Magpie Tech Tips

October 07, 2016

Did You Find a USB Thumb Drive? Careful, It May Have Malware on It!

Finding a USB drive when out in public might seem like a windfall. But watch out...it could have malware on it. Don't risk your information getting stolen. Don't plug it in!

At the Small Business Expo, one of our workshop attendees asked us about a random USB drive she found.  No scratches or signs of use.  Was it safe to use?

We asked her if she’d plugged it into her computer yet.  She had not.  We told her to throw it away, right now. 

Why did we do that?  After all, it’s a free USB drive.  What’s the harm?

Malware embedded in the USB drive.  That’s the harm.

Cops warn of malware-infected USB sticks placed in mailboxes – FoxNews Tech

This news article talks about USB drives found in people’s mailboxes in Australia.  The drives are infected with malware that can steal your personal information.  The same thing’s happening here in the U.S.

Hackers and cybercriminals are preying on people’s sense of curiosity.  If you found an unmarked USB drive, what would you do?  Plug it into your PC to find out what's on it, right?  

The problem is, the malware starts working the second you plug in the drive.  Your information gets stolen before you blink.  Or your computer’s locked up with ransomware.

Is it possible to clean the malware off & use the USB drive safely?  Possible, but it depends on the malware.  Some malware apps embed themselves in a drive’s firmware—even a format won’t get rid of it.

So what should you do if you find a USB drive on the street?  Take a hammer to it.  Then throw it away.

 

Got a tech question you need answered?  Please email us at woof@planetmagpie.com and we may make it our next Tech Tip.