The USB flash drive is definitely one of the technological signatures of our time. It has made connecting our devices incredibly simple and transferring data easier than ever. This stands especially for USB sticks, little storage devices that we fell in love with during the 2000s due to their capacity to store a lot of data in very little physical space.
However, there are a lot of downsides to this form of connection, especially when it comes to company safety. Aside from them not being necessary for business anymore, we have listed four of the most important safety reasons to block USB devices from your company’s computers.
Once you have decided to take these measures to protect your company, you will easily learn how to block USB devices from work computers.
Probably none of your employees has the intention to harm the company, but intention is not all it takes. You can’t rely on all of your employees to keep their personal computers well protected from viruses and to make sure their USB drives are scanned for malware regularly. It would even be unethical to interfere in the handling of their personal property.
One of your employees might catch a malicious virus while browsing the web from their non-protected personal computer and not be aware of it. Any USB device they connect to their PC can pick up that virus, and once they connect it to a work PC the whole company network might get infected.
This could result in the system slowing down, crashing, and eventually losing valuable company data. This scenario could cost your company a fortune, and it might never recover from it. We have seen this happen too many times to let it fly and hope it won’t happen again—because it will.
You could try preventing this from happening by training your employees to be aware of this danger and keep their personal devices clean, but that takes too much trust. The only way to stay carefree from this is by simply locking company computers for USB drives because they aren’t even necessary nowadays.
You can never be sure that your company doesn’t have an enemy inside. Of course, you can try to avoid making enemies among your employees by being a fair employer, but it doesn’t always depend on you.
If you’re running a successful business, you probably have a lot of competition. We’re not saying that competition is bad; most of them are fair and they are what pushes you to become better. But sometimes there are malicious competitors that won’t hesitate to make an illegal move on your company.
Some of them might bribe one of your employees to bring them classified data from your company. They might use it to steal your clients or publish it in order to disgrace your company. You should be especially careful about this if your company works with sensitive customer data.
There are many ways to protect your company from such attempts, and blocking USB drives is one of them. That would leave your malicious employee with fever options to transfer sensitive data and lower the chance of anyone even attempting to do something like this.
Restricted Content and Software
If you already haven’t restricted video games in your office, then you probably should. Some of your employees may look unusually dedicated to their work tasks, while they are actually playing a video game. While video games may be a good way to relax during breaks, they are extremely distracting during work hours.
An office is no place to play games, so you should take measures to block gaming platforms and websites from your workplace. However, you shouldn’t stop there, because some of the more stubborn employees might bring games in on their flash drives and install them on a work computer.
The same goes for video content. A surprising amount of people admit to having watched movies, TV shows, and even pornographic material at work. Video streaming is among the most common mediums for procrastination at work, and it’s very bad for productivity.
You could sink into an episode of your favourite show and completely lose track of time and forget you’re at work for half an hour. In order to keep productivity at a decent level, you should block video streaming and downloading websites, but also lock work computers for USB drives to prevent your employees from bringing such material from home.
Risk of USB Drive Loss
What makes USB drives likable also makes them losable. They are getting tinier every year, which makes them really handy for carrying around gigabytes of information. But just think about how many USB drives you have lost over the years. Everyone has lost at least one USB stick in their life.
This happens exactly because they are so small, so you usually can’t even remember the place and timeframe of the loss. Because it was usually some photos, music, or some kind of software that we lost with that USB drive, we don’t remember it as a major loss. However, if it were to happen with vital company data, you would definitely never forget it.
An employee could lose a USB stick with classified company data, which could end up costing the company millions of dollars. That’s why you shouldn’t let your employees transfer company data via USB drives, and to make sure it doesn’t happen, you should simply lock company PCs for USB devices.
One Final Note
You can now see how USB devices can harm your company. There are numerous measures you can take to avoid this scenario, but the simplest and most secure one is to block these devices from your company’s computers.
After all, internet speed nowadays has reached a level that makes data transfer much faster than before. You can transfer tens of gigabytes of data in several minutes, making USB drives unnecessary. You have probably noticed that fewer people are carrying USB sticks these days and for good reason.
Image Credits: Markus Winkler