Almost half of all businesses had been infected by a worm in the past year, with a quarter of these spreading via USB devices, according to the 2nd International Security Barometer from security vendor Panda Security.
PandaLabs technical director Luis Corrons said any USB device capable of storing information, including DVD drives, mobile phones and MP3 players, could act as an excellent vehicle for attacks, and presented firms with a number of problems.
“At present, much of the malware in circulation has been designed to distribute through these devices," he said.
"Not only does it copy itself to these gadgets, but it also runs automatically when a USB device is connected to a computer, infecting the system practically transparently to the user."
Corrons said PandaLabs had seen many such infections this year, including " the distribution of the Mariposa and Vodafone botnets”.
Of course, these attacks are not as widespread as those that are contained in emails, which have long been the mainstay of virus writers, but Corron said that as the use of USB devices increases so will the threat of infection.
Panda's warning was echoed by others in the industry.
Anders Petersson, chief security officer at BlockMaster Security, said businesses had to prepare themselves.
“To prevent USB drives becoming a liability, organisations need to ensure
followed to ensure data is secure,” he said. "The first major step to resolving this security problem is to make the switch from unsecure USB drives to secure USB drives that are centrally manageable."
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