Portable hard drives, USB flash drives, memory cards and other types of removable media are vital for the quick storage and transportation of data. For many businesses, removable media can be used as backup storage for critical digital files or even free up additional storage space for work computers.
While removable media is easy to use and has many business applications, it isn’t without its share of risks. The following are some considerations to keep in mind when using removable media at your organization:
- Data security—Because removable media devices are typically small and easy to transport, they can easily be lost or stolen. In fact, every time you allow an employee to use a USB flash drive or other small storage device, your organization’s critical or sensitive information could fall into the wrong hands. What’s more, even if you encrypt your removable storage devices, you will not be able to recover lost files once the USB flash drive or other device is lost.
- Malware—Simply put, when employees use removable media devices, they can unknowingly spread malware between devices. This is because malicious software can easily be installed on USB flash drives and other storage devices. In addition, it just takes one infected device to infiltrate your company’s entire network.
- Media failure—Despite its low cost and convenience, removable media is inherently risky. This is because many devices have short life spans and can fail without warning. As such, if a device fails and your organization doesn’t have the files backed up, you could lose key files and data.
Thankfully, there are ways to mitigate risks associated with removable media. To use these devices effectively while maintaining data security, consider doing the following:
- Develop a policy for related to removable media use.
- Install anti-virus software that scans removable media devices.
- Ensure all removable media devices are encrypted. Passwords to these devices should never be shared.
- Instruct employees to never use unapproved removable media in a computer.
- Have employees keep personal and business data separate.
- Establish a process for wiping all portable media devices when they are no longer needed.