According to a 2021 Honeywell Cybersecurity Research Report, 37% of all cybersecurity threats were designed to use removable media. Given the prevalence of these devices in organizations, it’s imperative that organizations consider removable media device protection in their cybersecurity planning.
The risks associated with removable media
While there are numerous risks associated with use of portable and removable media storage devices, they can be aligned to two main categories. Those that result in a direct loss of data, and those that introduce a threat into the environment.
Loss of Data: While allowing employees to use removable media devices (RMDs) like USB keys or portable drives to share or back-up files both inside and outside of the organization seems like a relatively safe way to remove roadblocks to productivity, it’s far from it. Often these devices store highly-sensitive data including sales content, large files like financial spreadsheets, design specs or other proprietary information. If accidentally dropped or forgotten in leaking sensitive data, significant reputational damage and financial loss could ensue.
Introduction of malware: The most critical risk associated with use of removable media devices is the ease at which malware can be transferred from one computer to another, without realizing a virus was ever present. At times, this malware was picked up during file transfers from one device to another, at other times, it was maliciously planted through ‘baiting’ ᠆ the process of leaving a malware-infected device in a busy, public place for a well-intentioned person to find and insert into their computer. The malware can then begin it’s job of infecting the accessed network, disrupting business, launching ransomware, or even exfiltrating data immediately. Depending on endpoint and network security controls and detection capabilities, the malware can spread quickly and even live off the land for some time until it is awakened or even transferred onto a RMD and carried to another network.
What types of attacks are we seeing lately? Read more below.