Security Concerns Skyrocket Around New Self-activating U3 Applications

By | September 6, 2006

Centennial Software, a developer of IT security and asset management solutions, has seen the demand for security information associated with USB threats rise dramatically since the arrival of new U3 applications to the marketplace.

Following a post on security vendor´s corporate blog sit which exposed the threats surrounding the latest self-activating U3 technology, the number of visitors rose by more than 1000 percent in a single day, and references in the blogosphere has sent the Centennial-based URL to number one on link-sharing site

U3 is a self-activating technology that enables portable devices (flash drives, iPods, PDAs, etc.) to autorun applications the moment they are plugged into a PC. This drastically raises the level of risk associated with these devices on a corporate network. Some programs cited for use with U3 include password-cracking technologies and a podslurping tool that allows users to copy thousands of files in a matter of seconds.

“Since the U3 information was posted online, we´ve seen a dramatic increase in demand for information around the associated security threats,” said Brian McCarthy, VP of US Marketing at Centennial. “The public´s interest in this issue has been fascinating – and validates that there´s a need for this type of information to be easily accessible to the public.”

Top USB hacks, as reported by Centennial Software:

1. Slurp: a podslurping application that can copy vast amounts of company files in seconds

2. John the Ripper: detects and cracks weak passwords

3. Nmap: can explore an entire network and identify vulnerabilities or security technology

4. Ethereal: allows the user to see all traffic passing over a network – originally used for troubleshooting

5. Showtraf: continuously monitors and displays network traffic

6. TCPDump: enables the user to display and intercept TCP/IP addresses travelling across a network

7. Nemisis: intentionally to test intrusion detection systems, can enable the bypassing of security measures

8. Netpass: recovers passwords on various guarded areas of the network

“These hacking applications represent every CSO´s worst nightmare,” added Matt Fisher, Vice President at Centennial. “Worryingly, many organizations are yet to put in place even basic measures to address the removable media threat: recent research has found that as many as three quarters of professionals don´t rate such devices as a top threat to their company network. A major security black-hole is failing to be addressed and we believe that making people aware of what´s out there can help to correct this.”

In light of this, Centennial has provided a simplified overview of how the technology, originally designed to help close down security loopholes, is being harnessed for more sinister uses, available on The company is continuously updating the ´threat list´ as and when new ones come to light.

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