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Because USB drives (sometimes known as thumb drives), are small, readily available, inexpensive and extremely portable, they are popular for storing and transporting files from one computer to another. However, these same characteristics make them appealing to attackers and putting one in a University computer could spread malware and cause security risks. For more information, check out the University’s Encrypted Flash Drives Guidance

An infected USB device will auto-run viruses that are on the drive. You may never know that the virus is there, or it may take weeks for you to realize something is wrong. Those viruses are now specializing in: sending credit card numbers, user names, and passwords to overseas hackers and governments. They can also hold the content of your computer for ransom.

Tips for safe USB drive use

  • Do not place unknown USB drives into your computer.
  • Only buy/use USB drives that are in their original packaging.
  • If you receive important data on an USB drive, even from a trusted vendor, please ask F&O IT to check the drive before placing it in into your computer.

For more information on safe USB use and other digital security topics contact F&O IT Security via e-mail ( or phone (919-962-4335).

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