What is a USB blocker?
A USB (Universal Serial Bus) blocker is used to disable the ports into which removable storage devices are plugged in. Portability and ample storage capacity make USBs an easy medium through which data theft can occur. To combat this, USB blocking measures are now integrated into dynamic data loss prevention (DLP) solutions to address all types of sophisticated data security threats.
Why block USB ports?
USB sticks have been the source of multiple data security incidents like the Stuxnet attack. Portable storage devices are also a threat vector for rogue insiders. The top reasons to block USB ports in your organization are to:
- Stop unauthorized data transfers by employees and business affiliates who have access to sensitive data in your organization.
- Prevent malware infections from USB devices that contain malicious codes in their firmware, also known as a badUSB attack.
- Eliminate the risk of data loss through misplaced USBs, even if they have been approved for official use.
- Ensure that unsecured personal USBs belonging to employees are not used for official purposes.
How do you block USB ports?
USB ports can be blocked using several methods. The most common methods are:
- Disabling USB ports in the Basic Input Output System (BIOS) or the built-in setup located in the motherboard. This solution is not feasible for multiple endpoints.
- Making edits to the Windows registry in endpoints running on Windows can prevent access to the USB device, even if it's detected. The downside is that registry edits are permanent, and a small error can drastically affect the endpoints' functions.
- Using USB lockdown software that can block or unblock ports as required. This method offers a lot more control, i.e., on which devices and when you can block the ports.
Why USB blocking is not enough
A USB blocker can prevent indiscriminate use of USBs, however, its limitations are too substantial for widespread use. Productivity is increased by 53 percent when employees can use personal mobile devices, which highlights the importance of adopting a strategy that is more inclusive of employee preferences. USB control software built into a data leak prevention solution is a more effective strategy to prevent data theft.
The major disadvantages of USB blockers are:
- The inconvenience caused to employees by restricting the use of modems, mouses, and other devices that require USB ports.
- USB blocking is vastly inadequate to prevent data leaks. A rogue user can still leak data through other channels like emails, cloud applications, and more.