You’ve probably experienced this before: finding a USB stick on a bench in a train station or on a table inside a train compartment. It might seem like a kind gesture to plug it into your computer to find the owner, but this could have serious consequences. As recently warned by the Antwerp Public Prosecutor’s Office, these USB sticks can infect your computer with malware or other harmful software, potentially leading to data breaches or the activation of ransomware.
However, this tactic by cybercriminals is not new. Already in 2016, police in Melbourne, Australia, warned against using USB sticks found in mailboxes. Similar incidents even occurred in 2012, where criminals spread malware by ‘losing’ USB sticks in parking lots.
The Dangers of USB Sticks
USB sticks can hold a wealth of data and appear harmless but are a perfect means for hackers to gain access to your computer. Once connected, they can automatically install malware that steals sensitive information, such as passwords and financial details. The damage can range from simple adware to serious ransomware attacks, where files are encrypted and only released after paying a ransom. In 2016, researchers at the Black Hat cybersecurity conference demonstrated how USB sticks can be used to compromise systems. They showed that even an innocuous-looking stick could contain malicious code that takes over your system as soon as it is plugged in.
What Should You Do If You Find a USB Stick?
- Do Not Plug It In: The most important rule is never to insert a found USB stick into your computer.
- Remove It From Public Space: Take the stick with you to prevent others from using it and possibly getting infected.
- Turn It In at Lost and Found: Take the stick to the lost and found service at the train station or another location, or to your local police station. Always mention where and when you found the stick.
What to Do in Case of a Ransomware Infection?
If you become a victim of a ransomware attack, it’s crucial to stay calm and follow the right steps. On our blog, we have a detailed article about ‘No More Ransom’, an initiative that fights against ransomware. This article offers valuable information and tools to help you in such a situation.
Prevention is Better Than Cure
It’s essential to always stay vigilant and take preventive measures. Make sure your antivirus software is up-to-date and regularly back up important files. Also, be skeptical about USB sticks you find, no matter how harmless they might seem.
Our Role in Cybersecurity
At Detective Bureau Bayo, we specialize in a wide range of private detective services. Although we are not experts in cybersecurity, we understand the importance of digital safety in our modern world. For issues related to cybersecurity, we always advise contacting specialized professionals.
Using a found USB stick can be tempting, but the risks are too great to ignore. We hope this information helps you become more aware of how you handle digital devices and protects you against potential cyber threats. Always remember: if you find an unknown USB stick, think twice before taking any action.