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Thursday, 08 December 2011 12:01

Two thirds of USBs infected

Written by Nick Farell



So dirty they needed a scrub according to security outfit


More than two thirds of the USB flash drives found on trains down under were infected with one or more strains of malware and none was secured with encryption.

Antivirus outfit Sophos, which acquired three bags of USB sticks lost by commuters on trains in the Greater Sydney metro area at an auction organised by the Rail Corporation New South Wales. An analysis was performed on 50 USB sticks that ranged from 256MB to 8GB in size and revealed that 33, or 66 per cent, of them were infected, some with multiple types of malware. While many Apple fanboys who insist that their gear is safe from viruses and malware all seven which had been formatted using MacOSX were infected.

Paul Ducklin, Sophos' head of technology for the Asia Pacific warned Windows users not to trust anything that comes from Apple-loving friends.  He warned that Mac users who is opposed to the concept of anti-virus software, consider softening your stance as they were spreading a lot of toxic material. He said that the likelihood of the USB sticks being left on trains on purpose by hackers or penetration testers so they are picked up by corporate users and plugged into their work computers, is very low.

Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at the company said that he could not not find any evidence to support the theory that the USB sticks had been deliberately planted. He said that the malware prevalence tells a simple story of poor PC hygiene. This is also the reason for none of the USB sticks being encrypted or password-protected. None of the files were interesting.

Nick Farell

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