Infected flash drives common - survey

2012-08-20 12:40

Cape Town - A security survey has found that almost a third of computer users are exposed to virus infections as a result of infected optical or flash drives.

"Even if a user is confident that his/her computer is securely protected, an infected USB stick from friends or family could result in data loss," said Kaspersky Lab, the company that commissioned the survey.

The survey conducted in May 2012 found that 32% of users reported attacks resulting from such infections.

The most popular method of committing cybercrime via the internet and criminals employ a variety of tools to lure victims, but the universal use of flash drives along with high storage capacity has made them attractive malware distribution channels.

This is particularly worrying said Kaspersky, given that most people store personal information on their devices.


"Along with cyber-threats, users worry about unauthorised access to their personal data and the devices it is stored on. According to the survey, this problem affected 14% of desktop and laptop users, 12% of tablet owners and 10% of those respondents with smartphones."

The company recommends encryption of valuable information to protect personal data or sensitive files.

Users who access the internet on unsecured wireless networks should be vigilant as hackers could potentially intercept information.

The survey found that 46% of smartphone users, 48% of tablet owners, and 29% of those with laptops make use of free Wi-Fi.

"This rather worrying statistic demonstrates that users clearly underestimate the dangers of free Wi-Fi. When it comes to wireless networks, it is very easy to avoid the threat of your data being intercepted by only using secured hot-spots," said Kaspersky.

Kaspersky had previously noted that South Africans are not a global priority for hackers, but as more users come online, they may be targeted for banking details or other financial information.

"The top three most vulnerable programs for Windows PCs are Adobe Acrobat Reader, Oracle Java and Adobe Flash," the company said.

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  • charlie.vanbergen - 2012-08-20 13:11

    "... a third of computer users are exposed to virus infections ..." Might this be the first instance of virus transmission between computers and humans? Must be one awesome mutation!

  • dduplessis - 2012-08-20 13:35

    I am not a computer boffin but I have found the following. I bought an external hard drive in Palo Alto California. When I loaded it on my computer, Kaspersky picked up that there was a virus. Not harmful to the computer. This being a new Toshiba external drive (1,5TB). I get the idea that they are infected to send you innocuous advertisements etc. You pay good money for it but then you get hassled with all the other rubbish that goes with it.

      dewaldmontgomery - 2012-08-20 15:22

      Of dalk was dit net 'n vals positief. Ek het nog nooit 'n ad gekry van Toshiba of enige Toshiba verwante maatskappy net op grond van 'n nuwe hardeskyf nie. Daar was dalk een of ander outo-installasieprogram op die hardeskyf wat 'sonder toestemming' na jou Windows register probeer skryf het, en dit is as 'verdag' deur Kaspersky as 'n virus beskou. Net een moontlikheid. Daar's 'n hordes ander.

      arm.witmens - 2012-08-20 15:28

      Its a flase positive. The software installed on the disk to autorun is picked up as a virus. No conspiracy.

      arm.witmens - 2012-08-20 15:28


      jacques.buckle - 2012-08-20 15:43

      its just the ini file that gets picked up as a virus. nothing serious

  • Billy - 2012-08-20 15:49

    infected optical drives? what? dont think i have ever seen a virus on a cd or dvd etc, starting to think i might have when quad speed cd roms came out... the biggest problem is flash drives and external drives, people copy their movies and music from one another at home, then bring the virus to work. mostly. but its the lack of security when it comes to data sharing. a lot of the anti-virus programs need to be told to scan removable media before it actually does. it is not enabled by default on installation. sometimes the anti-virus application cannot clean the infected removeable media because it does not have rights to change the data on the device. most users would not know how to fix this. and btw, there is a virus that creates "autorun" files, it is not a fals positive, it is actually called the autorun.inf virus. normal autorun files do not pick up as a virus, if your security is set to stop normal autorun, it should not even show up when you plug in a device.

      Billy - 2012-08-20 15:54

      oh a quick way to see if you are infected with an autorun virus, is to show hidden files and folders, delete the autorun file on the disk, if it recreates itself, it is a virus. you might need to unplug and plug the device back in to trigger it.

      arm.witmens - 2012-08-20 16:15

      It would be a false positive if its a brand new drive.

  • Rammsteen - 2012-08-21 07:34

    Told you so...Conspiracy I tell you.

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