Home Security Kiwi creates firewall to guard against USB attacks

Kiwi creates firewall to guard against USB attacks

A New Zealand programmer has developed a device that acts as a firewall for USB flash drives, preventing any exploits on such drives from running and destroying or in other ways compromising data on a PC.

The USG, as it is called, sits between the USB drive and the PC. Its creator Robert Fisk said it helped to protect a computer from attacks like BadUSB where USB devices can be re-programmed to run malicious code from the drive itself.

Fisk said anti-virus scanners could not detect attacks like BadUSB because there as no virus to detect.

"Malicious USB commands reach directly into your USB driver stack, exploiting your computer before file-based scanners realise anything happened," he said.

But there are two negatives to the USG firewall: it permits data transfer only at very slow speeds and it cannot stop the transfer of malicious code, like a malware executable, into a PC because that bit of code is also just a blob.

usg big

"Version 1 of the USG uses 12Mbps hardware, so your mass storage transfers will run at around 1MByte per second," Fisk said.

Fisk has developed the code for USG and says people can build their own if they are so inclined.

"As the primary (currently the only!) developer of the USG, my reputation hinges on the integrity of this project. This includes the integrity of the hardware I am offering for sale," he said.

"This is why I will never outsource the manufacture of USG hardware to another country. The USG is assembled in New Zealand under my direct supervision, and the firmware is programmed from a secure device by yours truly."


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.