Tech Tips Home
The Best Tech Tips And Daily Deals
Newsletter On The Internet!

Shop online 24hrs a day or call us Mon-Fri
8:30AM-4:30PM EST - 1-800-915-2088
WorldStart Tech Tip And Store Search
Email: Password: Login Remember Me
looking for freeware

Like what you see here? Subscribe to the Tech Tips newsletter!   Email: Subscribe

Blocking Unauthorized USB Devices

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010 by | Filed Under: Hardware & Peripherals, Security Help, Uncategorized
 
Loading...


Note: This tip may not apply to all versions of Windows.

In terms of computer security and privacy, USB devices are usually the weakest point. Even the strongest firewall or security software can be bypassed just by plugging in a USB drive.

With the growing amount of data a single USB flash drive can hold (up to 128 GB) and the increase to data transfer speed (with USB 3.0) you can imagine how easy it is to copy data to such a device. Using the newest generation of USB devices, data thieves can copy your entire hard drive in minutes.

Besides data theft and privacy issues, USB devices are now the main method of propagation for computer viruses and spyware. Inserting an unknown USB device into a computer can be dangerous. As most of the worms transmitted this way are new, they could go undetected even by the best security suites.

So, how can we protect our privacy and data from such a security risk? By giving access to the computer to only those USB devices that we trust.

This is easily done by modifying NTFS permissions on a few Windows system files to allow only specific users the right to install USB devices on that computer.

Note: To follow the steps below in Windows Vista and 7, you need to be logged in with an administrator account or have administrator rights for the computer. Windows XP users, see the notes throughout the article for similar steps.

The files we need to modify are located in the Windows\inf folder on your primary partition (usually C :).

To make it easier to navigate to the folder and make sure you can find it regardless of how your partitions are set up, we are going to use a shortcut.

image

Go to the Start Menu and type the command %windir%\inf into the search field. Then press the Enter key to confirm.

Note: In Windows XP, go to the Start Menu and click on Run, then type in the command %windir%\inf and press the Enter key.

This will open an Explorer window directly to the inf folder. Scroll down the list of files and folders until you reach the files usbstor and usbstor.PNF (they should be next to each other).

image

Now, to modify the NTFS permissions for these files, right-click on each file and select Properties (the last item on the contextual menu).

image

In the Properties window go to the Security tab and click the Edit… button. A new window containing NTFS permissions for the file will open.

Note: In Windows XP, if you do not see the Security tab, go back to the inf folder window and click on Tools and then click on Folder Options…. Next, go to the View tab and uncheck the Use simple file sharing box (the last one under Advanced settings). After you click OK to apply, you should see the Security tab.

Warning! Do not deny permissions to the SYSTEM group. In addition, you must allow access to these files to at least one group of users. If you check Deny on all users, you will not be able to install new USB devices on that computer (until you reinstall Windows).

image

Here you can see a list of all the user groups active on your computer. Select the user or user group you want to block from installing USB devices and check the Deny box next to Full control (under Permissions for users). To confirm and exit, click the OK button.

If you receive a Windows Security warning, click Yes twice to apply the settings. Also, remember that you need to go through these steps and change permissions on both files.

To reverse these settings and allow the blocked users to install USB devices, log in with your administrator account (one that still has access to the files), follow the steps above and uncheck all the Deny boxes for that user.

~Cosmin Ursachi

Leave a Reply


Like these tips? Get them for FREE in your email!

WorldStart's Tech Tips Newsletter

  • Tech Tips Daily - Become a tech pro! Get the very best tech and computer help sent directly to your email every weekday!

  • Tech Tips Weekly - If you don't want our Tech Tips newsletter every day, then sign up for this weekly newsletter to get the best information of the week. Sent on Fridays.

Other Newsletters

  • WorldStart's Daily Deals - Every week, we send out great deals in our Daily Deals newsletter. Many of these deals are exclusively for our Daily Deals newsletter subscribers and can't be found with our regular specials.

  • Just For Grins - Each issue includes a couple clean jokes, some funny quotes, and a hilarious reader's story. Newsletter is sent five days a week.


Enter Email Address:

Subscribe

Your e-mail address is safe with us!
We only use it to send you the newsletters you request. It is NEVER disclosed to a third party for any reason, ever! Plus, if you decided you don't like our newsletters (don't worry, you'll love them), unsubscribing is fast and easy.

Free Newsletter Signup



Tech Tips Daily

Become a tech pro! Get the very best tech and computer help sent directly to your email every weekday!

Tech Tips Weekly

The week's best in tech and computer help. Get your issue sent to your email every Friday!

WorldStart's Daily Deals

The very best deals on the Internet! Get a new set of incredible sales every day of the week!

Just For Grins

Clean jokes, funny quotes, and hilarious comics. Sent 5 times a week straight to your email.


Subscribe


Love Worldstart? Refer A Friend!

looking for freeware
WorldStart's Premium Membership

Tip Archive


Categories:
Archives: