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Will disabling thumb drives affect keyboard and mouse functions?

Shutting down USB drives altogether may be a wise decision for your enterprise, but what does that mean for systems that rely exclusively on USB for the keyboard and mouse? Security threat expert Ed Skoudis explains.

How do you disable the use of thumb drives on newer desktop computers that only have USB connections for the keyboard and mouse? I read your recent response concerning USB threats to organizations, and the solutions in your original response would appear to disable these input devices and prevent use of the computer.
That's a really good question. This is a major bummer for organizations who would like to shut down USB devices altogether, but are stuck with systems that rely exclusively on USB for keyboard and mouse. So, what to do?

The good news here is that Microsoft uses a separate set of drivers for USB keyboard and mouse devices than it does for USB storage drives. Thus, you can use Group Policy to disallow storage drivers from being loaded, while still enabling keyboard and mouse use. There is a wonderful article on how to disable USB devices by Hannes Schmidt.

More information:

  • Read Ed's previous response: Do USB memory sticks pose enterprise threats?
  • Are the contents of your USB token being copied to a hidden directory called "iedw." If so, Ed explains what you should do next.
  • This was last published in April 2007

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