It’s often necessary to move data from one system or device to another one, and there are various ways to do this. The advent of cloud storage means that moving data might not even be necessary for some of us, but every now and then the need still arises. USB flash drives remain a useful way to move data quickly, and is still a popular option. But is the data on these drives at risk?

The answer, which may surprise you, is yes – and they can pose a security threat. Today we’ll look at the challenges USB flash storage poses for business and what you need to know about keeping the data they store secure.


USB flash drives are usually tiny, so they’re easy to carry about. Though small, they can also store a lot of data. It’s because they’re so small that they’re easy for them to get lost or for someone to steal them. It wouldn’t be difficult to leave it in a device somewhere or to drop it somewhere out of the office, with obvious security implications. Some USB flash drives enable data encryption and let the user set passcodes to protect access. However, many don’t and so other methods of data transfer are often preferred.

Out of the Office

Using USB flash drives can be convenient for data transfer, but once it’s left the workplace it’s not easy to track where the data is, who is accessing it and how it’s being used. Organizations that deal with sensitive and confidential data should beware, especially if the industry they work in is subject to data privacy requirements by law. Data is an asset for your business. You don’t want your financial information, intellectual property, customer information or other data to be removed from your premises. If it were to be lost, stolen or (in a worst-case scenario) sold to the opposition, it could have severe consequences for your company. This means that USB flash drive use should perhaps be prohibited, or your system should be partitioned so only authorized personnel can access your key data.

Malware and Infections

USB flash drives are just as vulnerable to security threats as anything else. The fact that they can be used on multiple devices potentially makes them vehicles for spreading bad code. The more devices a flash drive connects to, with files copied across, the more likely it is that malware can be spread. This isn’t just a hypothetical situation. It’s already happened with the BadUSB firmware hack, where malicious code was inserted into the USB drive’s firmware, and programmed to execute when plugged into a device.

The advantage of cloud storage is that it’s easier to keep secure, and the security measures used are such that any problems can and will speedily be detected. USB drives, on the other hand, are hard to secure and any malicious code in the firmware is invisible to the user. It may not be the biggest security threat in the world but using USB drives can put your data at risk. With cloud storage there’s no physical hardware that can be damaged or corrupted.

Does your work regularly require you to move data around? Are you using USBs to do that? If so, the IT professionals at Quikteks can help you move on from older hardware and implement solutions for data transfer that will make sure it’s always secure. Call us today at (973) 882-4644 for more information.