28 Jun 2011

Test shows users likely to put computers at risk

A test run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security caught many users inserting discs and USB drives of unknown origins in their computers, according to Bloomberg News.

Earlier this year, Homeland Security staff placed thumb drives and computer discs in the parking lots of government agencies and private contractors. More than half of those who picked them up loaded the storage devices onto their computers, while a full 90 percent did so if the thumb drive or CD case was marked with an official logo.

Bloomberg reports hackers have breached sophisticated computer security systems at Intel and Google by taking advantage of this type of worker behavior. Even at these tech firms, workers sometimes open malicious links sent in emails, though unlike the USB drives and discs, these links are often intricately disguised to appear safe.

Despite the high percentage of workers who plugged in Homeland Security's planted USB drives, flash drives are no longer a very common way to spread malware, according to G Data. The computer security firm says because autorun is no longer a prevalent default setting, cyber criminals are concentrating on luring users onto malicious websites.