Study: Almost Half of Dropped USB Sticks will get Plugged in (Naked Security)


People are still plugging in USB sticks scattered around parking lots, a new study has confirmed.

This time, the researchers hail from the University of Illinois. They decided to test what they call the “anecdotal belief” that people pick these things up and plug them in, so they dropped 297 drives on the school’s Urbana-Champaign campus last year.

Sure enough, they found that if there were real malware on these drives, it would have been successful at infecting those users who plug them in. The success rate fell between 45% and 98%, as they describe in a paper titled “Users Really Do Plug in USB Drives They Find“.

They also found that a USB drive-inflicted infection would take root very quickly: the first drive phoned home to the researchers in less than 6 minutes after it was placed.