Information Security - Protect yourself against - Hacking tools (USB)

A found USB stick or device may look innocent enough. However, it may be used by someone to hack or eavesdrop on you without you noticing. In some cases, it may even damage your computer.

A found USB stick or cable

If you find a USB stick on the street or in a building (at UU or elsewhere), you may be tempted to insert it into your computer to find out the owner or because you're curious to see what's on it. 

Did you know such a USB stick could be dangerous? Once you connect such a stick, it could:

  • Automatically install a virus on your computer
  • Delete or encrypt all of your data (including on your hard drive, U drive, SURFdrive, OneDrive, etc.)
  • Set up its own Wi-Fi network, so that someone can access your data at their leisure
  • Emit high-voltage (220 V) jolts of electricity to physically blow up your computer
  • Eavesdrop on you through a tiny microphone (connected to a 3G network)

You never know whether a USB stick has been left behind on purpose. Sometimes they are even sent by post in the form of a business gift (e.g. toys or a voucher). Connecting a USB stick that you've found lying around should therefore be as off-limits as eating from the floor: you just don't. 

Want to find out how this works?

Hacked USB sticks often pretend they're keyboards. Computers trust these peripherals automatically. Other devices, such as mouses or cables, can also be hacked. A number of examples are shown below. These videos, which were not created by UU, allow you to see how these hacks work with your own eyes. 

What to do if you find one?

Found USB Flash Drives can be dropped off at the reception. It will be noted where and when it was found. If the owner contacts the reception desk, he or she can pick it up.