With the release of Windows XP SP2, you can now secure those USB Flash Memory devices.
When the USB devices first hit the scene, there were a lot of people (primarily those in the security field) who were ready to cast voodoo spells on the devices. Why?
The Flash Memory devices were another chink in the security armor. Users could insert the devices into their USB port, and take company data with them or inadvertently upload viruses they brought from home. Even though the devices have become popular over the last year or so (I simply can't live without one), there still wasn't a way of making sure they were not a security risk.
Windows XP SP2 enables users to make these devices Read-only by adding a specific registry value. Under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\
Control\StorageDevicePolicies, there's now a value called WriteProtect.
If the data value is set to 0 (zero), write-protect is disabled. If the data value is set to 1 (one), then write-protect is enabled, effectively making the USB Flash Memory device Read Only.
So, to make it simple:
Value Name (DWORD): WriteProtect
Data Value: 0 = disable, 1 = enable
You can script this with your favorite script editor and use your favorite distribution tool to send it to everyone in the company. Of course, I would recommend SMS 2003, but GPO or a Login Script would do it, too.
Restoring Default Security Settings in Windows XP
Key Security Review Components
Security FAQ: Vulnerability Types
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rod Trent, manager of myITforum.com and Microsoft MVP is a leading expert on Microsoft Systems Management Server. He has more than 18 years of IT experience -- eight of which have been dedicated to SMS. He is the author of such books as Microsoft SMS Installer, Admin911:SMS, and IIS 5.0: A Beginner's Guide, and has written literally thousands of articles on technology topics.
This article first appeared in myITforum, the premier online destination for IT professionals responsible for managing their corporations' Microsoft Windows systems. The centerpiece of myITforum.com is a collection of member forums where IT professionals actively exchange technical tips, share their expertise, and download utilities that help them better manage their Windows environments, specifically Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS). It is part of the TechTarget network of Web sites. To register for the site and sign up for the myITforum daily newsletter, click here.
This was first published in October 2004