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Windows Vista locks out USB

Microsoft Vista adds another level of security targeted at limiting USB connectivity. The new feature will drive end-users mad and seems more like a tool to keep the honest people honest – after all, if a hacker wants to hack, they’ll hack. The Vista utility gives an IT department complete control over what and who plugs into their computers via USB. Not a bad idea as identity theft is on the rise and a 4GB flash drive could grab tens of thousands of customer’s personal information. Since data theft and virus/trojan infected flash media is a huge concern for corporate customers, Microsoft is expected to make a big splash with this feature.

And in true Microsoft fashion their utility, pre-loaded on the OS, will surely hurt some 3rd party utilities already available (sorry M-Systems) but having the USB limit feature existing in the Windows Group Policy system makes it easy to manage on a network wide level. Here is how the system can limit the USB connection:

  • Only install pre approved devices
  • Prevent users from installing all together
  • Control the read and write functions on the system

Since the Group Policy is the tool for control you can create filters based off group memberships with in Vista. Overall this is a great feature to eliminate 99% of the potential problems, but as with anything a hacker will hack and it’s just a matter of time.

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