How to Protect Your USB from the Risk of Data Loss

What if somehow you misplace your USB drive which contains your sensitive private data? This can be a scary situation because you’ll not only lose your valuable data but your USB stick may fall into the wrong hands. Storing sensitive information on an unsecured USB stick is risky because if it gets lost, a criminal can easily steal the owner’s identity, steal money or sell the personal information to the dark web.

USB memory sticks and portable storage devices are quite popular to store data because they’re inexpensive, smaller in size, and store a large volume of data. These devices are convenient to use, however, they’re vulnerable to data breaches and loss. Moreover, their small size makes them more prone to getting lost or stolen than any other media devices. Considering the misuse or extrusion of sensitive information, many companies like IBM has even banned its staff from using all removable storage devices, such as USB sticks, SD cards, and flash drives.

So if you need to carry personal information on a USB stick, it’s necessary to take some precautionary measure to protect your data. You don’t need to discontinue using a USB stick, just follow a few simple pieces of advice to keep your precious information secure. Here are some tips for avoiding USB data and information misuse.

  1. Encrypt your data

If you carry personal information on a USB, make sure to encrypt the device. Some devices come with an encryption solution while for others there are many solutions on the market such as VeraCrypt. By encrypting any devices on which you carry personal or sensitive information no one unauthorized can access it. In this method, you can use a password to encrypt and decrypt files and devices to get a safety net against potential threats. A USB drive with encrypted data will need a decryption key for reading information. But remember, the user is required to install data encryption software on all devices that use this USB.

For Windows users, BitLocker To Go is the easiest way to encrypt an entire USB portable storage device. You may also consider using third-party encryption software such as TrueCrypt or GNU Privacy Guard. Another option is using encrypted hardware or a combination of both hardware and software to encrypt your device. However, always make sure that you don’t lose the hardware decryption key because this will result in losing access to the data.

  1. Educate your employees about the risks

USB drives are susceptible to data breaches because they provide a quick, easy way to extract data. For companies, these portable devices may become risky because it’s difficult to trace USB usage which makes it hard to establish accountability for stolen data. To avoid these risks and USB data loss, keep educating your employees about the safe practices and the dangers of careless use of such devices. Everyone in the company must know the risks associated with data loss and breaches. Moreover, maintain a complete inventory of laptops, desktop computers, handheld, and other devices that are on your network to monitor how the data that you handle is processed.

  1. Remove the device properly

Whether you’re using a USB stick to store your personal information or for carrying business data, always remain cautious. It’s important to properly remove the device to prevent it from damages. Just to save a few seconds, never pull a thumb drive out of the USB port without first selecting “remove device safely” from the lower toolbar in Windows. Improperly removing a device or pulling it out when data is being transferred may result in corrupting or deleting your important files that will require logical data recovery to access them. Apart from this, keep your USB save and check your pockets before you put them in the laundry.