02 Sep 2010

Twenty-five percent of malware spread through USB devices, study says

According to a new study by a software security company, 25 percent of newly created worms are specifically designed to spread through USB devices.

The study, which surveyed 10,470 companies across 20 countries, found 48 percent of small- to medium-sized businesses had been infected by some type of malware in the last year, with 27 percent of the infections caused by attaching a USB device, such as a flash drive, external hard drive or smartphone, to a computer.

The malware runs automatically when the USB device is connected to a computer, infecting the system without the user’s knowledge, said Luis Corrons, technical director of the company.

Email and the web are still the most popular transmitters of malware, the report states, but the trend is USB growing.

End users and businesses would be well-advised to make sure their antivirus software is up-to-date and capable of scanning USB drives when attached.

Last week, Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn revealed to Foreign Affairs magazine that the massive 2008 security breach of U.S. military computers was caused by an infected USB flash drive.