10 Practical Ways to Prevent USB-Borne Virus Infection

May 27, 2008 – 5:07 pm

Lets face it, USB thumb drives are marvelous tools for temporary data storage while computer viruses has long been a pain in the a*s. With gigabytes of data that can be stored inside USB removable thumbdrives, people are swapping files between computers like crazy nowadays. However, this way of file sharing makes it even easier for viruses to infect your computer.

I’ve seen an computer got infected by a virus just by plugging the USB thumb drive into Windows XP (with autoplay enabled) and the havoc it caused can be pretty scary. Some of the installed antivirus just failed to scan these kinds of viruses, which makes the matter much worse. Therefore, I’ve decided to compile 10 practical ways to prevent virus infection between computers and USB removable drives.



1- Disable autorun on all locally connected drives, including removable USB thumbdrives. Some of the USB-borne viruses use the normally hidden autorun.inf inside your USB drive to automatically invoke malicious instructions and infect your computer, each time the USB drive is connected to a computer.

Don’t know how to do this? My friend Madhur shows you how to disable the USB autorun feature manually or using Microsoft’s Tweak UI tool.


2- Install USB Firewall on your computer – this freeware blocks and deletes all virus and other malicious programs which try to get into your Windows system whenever an USB device is inserted.


USB Firewall HomepageDownload USB Firewall


3- If you plan to buy a new USB thumbdrive, get one that comes with a read-only switch . Therefore, if you want to transfer files to another computer, switch it to read-only mode to prevent viruses from infecting the USB drive.


4- If you have an old thumb drive without the read-only switch, you can still hack your Windows registry to prevent write access to any removable storage devices (Windows XP SP2 only!)


5- Install ClamWin Portable Antivirus into your thumb drive and keep it updated with the latest pattern. Next, make the USB drive read-only. If you want to copy a file from a public computer to the thumb drive, do scan critical areas inside that computer with this portable antivirus first. A slow method but it works!



6- Install USBVirusScan, a freeware that triggers your antivirus to scan a USB drive, each time it is inserted in your computer.


HomepageDownload USBVirusScanHow To Install USBVirusScan


7- Make sure you update your antivirus and scan through your computer and USB drive regularly. Never connect your USB drive to an untrusted computer with an outdated virus pattern.



8- Make sure your antivirus is set to automatically scan all locally connected drives , including your USB thumbdrive. Some antivirus like Kaspersky Internet Security has this option.



9- Disable access of USB drives if you don’t want to risk any virus infections. You can accomplish this with a Windows registry hack or using USB Drive Disabler application. Use an alternative data sharing method such as CD/DVD/FTP file transfer instead!



10- If you have extra bucks to spend, buy an antivirus for your thumb drive that has on-access protection like Avast U3 ($19.95 a year), DriveSentry Go Anywhere ($10 one off payment), USB Virus Chaser etc.


There you go, 10 doable ways to prevent your computer and USB drive from getting infected with computer viruses. If you have other ways to deal with this problem, share with the community by leaving a comment below.

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