Protect your USB flash drive against viruses
Do you remember diskettes? The floppy drives that are just about obsolete and a thing of the past? These were the biggest virus spreaders in their day.
If you had a clean computer, there was no other way for a virus to enter your computer, but through the floppy.
The Internet changed that a bit, but nowadays it is unlikely that you get infected from the Internet if you have a decent virus scanner and a firewall. If your internet provider is good and you are behind a router, then there is almost no way a hacker will bother to enter your machine.
But flash drives travel around like the diskettes of the past used to and the most common threat nowadays is to get infected by putting such a virus infested USB stick into your machine.
What can you do? One of the most likely carriers of infections on a USB Flash drive is the autorun.Inf file paired with the auto-run option of the system that automatically opens such files without a prompt.
It can be very easily remedied with a handy free utility called USB Vaccine by Panda Security. Downloadable for free from their web site, the Panda USB Vaccine disables the autorun feature on the computer you run it on and on any USB drive you select it to vaccinate.
You can, of course, re-enable the function in your computer at a later time just as easily. You should note, however that the USB drive that is vaccinated cannot be reversed and accept autorun again, the change is permanent. With this little vaccination, you can fix your flash drive that you intend to carry around with you.
What shall you do if you do not want to remove that capability, but would still like to carry your USB around?
The solution is another little program that is called Protect My Disk. This program copies a little folder onto your disk that will prevent any program to install an autorun.Inf file in future and remove any such existing files as well.
What is different here, is the fact that this program has the capability of restoring your drive at a later point. After running the Protect My Disk program, you can take your USB flash drive anywhere else and not run the risk of getting infected.
While the files that you copy on that drive may still have dangerous properties, none of the files will auto-execute.
Is my USB flash drive now safe?
If the data on your USB drive should not be erased and you do not want any other data to enter your USB drive, unless you directly specify so, you may also use one of the existing write protection utilities that make your USB drive read-only.
Whilst such programs remove your capability to put something onto your USB drive when away, they also protect you from accidental infection other than the mentioned autorun. Inf routine. All above programs are available for download online. No driver installation is necessary.