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I received a USB stick from an acquaintance. At least it looks like a USB stick. What preparation should I do before plugging it on my PC?

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"It looks like a USB stick" - if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, its a duck. If it weighs the same as a duck, its either a duck, or a witch. What else do you suspect it is? – Journeyman Geek May 5 '13 at 5:07
@JourneymanGeek maybe something like this? – Endy Tjahjono May 5 '13 at 6:19
Ironic choice of words on my part then ;p – Journeyman Geek May 5 '13 at 6:25
up vote 5 down vote accepted

You could boot your computer to a LiveCD of some flavor of Linux, and then connect the USB stick. Any potential infections would most likely NOT infect your system. A further step would be to disconnect your hard drive first, THEN boot to the LiveCD. Disconnecting the drive first would guarantee that any potential infections would not reach your sensitive OS installation. If there was something on the USB stick, and it could infect the version of Linux you booted to, then just turning off the computer would remove the temporary OS from Ram and you would be clear.

This might sound overly paranoid, but if you really are worried, and you aren't necessarily confident that your AV suite can handle any potential infections that might be on the stick, this method only takes a few minutes to prep... and no installation whatsoever.

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That's the way to go. Choose a distribution which offers ClamAv by default like Parted Magic so you can scan the pendrive, and you could consider this the best security solution ever. – Sekhemty May 5 '13 at 4:22
I'm a big fan of Parted Magic as well. For multiple reasons, other than this specific use. Great tool and should be in everyone's disc collection. – Bon Gart May 5 '13 at 4:29

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