Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

So the company I work for are quite strict regarding software security. We're not allowed to use usb devices on pc's that are connected to the production network. There's some Department of Defense script that runs periodically. If a usb device happens to be connected to a pc when this script is running it supposedly kills the flash drive.

In my mind at worst it kills the file system in which case a quick run of FDISK should be able to sort this out.

However I'm told that the device is completely irrecoverable.

1) Is this true? Are there scripts that do this and how does it work

2) If it does do this, is there a way to recover the device?

share
1  
my 2¢ is that i don't believe it would be possible to completely ruin the drive. as you said likely all it does it remove the file system, probably by performing a DOD level wipe of the drive. however, i do not know for sure. i suppose if the computer system was some custom setup it might be possible to send a surge through the USB port destroying the circuits in the device. –  Xantec Dec 1 '10 at 14:41

2 Answers 2

No, it is not true. You have to understand in the corporate world (and the military) there tend to be a lot of tribal stories made up to scare people about things that are not really true. These tribal beliefs can extend up and down the chain of command. For example, one place I worked for I kept being told the policy was to "never ever install anything anywhere for any reason... you could get fired." This was even though I read the black and white policy which said not to install pay for or trial software. Why would they make the distinction if the supposed rule is "never ever?" Tribal beliefs are near impossible to change.

There would need to be special hardware on the usb ports of the computers in order to "kill" attached devices. The only thing that I could think of to actually do this would be some sort of high voltage spike to destroy the physical components of the flash drive and something like that is too inspector gadgetish for me to believe. Even if they did install something like that I would think they'd run the risk of injuring their employees with the fireworks that could potentially result. Really, you have to be able to ignore a lot of garbage people tell you, or at least remember to "trust, but verify."

The only thing it could do would be to wipe as Xantac guessed, and I think even that is highly unlikely. Users with knowledge could easily stop such a script.

share

I have been working I.T. for the Army and Department of Defense for the past several years. Based off my experience, both as a soldier and civilian, I will warned that there is a good for the now partially-lifted ban. I just wouldn't try it. (Hint Hint)

To be completely honest you shouldn't be posting a question such as this one on a public and open forum. Please think about what you are about to do before you do it. Think OPSEC at all time! Meaning think about it while both deployed or not deployed.

share
1  
I agree that OPSEC is important, so I won't down-vote for "Don't ask questions". How are misconceptions, misinformation, bad information, etc supposed to get fixed if you don't ask questions? Some idiot says "don't use USB or we all will die" and everyone just follows... except for those that realize it's a smoke screen. Next thing you know, johnny bad guy is using a USB (Or, as in the case of Wikileaks, burns stuff to a CD) because no one thought to put further measures against something so obviously blatantly impossible. Asking questions doesn't necessarily equal "loose lips sink ships". –  WernerCD Dec 1 '10 at 21:20
    
Point of my answer, don't ask questions like this on an open forum. We are not talking just about company -- in the scene the Army as a whole. We are also talking about soldier's lifes. Not just American, soldiers. You have taken account of all the NATO soldiers that work along side th Americans and vice visa. –  SgtOJ Dec 2 '10 at 0:19
    
... The government didn't banned the USB drives because they thought someone would download files/secrets on to it leak. But instead because are the potential of letting a trojan horse or worm on the the network that steals secret information. Which infact is what happen to cause this ban to come about. The bottom line is OPSEC more important than finding out it is all smoke. That is because if, a big if, it isn't true and everyone knew it then we are back at square-one. Which basically means, that you are no more safer than before the banned. –  SgtOJ Dec 2 '10 at 0:34
    
@Brian: Your attitude is very bad for security. Anyone who intends to breach security will try plugging a USB drive and see what happens. Not asking the question only means that well-meaning insiders won't know whether they are correctly applying security policies. In other words, you're helping the bad guys by hindering the good guys. –  Gilles Dec 2 '10 at 2:26
    
@Gilles - I would have agree with you about the security issue. However, I still feel like it shouldn't be post on public and/or open forum. Also, just to make it clear. I do see it highly unlikely there is a way to destroy the drive completely. That is not to say they dont't have other protocols for security reasons. –  SgtOJ Dec 2 '10 at 3:26

This site is currently not accepting new answers.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .