It is best practice for an organization to control USB/Endpoint devices being used within the organizational boundaries. This is to ensure that company information is not loosely handled and that an organization is compliant with any legislation and regulations. USBs are prevalent in the office and employees can simply use their device to transfer company files to it.
Employees can be negligent and lose the device with company information in it, which can become dangerous for the organization if taken by the wrong hands. Overall USB devices pose a real security threat to a company.
There are two ways an organization can disable USB devices – using group policy with a domain controller or by using endpoint protection software. That latter is a more favorable solution due to some disadvantages of Group Policy Objects.
In this article, we will discuss how to use Group Policy Objects to disable USB and its disadvantages, as well as an alternative solution using endpoint protection software.
Create a group policy object to store the policy you wish to impose in your domain.
Although applying group policies is a useful way to control the usage of USB storage devices in an organization, there are disadvantages that should not go unnoticed. Here are some of the pitfalls to using GPOs you want to consider before depending on it for data security in your organization.
The Group Policy Object editor can be very complexed from a user interface perspective. Navigating and understanding all the functionalities of the editor is not quite intuitive. From an organizational standpoint, the knowledge and expertise to administer and modify USB restriction policies in your network might not be readily available. Additionally, applying different USB restrictions to different departments and users in your organization can get complicated and difficult to track such changes.
Group Policy Objects have mandatory updates that occur between every 1 to 2 hours or when a PC is rebooted. You can modify the periodic updates from every 0 minutes to 45 days. If you adjust the GPOs to have these updates occur every second, all the computers within your network will attempt to update the GPO every 7 seconds. This will affect your network with an abundance of traffic which could hinder network performance.
Group Policy Object editor can be maliciously modified by an attacker if there is an infected and infiltrated computer within your network. Once an attacker has infiltrated your network, they might try to thwart security by changing local group policy objects on the infiltrated computer. One example is taking over a locked local Administrator account on an infected computer by modifying the Group Policy Object. An attack can also enable less secure and vulnerable network protocols with Group Policy Object, allowing other users to access their USB devices.
Although Group Policy Objects is a readily available solution to block USB connections and prevent data loss in your organization, it is not the most intuitive and effective method.
AccessPatrol is an endpoint protection software that is a more reliable solution for data loss prevention than Group Policy Objects. Considering the number of data breaches that have occurred in the U.S alone (1,244 in 2018), many organizations both public and private, small and big have invested in endpoint protection software such as AccessPatrol.
As mentioned above, Group Policy Objects have many disadvantages that make endpoint protection software such as AccessPatrol more favorable than Group Policy Objects when it comes to USB blocking and data protection.
Navigating through AccessPatrol and applying device restrictions on computers in your network is very simple. You can easily apply different restrictions on a computer-basis or user-basis, allowing you to have different departments with different levels of access to USB devices.
Minimal technical expertise is required to implement this software and apply restriction policies within your organization. There is also a technical support team that can assist with any issues or inquiries on the software.
Updating your levels of access on USB and other endpoint devices within your organization using AccessPatrol occurs instantaneously. This becomes quite useful in cases where exceptions are needed and need to be made immediately. Unlike Group Policy Objects, you do not have to wait for updates to occur and do not have to worry about network traffic.
AccessPatrol is a secure solution that uses an agent that is installed in computers within your organization. This agent applies the endpoint device restriction policies to the computers in your network.
This agent is securely placed in whatever computer it is installed in and it is difficult to remove from an end-user standpoint. When a computer has been infiltrated and/or infected with a virus, even then removing the agent from a computer is no easy task.
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