Data alone is helpless; some would say worthless. Facts and figures take on meaning only when given context and shared. The distance between data and information is vast, and data must be organized, structured, processed, and interpreted before it becomes useful at all.

It might be said that data is defenseless, too, because so many of today’s information systems and data networks are unprotected on the physical plane.

Protected online by cybersecurity programs and software, too many systems leave the physical points of entry unguarded – the ports and connectors that make a workplace and a network. Two factors we might contribute here are a needed reminder of the most widely used common connection that makes data networks and interaction possible, and how the application of simple USB port blocker hardware with keys can secure this vital interaction.

The Ubiquitous USB

All around us, largely out of sight and out of mind, USB ports and connectors are making the digital age possible. Yes, we’re fully conscious of their use as the access points for flash drives, because we interact with those devices in conscious, choice-driven ways on occasions that arise in our work. However, beyond every decision to save or share files or information with these convenient tools, there is a host of essential devices using a USB port as their ongoing connection to your computing power. What good would your desktop computer be without a screen on which to view your input and output? Chances are that this screen is connected via a USB port.

The screens on which we visualize our tasks are barely the beginning. USB ports often connect devices and peripherals as various as printers and plotters; the keyboard, mouse, trackball or touchpad; docking stations; external modems; and digital cameras. These “unconscious” connections have something vitally important in common with the USB port we use with our flash drives: they are entry points for disaster when they are left unprotected.

Threat of Access

While the current COVID-19 pandemic has put the world’s attention on a human virus, the threat of computer viruses remains real. In fact, the Identify Theft Resource Center reported that, in February 2020, a total of 93 data breaches exposed 1,272,282 sensitive records and 120,865,640 non-sensitive records.

The business sector experienced the highest number of data breaches and the highest number of non-sensitive records exposed while the medical/healthcare sector experienced the second-highest number of data breaches and the highest number of sensitive records exposed.

How many breaches were a result of unprotected USB ports is not reported, but it is safe to assume that those vulnerable ports played a role. Are your USB ports protected? Odds are, they’re not. With so many people working from home right now, perhaps it’s time to guard against computer infections by locking those ports with simple, easy-to-deploy USB port locks.