Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Windows XP/7: How to Prevent Flash Drive Viruses Forever!

One of the most common ways for offices to get a virus outbreak is through flash drives.  For some reason many of the big anti-virus companies haven't tarket flash drive viruses and instead focus on web browsing and emails.  Fair enough, but the flash drive solution is rather simple:

How do viruses spread through flash drives?  Through a "feature" in Windows that allows software to automatically and easily run from a flash drive, CD or DVD simply by inserting it in the computer.  On a more technical note, Windows looks for a file called autorun.inf that maps the execution out for the user.

The problem is that viruses can replace or create autorun.inf to run malicious programs from the flash drive.  I say the tradeoff of convenience over security is not worth it, so let's disable Window's use of autorun.inf and forever be rid of the problem with flash drive viruses!

There used to be a registry script that would make this possible, but it seems the Microsoft has embraced the move to disable autorun.inf, so the solution is rather straight forward.

For very technical background info, read this page from Microsoft.

Down the middle of the page you'll see a button saying "Fix It" under the heading "Disable Autoplay".  This is the one you want.  Or simply click here to directly install it.

That's it!  No more viruses!

To clean existing flash drives, I have found Microsoft Security Essentials to do the best job.  I don't know why, but McAfee and other big anti-virus brands just don't seem to care what's on your flash drive.

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