Microsoft improves AutoPlay to combat USB malware

Graham Cluley

Here’s some good news.

Microsoft has revealed on one of its blogs that the next version of Windows will change the way in which the operating system handles USB flash drives to fight the growing problem of AutoRun malware.

Malware like the Conficker worm can spread via USB memory sticks, taking advantage of the AutoRun facility to execute on computers. In this following example, taken from the Microsoft blog, a malicious program (circled in red) is pretending to be the safe option (circled in green) of viewing and opening files.

The good news is that Windows 7 will no longer display the AutoRun task in the AutoPlay dialog for devices that are not CDs or DVDs. In other words, you won’t be able to accidentally choose the wrong option and fall into the virus writer’s trap.

Which means, that when you insert a USB thumb drive you’ll see a…

Read more in my article on the Naked Security website.

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.