Over the past few weeks you might have heard about that terrible new USB Virus (known as BadUSB) which can be exploited by hackers and completely take over your PC, keeping in mind how important USB devices are for us in our daily lives, it is essential we find a way to protect our selfs against this malware.
USB storage devices are being used less frequently as cloud storage starts to take over and the BadUSB virus could be the last little push it needed before we completely stopped using USB storage devices. Reports about the malware were first made by Wired. Security researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell have reverse engineered the software process which USB’s use for basic communication, they found a way to reprogram it so it can hide attack code.
“You can give it to your IT security people, they scan it, delete some files, and give it back to you telling you it’s ‘clean… these problems can’t be patched. We’re exploiting the very way that USB is designed.”
According to Nohl and Lell there are many more devices that aren’t simple USB’s that are exposed to the vulnerability. As demonstrated at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas the flaw can be exploited on thumb drives, mice, keyboards and even a Android smartphones. According to some sources the NSA could already be making use of this exploit as essentially any device that makes use of USB and which firmware can be upgraded is vulnerable to this malware.
Well both of these questions are hard to answer because there is no real answer to them. As far as preventing to get infected security researchers recommend you do not give or lend your device to strangers and be very careful where you plug your device in, other then this there is little you can do. As far as how to know if your device is infected with BadUSB, there is currently no way of knowing if your device is.
Like mentioned previously, getting a fix for this malware is incredible hard as the communication process of how USB work will have to be rewritten but there is a “partial” fix. A patch has been released on GitHub that disables “Boot Mode” which is the state the device has to be in to be reprogrammed, keep in mind that this only works on newer versions of USB 3.0 firmware distributed by the Taiwanese firm Phison.