15 - No good deed goes unpunished

Unsichtbares Akkordeon

Had he not picked it up, he wouldn't have been attacked.


Researchers of the University of Illinois performed an experiment to investigate if people are plugging USB devices that they find on the street into their computers.

The results of the study show that the majority of the sticks were picked up quickly and in many cases the data were accessed. A file on the sticks enabled the researchers to see which files on the devices were opened. Although curiosity was the reason to pick up the USB stick for many people, the majority wanted to find out the identity of the owner in order to return the device. However, the authors found that only a few people took safety measures before opening the files on the stick. It is easy to imagine that a method similar to the harmless attack by the researchers could be used by real criminals.

The example shows that it is important to be cautious when using unfamiliar external storage devices in order to prevent attacks on computers. In addition, the study shows that lost storage devices will often be searched by the finder and sensitive data can become accessible to non-authorized persons. Thus, external storage devices (e.g. USB stick, external hard drive) which contain sensitive data should always be password-protected and/or encrypted.