personal benefits, said the experts at Symantec.

Such attacks are likely to put corporate networks in immense difficulties. Employees use personal flash drives and MP3 players on their corporate PCs that quickly contaminate the systems.

Since portable flash drives have such negative impact, the US Army has permanently prohibited inmates from using USB sticks as well as similar other removable media since November 2008. With this, the Army hopes that security would be maintained and would prevent the spread of worm Agent.btz a modification of SillyFDC, which proliferates via copying itself on removable storage media like thumb drives.

Hence, Symantec recommends that users turn off the Autorun utility for detachable storage devices while organizations establish prohibitory policies regarding the use of USB sticks.

Related article: Flaws Detected in Yahoo Music Jukebox

ยป SPAMfighter News - 22-06-2009

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