Two thirds of businesses have lost data through careless use of USB sticks

By Robert Shepherd
09 Aug 2011 View Comments
USB memory stick

Over the past two years, more than two thirds of businesses have lost either sensitive or confidential data due to the careless use of USB sticks.

According to a study carried out by the Ponemon Institute, sponsored by flash memory manufacturer Kingston Digital, some 70 per cent of firms have traced the loss of sensitive or confidential information back to memory sticks.

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Furthermore, some 55 per cent of such incidents are linked to malware-infected devices that introduced malicious code onto corporate networks.

Thirty-six per cent of the survey respondents said their approach to USB drives was "total lockdown through the use of a software solution to block the use of USB ports."

However, the survey found that for most businesses, the use of USB drives is widespread. Furthermore, about half of featured businesses have policies detailing how employees can use memory sticks to store sensitive or confidential information – but only half of those firms enforce them.

Meanwhile, the study found that just 21 per cent of organisations with USB device security policies use data loss prevention tools, and just 13 per cent use network analysis technology to identify the misuse of USB drives.

About 743 IT and information security professionals were polled, including employees from government agencies.

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