Cyber Security Month Tech Tip #4

Welcome again Digital Citizens. October is recognized on the Internet as Cyber Security Awareness Month (#cybersecuritymonth). During this month different people and organizations online will post tips throughout the month of October to help people improve their understanding of cyber security. Lots of people use computers today. Unfortunately, a large percentage of Internet users are not a familiar with how to protect their identities and data online. So Cyber Security Awareness Month was created to try to expose as many people to online best practices as possible.

Do You Know Where That Thumb Drive Has Been???

Back in the days of CRT monitors and 9600 baud modems the world of computers were ruled by the floppy disk. This magical media type allowed people to transfer data over long distances (i.e. your friends house or co-worker's cubical) to your own computer system. Computer internetworking was something you saw in science fiction movies or that you heard rumors about from computer hackers that break into government systems and have to run from the law for the rest of their lives. So normal people used floppy disks to install and share data.

Floppy Disks

Floppy Disk Sizes What the world quickly discovered during the age of the floppy drive is just how connected we all are. While I may have a personal computer and only know three people who I can share disks with, those three people could know three each. And so on and so forth. On top of which a couple of those people within two or three degrees of separation may actually have access to a modem that they use to download files on bulletin board systems from Los Angeles to Berlin. To put it short it was not uncommon for computer virus outbreaks to pop up all over the world in no time at all because of data hopping from floppy disk to computer system to new floppy disk. The age of floppy disks, zip drives, and even CD-ROMs are to most digital citizens a legend seen in museums. There is however a form of physical media that most of use still are familiar with. The Thumb drive.

Thumbs drive are easy to pass around and share. So they end up in multiple computer systems. This makes them as dangerous as floppy drives use to be back in the day. So when a thumb drive is connected to a computer system you do not control you have to hope they are up-to-date on all their system patches and that their virus protection is current. That doesn't seem like a big ask but you would be surprised at how many people treat their computers like storage in their garage. They get to cleaning it when they get to it. Worse yet, it is not uncommon for bad actors (i.e. hackers, identity thieves, phishers) to put malware such as keyloggers, scripts, and rootkits on thumb drives and lay them around so people will find them and use them on their home or work computers. That is a big NO NO!

It is easy to forget that physical computer security is as much a part of cyber security as protecting your digital security and identity. So remember to keep these tips in mind:

And most importantly:

These tips won't keep you 100% safe, but they will help you avoid 90% of obvious pitfalls and traps. Have a safe October and remember to feel free to pass on and share any tips you have all month long to help people think about Cyber Security #cybersecuritymonth.


  1. Cyber Security Tip #1
  2. Previous Tip
  3. Homeland Security Tips For Using Caution With USB Thumb Drives