Plug the USG into your port before you plug in that new USB flash drive

usg protects against usb based malware usage diagram header
Robert Fisk
A number of nasty methods exist to remotely exploit a device, for example, a router that is connected to the internet. There are even more ways to exploit a PC if the cybercriminal has physical access to it. But the most embarrassing, perhaps, is when you infect your own PC by plugging in a malware-infested USB flash drive.

That is probably not terribly fair — anyone can be tricked into plugging in such devices, given that they are designed to look just like any other flash drive. And there is little you can do to protect yourself against them, which is something a new hardware firewall called USG is intended to help prevent, Hackaday reports.

The reason malware-infected USB flash drives are so dangerous is that devices using attacks like BadUSB inject their malicious code directly into the USB driver software that enables a PC to connect to a USB device. The code is executed by the USB device’s own microprocessor, meaning there is no virus file being accessed on the PC that antivirus software can recognize and protect against.

usg protects against usb based malware

The USG device created by engineer Robert Fisk sits in between the PC’s USB port and any device that is going to be plugged in, inserting an SPI hardware firewall to isolate any bad USB device. Because the firmware of the USG device is completely open, anyone with the technical know-how can dig into it and verify that it can be trusted — something that’s just not possible with the typical USB flash drive.

According to some sources, even factory-fresh USB flash drives can’t be assumed free of malware, backdoors, and other nefarious purposes, and so a device like the USG could one day be more than just a luxury of the paranoid. Fisk provides details on how to build your own USG device, along with information on how and why it works. He also sells a version that is more professional in appearance for $60, in case you don’t have the time or technical inclination to build your own.

Updated on 3-6-2017 by Mark Coppock: Clarified that the USG is an SPI hardware firewall and updated pricing information.

Gaming

Goodbye, Machinima: YouTube gaming channel pulls the plug after 13 years

Machinima, a YouTube gaming channel that was launched in 2006, has suddenly shut down, with all of its videos set to private. The #RIPMachinima hashtag is now making the rounds in social media to reminisce about the channel's content.
Gaming

How you can give your PS4 a fresh start with a factory reset

Learn the many ways you can factory reset your PS4. From reverting your settings to factory to doing a full wipe and reinstalling the latest PlayStation firmware, we cover it all here, step by step.
Computing

Fix those internet dead zones by turning an old router into a Wi-Fi repeater

Is there a Wi-Fi dead zone in your home or office? A Wi-Fi repeater can help. Don't buy a new one, though. Here is how to extend Wi-Fi range with another router you have lying around.
Mobile

Turn to these apps to help you in your next hunt for a job

Looking for a job can be a stressful experience, but these days, a simple mobile app can help you to find and apply for jobs all over the country -- here are some of the best job search apps for iOS and Android.
Computing

Yes, you can use Android apps on your Chromebook. Here's how

You can now get Android apps on your Chromebook! Google has enabled the Google Play Store app support on its Chrome OS and Chromebook hardware, so to get you started, here's our guide on how to get Android apps on a Chromebook.
Computing

AMD’s Graphics Core Next successor could give a big boost to parallel computing

A published patent application from AMD has revealed a new type of graphics processor core which could make a big difference to the capabilities of its GPUs if it finds its way into them in the future.
Product Review

The Digital Storm Aventum X is an unstoppable gaming PC. Trust us, we tried

Packed with dual-Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti graphics card and a 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processor, the Aventum X is an infinitely upgradeable gaming PC that’s capable of far more performance than you’ll ever need.
Computing

Microsoft targets Chrome OS with $189 Windows 10 laptops for education

Microsoft announced seven new low-cost Windows 10 laptops, all priced under $300 to take on Chromebooks and iPads in the education market, along with a new Microsoft Allora stylus for students using the Surface Go tablet.
Computing

Lenovo patent hints at a future tablet with a folding screen

Folding devices are a new trend, and according to a recent patent, Lenovo is considering a foldable 2-in-1 with a hinge mechanism that would allow consumers to bend back the screen on the device. 
Computing

Wifi Porter is a high-tech block of wood that lets you share your broadband

Tired of manually connecting your guests to your home Wi-Fi network? The latest invention from the folks at Ten One Design, the WifiPorter, allow individuals to connect to your Wi-Fi with the tap of their phone, or by scanning an available…
Computing

Midrange Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti graphics card may be 20 percent faster than GTX 1060

In the freshest development in graphics card rumors, alleged benchmarks are showing that the GTX 1660 Ti graphics card could be as much as 20 percent faster when compared to the older GTX 1060. 
Computing

Work and play anywhere with these portable, large-screen monitors

Via a recent and successful Kickstarter campaign by Unick, a new line of portable, large-screen monitors has been announced. The Gemini Taihe line of monitors offers two models: the Gemini FHD and the Gemini UHD.
Computing

It took Dell years to fix 1 problem on its best laptop. Here’s how they did it

The new Dell XPS 13 moves the webcam from the below the screen to the top, finally vanquishing the one obstacle facing thin, sleek laptop displays. We have the exclusive story on how it was done.
Computing

Breeze through security with these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags

Getting through airport security is a drag, but your laptop bag shouldn’t be. Thankfully, these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags will get you and your gear to your destination with ease.