Is Removable Media A Threat?

Removable media have been used for decades. Things like optical disks, USB flash drives, memory cards, and external hard drives have made it possible to store and transfer data easily. However, as convenient as removable media are, they also come with security risks that you should be aware of. Let’s take a closer look.

Benefits and Risks of Removable Media

Removable media indeed come with many benefits, including:

  • Affordability
  • Easily accessible
  • Large storage capacity
  • Usable on any computer
  • Fast data transfer

Despite these benefits, if you are considering using removable media, you need to weigh them against the potential risks of their use. These risks include:

  • Loss/Theft – Since removable media is a separate device, often relatively small, it can be easy to lose. If this happens, you may have no way to retrieve the data on the removable media. It is also vulnerable to theft by someone with malicious intent.
  • Hardware failure – You could lose your data if the removable media breaks or fails.
  • Not secure – Following the ease of loss and theft comes the reality that removable media is often not password protected, and the data is often not encrypted. This means anyone who gets their hands on it can access the stored data.
  • Malware – If someone has tampered with your removable media, it can infect your computer with malware when plugged in, allowing an attacker to steal data.
  • Copyright infringement – If the data on the removable media is copyrighted and you use it on unlicensed devices, you risk copyright infringement.

Best Practices when Using Removable Media

Despite the risks involved, removable media may be a requirement for your work or simply more convenient. If that is the case, there are best practices you can follow to mitigate the risk:

  • Encrypt the data – Ensure that all data stored on removable media has been encrypted, so if anyone unauthorized gets a hold of it, they can’t access it.
  • Use password protection – Password-protect the removable media with an encryption tool that offers password protection.
  • Separate personal and professional data – Avoid storing personal and professional data on the same removable media.
  • Remove unneeded data – When sensitive data is no longer needed, remove it from the removable media.
  • Back up your data – Your removable media should never be the only place your data is stored or backed up. Have an additional backup of all important and sensitive data.
  • Install antivirus software – Ensure your computer has the latest and most up-to-date version of antimalware to protect against malware installed from compromised removable media.
  • Disable autoplay and autorun – Disable your computer’s autoplay and autorun features before connecting any new removable media to ensure that the files and folders that may potentially carry malware are not automatically opened.
  • Educate employees – Ensure all employees know how to use removable media safely and securely.

Removable media are convenient and a great way to transfer and store data. And for some individuals and small businesses, this may be preferable to investing in cloud storage. Just be sure to take steps to protect your data and reduce the risks associated with removable media by following the best practices listed above.

Reach out to Platinum Technologies today to find out how we can help you find the right data storage and transfer solutions to suit your business needs.

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