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I think the title summarizes the question. If that is not clear, leave a comment and I'll clarify further.

EDIT: By the way, I'm interested if it's possible even if it's not ethical as long as it does not harm the said machine. E.g. small script or similar. Maybe asking for admin priviledges before copying so it could access some OS files otherwise restricted.

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Do you want to know if someone on a particular machine viewed anything from USB or CD/DVD, or do you want to know if anyone has viewed information stored on a particular USB key or CD/DVD? – Bevan Oct 9 '10 at 19:39
My question refers to the latter, but would be interesting to know both. – PrettyFormat Oct 9 '10 at 19:52
Does the edit change the nature of the question to "Can I tell if someone has copied information to my computer from a USB drive or CD/DVD?" (Or, did I misunderstand the nature of the question as originally asked?) – BillP3rd Oct 9 '10 at 20:18
No, that does not change the nature of the question. – PrettyFormat Oct 9 '10 at 20:21
For a title to summarise, there must be something to pull the summary from. In future, clarify at least, the body text is there for that reason – random Oct 10 '10 at 20:38

As I understand the question, the scenario would go something like this:

You leave a CD containing information (for the sake of argument, we'll say it's a backup of some financial information from your computer) sitting on your desk. At some point, someone enters your office, spots the CD, pops it into their laptop (which they just happen to be carrying under their arm), and copies everything on it to their hard drive. They then replace the CD. Later when you return, it doesn't appear to be exactly where you left it so you wonder, did someone copy all of my information and should I be cancelling my credit cards now?

If it's a CD (or DVD), then the short answer is no, you have no way of knowing whether the data was copied other than gaining access to the aforementioned laptop and searching for your data.

Now, if it's a USB device, the answer is a definite maybe. Some file systems store the date/time that a file was last accessed and you may be able to see it and tell that way (but I wouldn't count on it).

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It's only on windows, so NTFS. – PrettyFormat Oct 9 '10 at 20:01
I kinda knew that for a CD/DVD it might of been unrealistical since it needs to alter the data somehow, but what about RW CD/DVD's ? – PrettyFormat Oct 9 '10 at 20:02
If the R/W media is "formatted" to behave like a floppy or USB drive such that it can be written to at random, then the same answer applies as with a USB. Maybe. My own testing with a USB drive formatted as NTFS, Date Accessed seems to mirror Date Created and opening a text file with a program such as Notepad has no effect. – BillP3rd Oct 9 '10 at 20:11
@PrettyFormat - I'm fairly sure even RW CD/DVDs don't have the last access time of files updated. – ChrisF Oct 9 '10 at 20:11
I see. Definitely interested nonetheless so if something pops up.. share :) – PrettyFormat Oct 9 '10 at 20:15

If you are interested in "protecting" a particular disc, you might be able to exploit AutoRun, so that it runs a small program that attempts to "phone home" whenever the disc is inserted. Sort of like a low-rent virus, it would require the reader's machine to have a live internet connection (or to the office network, if that's where home is), which most do nowadays.

There are plenty of ways around this, even without the curious party doing anything in particular or on purpose. And it doesn't monitor individual file access; that would require something more sophisticated.

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