How safe is your digital life?


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See a USB on the ground? Don’t pick it up; it might be nothing but trouble!

A USB stick is not just a portable storage device (PSD). They contain sophisticated processing capabilities and can take control not just of your computer but anything else you’re connected to.

A number of shocking examples of overseas data breaches demonstrate how easily the use of PSDs can result in the loss of personal information:

  • 100 USB flash drives, some containing secret information, have been lost or stolen from the UK Ministry of Defence since 2004.
  • In December 2008, a USB flash drive containing details of over 6,000 prisoners was lost by a health agency at a UK prison.
  • Unencrypted details of almost 900 customers, including accounts, phone numbers and addresses copied on a USB flash drive, were lost by Bank of Ireland in November 2008.
  • A recent UK survey carried out by a data security firm, found an estimated 9,000 USB flash drives have been left in pockets when clothes were taken to dry cleaners.

If you find a USB stick lying on the ground, ask if someone dropped it and don’t plug it into anything. If it’s not claimed, it’s not a freebie! Dispose of it instead.