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Smartphones Get Headlines, But Lax USB Security Is Just As Risky
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1eustace
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1eustace,
User Rank: Strategist
1/7/2015 | 1:07:06 PM
Re: Managing USBs? Impossible!
Great points.  But such DLP policies come at a great cost – efficiency & productivity loss.  It is not a surprise organizations that sustain such models are less concerned about costs.  Most non-governmental organizations will go under if they make similar sacrifices, with very few exceptions.  I have worked with some of these exceptions, private companies with close to DoD type DLP strategies, and the only reason they get away with such is because they have other companies freely working for them.  Not an exact analogy but this is akin to Wal-Mart having suppliers doing most of their work towards stocking their shelves.  Outside of these select few, strict DLP strategies are not an option to most organizations.  Not to lose hope, more practical solutions are possible but such will require tying the USB infrastructure into hardened security hardware. Unfortunately, it might require more major exploitations for the industry to head in this direction.
exacttrak
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exacttrak,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/15/2014 | 4:50:36 AM
Secure USB Flash Drives
It is one thing to have a USB Flash Drive that encrypts data but the issue is that what happens when a USB Flash Drive is lost or stolen. My company, ExactTrak manufactures and sells a USB Flash Drive that can be tracked, managed and destroyed all through a central management console and without the need to be plugged in to a host PC or Laptop. If one of our customers has a Security Guardian device lost or stolen they can locate the device, anywhere in the world and turn off access to the data. They can then choose to retrieve to the device or remotely destroy (not delete or overwrite the data but destroy the device). Same thing goes for when an employee leaves the company. If they don't hand the device back it can be destroyed to ensure company data is not compromised.
ODA155
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ODA155,
User Rank: Ninja
12/11/2014 | 4:55:35 PM
Re: Managing USBs? Impossible!
"Any data moved to USB devices at my former employer were automatically encrypted as was all data on laptop hard drives and SSDs."

Same here, as well as an email to the offender from the DLP system telling them what they just did was a violation of policy and alert that was sent to IR (Incedent Response) who inturn contacted the offending individuals manager within 10-15 minutes if it happened during the work day. All a company would need is a good DLP solution, policy and someone to monitor\manage it properly.
dholcombe
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dholcombe,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/11/2014 | 4:32:05 PM
Re: Managing USBs? Impossible!
Any data moved to USB devices at my former employer were automatically encrypted as was all data on laptop hard drives and SSDs. Unfortunately they missed encrypting data going to drives attached via eSATA on laptops. You have to think about all vectors through which data can flow rather than a select few. Just targetting USB is also not enough, you must also make sure you take care of any built in card readers, eSATA, or other ports through which data may flow.

As far as encryption of USB itself, that policy/program was quite successful and most users outside of engineering/IT did not have eSATA ports. For 90%+ of our userbase it became impossible to copy unencrypted data to a USB key and then lose it in an airport.
aws0513
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aws0513,
User Rank: Ninja
12/11/2014 | 11:05:25 AM
Re: Managing USBs? Impossible!
There are places where USB policies are quite strict and overtly enforced.

First would be government classified environments where USB storage is highly controlled.  In some SCIF environments, even having a USB device on your person is grounds for administrative action.  The DoD mandates the use of USB protections (both physical and logical) to prevent unauthorized use of USB storage of any kind.
Where USB devices are used in classified environments, they are (supposed to be) highly monitored and controlled.
The policies behind the USB restrictions in classified environments is usually part of a larger DLP strategy that includes how hard media (CDs/DVDs/tapes) is managed and controlled. 

BTW...  those classified programs still function just fine without USB storage devices.  Albeit some could claim they could be working better, most classified systems owners have determined the risk is not worthy of the benefits.
Workers within those environments are not given an opportunity to even try to buck the trend.  In general, all workers within classified environments accept the situation as necessary and normal. Anything less stringent seems alien to them and is usually met with distrust and very little acceptance.

Another place I have seen similar policies was on critical banking and finance systems where the organization implemented administrative and technical controls to prevent wholesale data exfiltration due to internal threats.
Again, the workers in those environments accepted the situation as normal. 

In the end, the implementation of a strong USB storage use policy is a matter of willpower of the organization to take the necessary steps to implement effective controls and cultural acceptance that such policies and practices must exist.
The best example analogy I can relate in this matter would be smoking.  Twenty years ago nobody would have considered it possible that laws would exist prohibiting smoking within pubs/taverns/bars.  Now we have several states with such laws with likely more to follow.  All of this still came down to willpower to enact/enforce and cultural acceptance to conform to the new standard.
Marilyn Cohodas
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50%
Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
12/11/2014 | 9:30:22 AM
Re: Managing USBs? Impossible!
Prohibiting USBs or requring encryption seems to me like an a totally unenforceable policy. Simpler to plug up USB ports on all company-owned laptops -- and even that is unthinkable...

Curious to know what, if any, USB policies are in place within the Dark Reading community. Any success/horror stories to share?
CAMROBERSON
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CAMROBERSON,
User Rank: Author
12/10/2014 | 7:48:53 PM
Re: Managing USBs? Impossible!
Agree completely. It's incredible (and illogical), though, given the ease of data loss! The exact same dangerous data on other digital platforms is watched like a hawk, but no polices (or cares?) seem to exist around protecting it on other forms. Maybe it's time to disallow USBs or start enforcing encryption/authentication like on other devices.
Marilyn Cohodas
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100%
Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
12/10/2014 | 3:51:48 PM
Managing USBs? Impossible!
It's hard for me to imagine enterprises -- let alone SMBs -- developing policies  and strategies around USB security. Smartphones may get headlines, but companies haven't really cracked the BYOD code for employees. The ubiquitous USB seems like an even greater challenge... 

 


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