You have to admit that today\'s viruses and malware in general benefit from the most incredible creativity and ingenuity when created. There is always a door to your computer and if not sealed in time or at least monitored properly chances are a nasty finds it and infects your machine.
One of the recent technological contraptions on the market has reached to enjoy so much success that it is barely seen as a novelty and it is regarded more like a standard users cannot do without. To make a long story short, I am talking about USB sticks and how they can become the means for infecting your system.
A well placed nasty and a simple command in a trivial autorun.inf file can unleash a battle you may have lost from the beginning if security is not a priority. Sure, there are variables for this to happen and one of them is for you not to know the USB stick you plug into your computer. Another one is for you not to enforce adequate security on the machine so that the nasty may enter and do its job undetected.
Fortunately there are plenty of applications up to the protecting job, both in the category of firewalls as well as in the category of antivirus software and there are even some really good freebies available. But here comes another one: USB Disk Security. Its purpose is to prevent malware located on inserted USB sticks from infecting the entire computer. The application does not reside on the USB drive but on the computer and every time you stick the memory in the system it\'ll immediately analyze the storage device and alert you by displaying the threats.
It is not a freeware, but considering the task it has taken upon its shoulders this would only be natural. Testing it without paying the $55 price is no sweat, especially when there is no other limitation than the fact that the malicious items cannot be deleted.
The interface is nice and comfortable as all the options are aligned in the upper part of the screen and switching between them only requires a click of your mouse. Immediately after sticking the USB flash into the computer USB Disk Security will alert you about the existent potential threats. During our testing it detected the autorun.inf file as being a risky item.
It\'s true that this little file could be the starter of a mass infection but it would be nice if the user was given an overview of the commands and files to be executed via autorun.inf. Instead USB Disk Security simply marks it as a risky file offering one possibility only: deletion. It is a known fact that most users rely on the commands included in this little file and they generally know what it contains, ergo deleting it altogether is not such a good idea.
A scan option is also provided by the application and I have to admit that the process is pretty fast, in our case the results being displayed in less than a minute. Using proactive protection the software does not need regular updates. However, as it usually happens, proactive protection is not 100% accurate and is prone to generating false positives. In the case of USB Disk Security false positives is all we were served. Not even when we added a number of malware on the USB drive did the number of results alter in any way.
The application would always detect perfectly safe files belonging to portable software as \"suspicious\".
Again, the only option available was deleting them. No search on the Internet for more information on them, only deletion which actually sends the files directly to Quarantine from where you can later restore them. Also, it seems that the scanner will label as \"suspicious\" anything with BAT or CMD extension, regardless of its purpose.
Memory Shield option is designed to monitor potentially unsafe actions performed by applications and \"close the window of vulnerability left open by other products\' reactive, signature-based responses\". Unfortunately the feature could not be tested as it did not react in any way to our malware stimuli, no matter what.
USB Tools section contains two options for protecting your computer from the malicious USB drive. The first one allows you to enable/disable immunity by automatically blocking most malicious programs from USB drive. Be advised that turning this feature on results in disabling the AUTORUN on the drive and creating USB Disk Security directories on each drive of your computer, named AUTORUN.INF.
Upon acquiring and then canceling the immunity on our test computer, a very strange message popped up alerting that there may be a virus on the USB drive and advising that I should use an antivirus software to solve the matter. If you ponder a bit, an antivirus software costs between $40-$70 (but let\'s say $40); add the $55 the USB Disk Security costs and you\'ve got yourself a $95 bargain. From what I can tell immunity\'s purpose is to prevent executing automatic commands via AUTORUN.
The second option in USB Tools is Safely Remove. This action guarantees safe removal of USB drives once all files stored on it are closed. The principle driving USB Disk Security is simple: an Explorer restart and then launching the long \"Safely Remove Hardware\" wizard. To tell you the truth I simply click on the USB icon in system tray, pick the one I want out and that is it.
One of the final tools available in USB Disk Security is RepairSystem which brings registry repair and disk cleanup options up front. The first one will restore a bunch of folders and files: Folder Options, My Documents, Windows History, Favorites, Search, Run, etc. so, if you have changed the homepage in IE, kiss it goodbye unless you have another software to alert and prevent the change. The purpose is noble as in case of infection it restores them to the default state, but there is no alert to this. So you\'d better use this function in case of infection only.
Clean Up tool deletes all unnecessary files, starting with cookies (it does not matter if you still need them), Windows and IE temporary files, log of recent documents and everything that has been recycled.
Last one in the list, Autostart, simply displays the elements programmed to start with Windows. Besides the fact that the only control over them is deleting them, USB Disk Security failed in our case to display all of them leaving two startup items aside.
Autostart pretty much wraps up the list of functions and options available in the program. You get to decide on the price and utility of the software as well as on testing it on your own machine.
The interface is extremely easy to handle and tool descriptions help the user to better understand the role and function of the features. The icons are nicely drawn.
I will limit to putting functionality and price to the balance and I have to say that there is nothing appealing in neither of them. Oh, and when uninstalling, look for MyAppVerName as that is in fact USB Disk security.
I can\'t think of a tool that cannot be replaced in USB Disk Security by a freeware and with much greater success. USB Shield displays autorun.inf as being risky, the scanner showed false positives only, memory shield could not be tested, USB Tools are not exactly a good way to treat your removable drive, RepairSystem isn\'t exactly efficient and Autostart failed to display all startup elements.
For all this you have to pay $55 and still need an antivirus software to detect and eliminate malware. Now $40, the cost of a good antivirus and $55, the cost of USB Disk Security, makes $95 when you can perfectly well get yourself a good firewall and system monitor and witness any change made to the system and spend the dough on something more useful.