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USB malware increasing warns Avast

Virus writers increasingly using devices to launch attacks via Windows’ AutoRun feature

USB malware increasing warns Avast
USB attacks are becoming more and more common, warns Avast.

One out of eight computer attacks are being carried out via USB devices, according to the latest figures from security vendor Avast.

The growth in attacks is down to the increase in USB-transmitted malware targeting the AutoRun feature in Windows. According to Avast’s figures, of the 700,000 attacks recorded on computers installed with its software during the last week of October, one out of eight attacks were via USBs-based viruses attempting to take advantage of Windows’ AutoRun feature.

The situation has become so bad, Avast has described the feature as the “key attack point” for almost all malware targeting Windows, whether USB-bound or introduced to the PC by other means.

“Autorun is a really useful tool, but it is also a way to spread more than two-thirds of current malware,” said Jan Sirmer, virus analyst at Avast. “The threat of USB-distributed malware is much more widespread than just the Stuxnet attacks on enterprise computers – which were also spread via infected memory sticks.

“Cyber-criminals are taking advantage of people’s natural inclination to share with their friends and the growing memory capacity of USB devices. Put these two factors together and we have an interesting scenario,” he added.

The company recommended CIOs ensure that users don’t start PCs with USB devices attached as many of these viruses are designed to load themselves on to the PC prior to any antivirus software starting and most duplicate themselves each time the machine is started up.

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