Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
If there is malware on the flash drive, it could very well be in the files from that drive that you are copying to your computer.
Hi. I work at a public school and was told that today my computer has a virus. I don't know how this came to be. Could my flash drive have created this virus? I'm constantly inserting and ejecting my flash drive from one computer into another. Can a flash drive transfer viruses? It makes me feel as if I've done something really bad.
First, getting a virus doesn't neccessarily mean you've done anything really bad. It happens to people all the time.
Flash drives can transfer viruses. From the situation you're describing, yes, you might have passed one on to a computer that you're using.
Viruses can be written such that they will use flash drives to transfer themselves to other computers. It's actually a very common mechanism for some forms of malware to infect other machines. It's important to realize that and to understand that when you transfer a flash drive from one machine to another, you may very well be carrying malware with you.
To avoid this kind of thing in the future, I would suggest that you do two things.
The first thing to do is make sure that any machine that you plug your flash drive into has:
Up-to-date anti-malware software
Access to the software's latest database of known threats
Settings for periodic scans. The machine should also be running these scans regularly.
That's important to basically detect and catch any malware that may actually be on those machines.
The other thing is to turn off autoplay on all of your machines. Autoplay or autorun is that thing that automatically detects that you've inserted a flash drive or a CD or a DVD and automatically runs a program to do something with the device you've just installed.
Malware writers have been able to take advantage of that.
They set the flash drives up so that when they are inserted, auto run kicks in and automatically runs the malicious software that's on the flash drive. And that malicious software then obviously infects the machine.
Sure, turning off autoplay, autorun, or any auto features may make things a little bit more inconvenient. You actually have to manually start playing your CDs or manually start playing your DVDs.
But the good news is then that you don't have to worry about flash drives automatically infecting you.
Flash drives can still carry malware. It's still a possibility. In fact, if there's malware on the flash drive, it could very well be in the files that you've carried in the files that you yourself are copying. This is a start. This is an important aspect of making sure that your flash drives and your computers in general are safe.
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