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Why cutting off USB ports is not a smart security solution

January 25th, 2010 by Agent Smith (1) Data Theft & Loss,DLP,endpoint security

The USB ports leading to the computers in your network are somewhat of a hell hole, opening up the way to scary security breaches. It all comes down to the use of portable devices that can store large amounts of data that employees and visitors carry around, plug in and use, regardless of all the security red alerts popping up each step of the way.

But completely cutting access to USB ports, although still used, is not a smart move if you’re trying to protect your data against accidental loss or theft. Lawsuits, fines and seeing your customers drop like flies are all scary scenarios, but fear should never prevent you from playing it smart.

Thinking about it for a while, cutting USB access also means printers. So your employees cannot get their laptop connected to any office printer and start printing reports, contracts and offers. They need to only use some authorized printers, through the network, causing long queues, angry comments and general discomfort. Their way of working might be affected, rendering them less productive.

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And almost always, all prohibitions turn people against the person making the decision and encourage attempts to circumvent them. I am sure you’ve all worked in companies where some people could circumvent the firewall to download movies and play online games! And I am sure you’ve heard all the nasty comments when some random policy was enforced causing more harm then good.

Plus, the data security you dream of is just an illusion. People can still email sensitive documents, use the very printers you have authorized to print out all your client list and take it to the competition. You might monitor such activity, but if you think you’re safe, why would you?

Why upset your employees with don’ts and forbiddens for a false sense of security when you can allow them to use authorized devices and monitor file activity and transfers instead? Why worry when you can use a file whitelisting system to make sure they can’t really access sensitive information? Why not use a data loss prevention and device control solution to allow the to use the latest technology and stay safe at the same time?

One Response to “Why cutting off USB ports is not a smart security solution”

  1. US thumb drives finally allowed on Pentagon premises | Endpoint Security Info Says:

    [...] previously explained how banning something altogether instead of ensuring a safe way to use that piece of technology is not really the smartest idea out there. And our theory seems to be confirmed by the Pentagon: [...]

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