It’s Amazing How Much a USB Drive Can Hold…Until it is Stolen (And Then It’s Just Scary). Instances of information being lost or stolen while companies were using USB drives. How do you keep your USB just for your use?
USB drives (Universal Serial Bus drives), also known as flash drives or thumb drives have completely revolutionized data storage. These small, portable, inexpensive, reasonably indestructible devices and can hold a ton of information. The latest, like the Pico USB Flash Drive, is not much bigger than a thumbnail at 31.3 x 12.4 x 3.4mm but with has an amazing 8GB onboard. These features make removable media devices cost-effective and conveinaint for individuals, companies and institutions.
USB Drives similar portable data storage devices are used in many popular electronic devices including PDAs, laptop computers, mobile phones, game consoles, digital audio players and digital cameras.
But for all of the advantages of devices such as USB drive, the risks of theft of the devices followed by other fraud or identity theft is high as well. The devices are so small, they are easy to conceal when stolen. It is also difficult for owners to know if they have simply misplaced it, accidentally lost it or if it was indeed stolen.
In one story from Japan, apparently, it was all three. A memory stick, 2,000 yen and an airline coupon were stolen. The theft of the yen and the airline coupon was reported but the theft of the memory stick was not because they “didn’t want people searching on the internet for the data.” Supposedly the recovered USB device was borrowed and lent once again to a sergeant who left it on his desk where it was accidentally tossed. The data was reported to be “sensitive” but not “touchy.”
There are other examples here in the U.S. and abroad including:
Flash drives holding sensitive and classified military information turned up for sale at a bazaar outside Bagram, Afghanistan earlier this year. The Army does not know how they were lost and has tightened security for flash drives according to an e-mail message from Lt. Col. Thomas Collins from Afghanistan.
Wilcox Memorial Hospital in Lihue, Hawaii, had to inform 120,000 patients that a flash drive containing their personal information including names, addresses, Social Security numbers and identifying medical record numbers was lost. The USB drive has yet to be recovered and the drives, which had only been used for a few months by the hospital, have been banned.
Names, social security numbers and grades of 6,500 former and current University of Kentucky students were reported stolen after the theft of a professor’s flash drive. The drive has not been recovered and according to a spokesman, the university is re-evaluating its use of flash drives.
Security Firm Vonti’s Survey on USB Drive Theft & Loss Show That-
*More than half admitted that confidential information is unprotected on USB drives.
*Twenty percent report that at least 1 USB drive is reported lost at work each month.
* Because they are inexpensive, many missing USM drives go unreported, as compared to a missing laptop tech professionals say.
Bob Heard, CEO of Credant Technologies, another data-security company says, “An employee can buy a $25 thumb drive and download $25 million worth of information on it, and there’s nothing most companies can do to stop it.”
Some concerned companies have even admitted super-gluing USB ports shut so data cannot be downloaded from PCs and laptops. Others, like Prudential, encrypt any confidential data that goes on portable storage devices.
The concerns about the theft of data reach down not only from military and other institutions and companies but to individuals as well. With the ability to hold so much private information on such a small storage device, individuals should be concerned as well about protecting what’s on their USB devices. Is your information sensitive? You may not have “sensitive” information on your USB drive, but remember when it comes to identity theft, a little goes a long way. Would it put you at risk for identity theft or other crimes of fraud if it were stolen?
Do you or your company use USB drives to store and share information? Share with other Identity Theft Secrets readers how you protect your USB Drive and your information, in our comments section.