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Is Windows Auto-run or Autoplay Dangerous?

Auto-run is the bain of IT System Admins and a hacker's dream...

Is Windows Autorun or Autoplay feature a source of your virus infection?

According to eSecurity Planet the USB pen/flash drive is the source of over 700,000+ virus infections.

They say that 1 in 8 infections come from infected USB drives. Ok, I'll agree to that, and that is the reason I disable autoplay on all the computers I own or have contact with.

I also do not use just any pen/flash drive, only my own. Nor do I let anyone plug theirs in to my computer. My anti virus is set to scan any drive plugged in to the USB ports automatically. (Check the options of your anti virus program, if it doesn't have the option to scan removable media find one that does!)

Then disable the autorun or autoplay on your computer(s).

To disable the autorun feature/option you have to edit the Group Policy, it is in two places:

  • Under the Computer Configuration, the System category, right window "Turn off auto-run"
  • Under User Configuration, the Administrative Templates, then System category, right window "Turn off auto-run"

Note: You should know what you are doing before you attempt to turn off any Group Policy (GP), if in doubt or you don't understand the process then contact a company that is reputable and knows what changing a GP can do to an Operating System. On this web site there are numerous pages that have instructions and Warnings about editing a GP. This page will tell you more about editing a GP.

This will keep any virus on a pen/flash/cd/dvd media from activating when the media is accessed.

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If you have your AV set to scan those devices then you will be notified when it finds a virus. Keep in mind that a cd/dvd can not be cleaned if it is infected because it is a read only type media, to keep the virus from spreading I suggest you destroy the media, that could get painful if you need the data so copy the data to a place where it can be cleaned first.

Ok, why turn of Autorun?

If you are away from your computer a thief could have a batch file on say a pen drive, all the thief has to do is plug in the pen drive, the batch file called "autorun.bat" or "autorun.inf" will execute automatically. The batch file could possible contain a virus or a small program to search your computer for files with certain types of data, such as Quicken, the saved file for quicken is the easiest and fastest way to get to all your financial data.

Turning off Autorun or Autoplay is a "Best Practice" by corporations and Big Business and if they do it so should you, the more diligent we are the harder we make it for the thieves to steal our data/money!

Remember: If you don't protect your ID and data, it won't be yours for long.

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Auto-run or Autoplay do spread viruses, better safe than sorry, do with out a small convince.

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