USB Devices Guilty in Many Malware Attacks

One in every eight malware attacks occurs via a USB device, often targeting the Windows AutoRun function, according to Czech security vendor Avast Software.

The company reported that of the 700,000 recorded attacks on computers in the Avast user community during the last week of October, 13.5% came via USB devices such as flash drives.

AutoRun alerts computer users when a new device is connected and helps them choose which application should run the new files.

"AutoRun is a really useful tool, but it is also a way to spread more than two-thirds of current malware," said Avast virus analyst Jan Sirmer. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of people who use USB flash drives to share large files with friends or transfer files at their workplaces, Sirmer said.

Infected USB devices -- which can include portable gaming units, digital cameras, mobile phones or MP3 players -- start executable files that invite a wide array of malware into host computers. The incoming malware copies itself into Windows and can replicate itself each time the computer is started.

Avast urged users not to boot up PCs that already have USB devices attached, because the malware will load before some antivirus programs do.

This story, "USB Devices Guilty in Many Malware Attacks" was originally published by Computerworld UK.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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