Can A USB Be Hacked? If So, How?

    It is a completely novel form of computer security threat: Not viruses, but modified firmware might enable USB gadgets to secretly snoop on PC users. IT experts warn that the new threats are tough to counter.

    Yes, a USB can be hacked and data of the USB can be compromised as well. Furthermore, even a USB can be utilized as a tool to hack some other device like a computer or a laptop, etc. 

    This article will elaborate on whether a USB is prone to hacking or not. Furthermore, the possibilities of using USB’s for hacking purposes by attackers and spammers will be discussed as well. 

    USB May Be Used By Hackers To Steal Data

    Simply move a document from your computer onto your USB flash drive, attach an external drive or a camera for Internet video conversations, and you’re all set. 

    This is something that many individuals do on a daily basis, posing a higher security risk than initially anticipated. USB sticks have mostly been involved with the dissemination of malicious infections.

    Now, however, experts from Berlin data security firm and Security Research Labs have demonstrated how sniffer software may conceal itself on small chips within USB devices. 

    This permits them to be operated remotely and undetected, and users have no recourse. It is a nightmare situation that may portend a new form of a hacking attack.

    Malware is concealed within the USB device’s firmware, the section responsible for device control. It provides all the information necessary for a computer to quickly detect whether a USB-connectable device is a memory stick, camera, or keyboard.

    Strong Passwords Are No Longer Secure

    The following is an example of a hypothetical attack scenario: a user enters a USB stick into the computer. The antivirus program provides a green light. In actuality, the stick has already been altered and now functions as a network card.

    This gives the attacker the ability to copy all data flow. Worse still, if attackers have prepared the USB stick, they may access the stolen data without needing to take physical possession of the device. Internet connectivity is sufficient enough.

    Nothing To Guard Against The USB

    The theft of data may also employ a keylogger, which logs every keystroke. The data entered by the user is subsequently saved. 

    Likewise, the USB stick may capture screenshots, for instance of a document containing sensitive information. With this hacking approach, an engineering office’s top-secret patent may be simply spied on and the proprietary information sold on the dark web.

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    Almost Ideal Concealment

    The disguise is nearly flawless and difficult to detect. The USB device may masquerade as a keyboard, camera, or network adapter. And chances are nobody will notice, as there are virus scanners incapable of detecting altered firmware. The altered control chip is immune to direct control.

    Currently, it is not feasible to effectively guard against this type of data theft. Experts thus encourage the IT sector to upgrade the USB standard immediately. Today, thumb drives are utilized virtually everywhere. 

    Regardless of whether they are a plain metal memory drive, a branded gift at an event, or artfully camouflaged as Yoda or another pop culture symbol, these devices are generally accepted as a simple method of data transfer.

    Unfortunately, fraudsters are also fond of thumb drives and can use them to infect your computer. In a USB drop attack, fraudsters distribute USB devices for anyone to locate and insert into their computers. 

    The “found” USP stick is inserted into a computer’s USB port by a Good Samaritan wanting to return it or a money pincher seeking to obtain a free item. Then, trouble ensues.

    Types of USB Attacks

    There are many types of USB attacks through hacking. Some of them are given as:-

    1. Malicious Code 

    In the most fundamental USB drop attack, the user has clicked on one of the folders on the drive that contains malicious code. This executes dangerous code immediately upon viewing, which can download further viruses from the Internet.

    Therefore, prevent your USB files from getting infected by malicious code by not plugging in any storage media into your machines unless you have 100% verified its safety.

    2. Social Engineering

     An attacker may embed malicious code into a document in the USB storage. This document when opened, may direct the victim to a phishing website, where they are tricked into revealing their login information.

    3. HID (Human Interface Device) Phishing

    In a more advanced assault, the USB-looking device would deceive the computer into believing a keyboard is connected. When inserted into a system, it injects inputs to provide an attacker remote connection to the victim’s system. 

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    These devices are a lot harder to control access to because they aren’t recognized by the computer as a storage device, because they aren’t. These USB-looking devices mimic the firmware and signatures of a keyboard or mouse. This advantage allows the attacker to load malicious scripts on the device that will execute very quickly on the victim machine.

    Common USB Exploits

    Due to the availability of autorun software on USB sticks, all just an attacker needs to do to activate an infected USB stick’s harmful payload is insert it into a computer. 

    However, USB devices may not always need to be hooked into the PC; this makes them extremely difficult to discover and defeat. These are a few of the most prevalent exploits found on USB devices:-

    1. USB Rubber Ducky

    Once connected to a PC, the Rubber Ducky proceeds to impersonate your keyboard and utilizes keystrokes to deactivate firewalls, open backdoors for remote control, and inform network monitoring applications that everything is fine.

    2. KeySweeper

    The KeySweeper hack, camouflaged as a USB wall charger, is a highly well-hidden gadget that uses wireless access to locate and eavesdrop on nearby Microsoft wireless keyboards. In addition, by tracking keystrokes, KeySweeper may swiftly acquire login information and send it to a remote site.

    3. BadUSB

    Another USB stick hacking, BadUSB uses your keyboard to reprogram firmware linked with your USB devices, e.g. network cards to route users to sites that contain malicious software that will infect your whole network shortly.

    Thankfully, there are a few basic precautions you can do to protect yourself from USB hacks:

    • Inform your users of the risks associated with USB devices. 
    • Some attackers have been spotted leaving infected USB drives in the parking lots of major businesses in the hopes that an inquisitive employee will plug it into his or her work computer.
    • Never utilize owned USB devices for your business; always get brand-new, untampered equipment. 
    • Disable USB storage port usage on your organization’s PCs and restrict access to only trusted admins. 
    • This is arguably the most certain approach to stop any contaminated USB devices from activating their contents, as the USB ports will be rendered ineffective.

    USB Security Breaches

    USB assaults may appear to be restricted to digital phones, but the ramifications can be considerably greater. 

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    Stuxnet, a computer malware that infected programs at industrial locations in Iran, including an enriched uranium plant, is a well-known instance of a USB drop assault. 

    The malware targeted Siemens industrial control systems, infiltrated the system’s hardware platforms, spied just on targeted systems, and supplied false input to make discovery even more difficult; it all started with an infected USB stick.

    Avoid being a victim. When it comes to the security of your firm, proactive prevention is the ideal approach. Set up a conversation with us, and we’ll help you choose a method that makes work for your specific requirements.

    Trustwave placed five USB drives emblazoned with the logos of the targeted firm in the neighborhood of the organization’s facility as part of an experiment to determine the viability of a USB scam. 

    At the organization, four of the three “lost and found” initiatives were initiated. Even the software used to regulate the group’s physical security was visible via one of the breaches.

    And why not if you’re a hacker? The human impulse to help others and our blind faith are two of the most effective instruments for a bad actor. 

    It is not difficult to picture what you would do if you discovered a USB stick left near the copier or water cooler. 

    You’d likely assume someone in your workplace lost it, and the simplest answer would be to connect it to your computer to see whether it has any identifying information.

    Imagine that there is a file titled “Joe Resume.pdf” Wouldn’t that appear to be a secure and helpful file to access in order to return that device to its owner? 

    As you probably know, however, the identical file may be configured to convey dangerous malware to your computer.

    Most common users are ignorant of how to properly determine the owner of a USB stick; thus, educate employees on the risk posed by discovered USB drives and encourage them to turn them into IT.


    In light of the above-cited facts as well as arguments, it can be conclusively said that a USB can be hacked to access the files within it. However, the same USB can also be utilized for hacking purposes as well by hackers to exploit users’ data. 

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