Take control of USB storage devices with Phrozen Safe USB

January 15, 2013 – 13:00 by in Tips Print Share No Comment

There’s no doubt that USB keys are compact, portable, and a very convenient way to transfer files and documents.

Unfortunately, they’re almost as good as transferring malware, and allowing snoopers to steal information, which is why you might want to control them with a copy of Phrozen Safe USB.

After a simple installation and a reboot, launching the program will add an icon to your system tray. By default this will leave USB devices working just as they did, but right-click the icon and you can choose a couple of alternative settings: “USB Mode Read Only” (drives show up in Explorer, but you can’t write to them), and “USB Mode Disabled” (USB storage devices no longer appear in Explorer at all).

The program's interface is very simple - just choose the USB setting you need from the listThese changes won’t work immediately, unfortunately. If you already have a drive connected, for instance, choosing “Disable” won’t remove it; you’ll have to unplug it yourself.

When you connect a drive after changing the Phrozen Safe Setting, though, the new policy will apply. So if you’ve selected “USB Mode Read Only”, then Explorer will display an error message if you try to copy files there, making it more difficult for attackers to grab data from your PC. And if you choose “USB Mode Disabled” then any USB storage devices won’t show up at all.

There is one very obvious weakness here, in that Phrozen Safe USB doesn’t have any password protection. So if, say, you’re hoping to use the program to prevent family members connecting any old USB drive to your system, there’s nothing whatsoever to stop them from manually disabling its protection and doing whatever they want.

To be fair, not everyone is technical enough to do this, or will be able to take the time to play around on the computer. And if you simply want a basic extra layer of protection against rogue USB usage, then Phrozen Safe USB should prove a simple and lightweight solution (it uses just under 3MB RAM on our test PC).

Password protection would make a real difference, though. And as multiple other users have suggested the same thing to the author, hopefully they’ll be adding it soon.


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