USBs are something that most of us use these days, and they’re convenient little tools for both work (especially when doing our jobs from home) and personal reasons. You might use them to store photographs, videos, or documents or to copy and pass on information to your friends and family.
However, one of the downsides of this tech is that it typically isn’t very secure and can lead to many cybersecurity problems if you’re not careful. Here are some tips for securing your USB drives today and keeping hackers at bay.
Choose USBs You Can Password Protect
One of the best things you can do regarding USBs drives is to use encrypted options. These products generally only cost a few dollars more than standard devices (though they can also cost hundreds of dollars for top-of-the-line, high-capacity offerings) but are beneficial because you can set up strong password protection on them.
This way, if you lose a USB or it gets stolen, no one can access the data, or at least not by simply plugging it in. You’ll have peace of mind that your private info will stay protected from prying eyes if something happens. Ensure you choose hard-to-crack passwords that are a minimum of eight characters long and contain upper-case and lower-case letters, symbols, and numbers.
Don’t make your codes relate to any details you share publicly, either, such as your birth date, child or pet’s name, etc., which hackers could potentially find on social media or elsewhere.
Avoid Using USBs You Get for Free
Another tip is to steer clear of USBs that get handed out for free at conferences, trade shows, from friends, and the like. Unfortunately, you don’t know how these products have been used in the past or what malware could have been placed on them or unknowingly gotten onto them.
They could be corrupted and give cybercriminals access to your systems as soon as you plug them in. It’s best to pay for your own devices that you know are fresh out of a packet and can’t have been tampered with or infected.
Utilize Comprehensive Security Software
To give yourself further protection, utilize quality internet security software on all the computers you plug USB drives into. Comprehensive programs can pick up on viruses and other issues immediately when you try to use a drive, making it hard for hackers to break into your systems or networks.
Choose products that protect against as many threats as possible, including ransomware, spyware, spam, viruses, and other malware. You must keep this software updated at all times, too, so that it’s as effective as possible and doesn’t contain any security gaps itself that hackers could try to exploit if they break into your computer via a USB drive.
Try Not to Use Public Tech
When you travel for work or pleasure or do day trips to other places, you don’t generally have access to the same secure Wi-Fi you use at home or in the office. During these times, you’ll probably turn to public internet offerings. However, it’s best to avoid open networks as much as possible as you don’t know who could be watching, especially if you also use someone else’s computers in an internet café, library, or the like.
Wherever possible, use secured internet, such as that you can access in a hotel via a guest password, so that hackers aren’t so likely to be able to record your computer keystrokes as you type or use the internet to break into your system and USBs. Furthermore, if you have to use a USB on someone else’s computer, stop and check that you’ve taken it out of the device as you leave. Many people suddenly realize they’ve left USBs in other devices when it’s too late, and anyone can access what’s on the stick.
Delete Data Once It’s No Longer Needed and Back-Up Information Regularly
If you want to keep the information saved on an external drive safe from prying eyes, it’s wise to delete data as soon as possible. Once you’ve finished using the information and don’t need it any longer, get rid of it. This may be because you no longer require the details or have stored the data elsewhere, somewhere secure, such as in the cloud. If USB drives don’t contain any valuable information for longer than necessary, you automatically mitigate your risks of exposure.
Similarly, back up all the information on your USB drive to another source often. Don’t just rely on having this data saved on the USB stick. Back up to the cloud or some other external storage system each time you make changes so that if something happens and you lose or have a USB drive stolen, you won’t have to stress about losing your precious work or other information along with it.
USBs are an incredibly useful tool because they’re so light and portable. However, this portability does make them more vulnerable to risk, so follow all the steps above to keep your information safer.
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