How to Disable USB Ports & Block USB Mass Storage Devices

A 32 gigabyte USB flash drive sitting on top of a computer keyboard

Want to control the use of unauthorized USB devices in your network? In this guide I will show you how to disable USB ports with three different methods: Using dedicated device control software to disable USB ports, Windows Device Manager, and Group Policies through Active Directory. 

With these methods you’ll be able to disable USB ports in Windows 10, Windows 7, and other Windows operating systems.

AccessPatrol is a device control software solution that protects sensitive data against theft to portable storage devices.

AccessPatrol keeps data secure by…

  • Preventing users from stealing data or transferring malicious files with easily concealed USB flash drives
  • Maintaining auditable records of file transfers to portable storage devices, and…
  • Triggering real-time alerts when security policies are violated

AccessPatrol’s central console allows you to apply security policies and run reports on your user’s USB activities from the convenience of a web browser. 

The security policies are enforced by a software agent that is installed on your user’s computers. This keeps devices restricted and monitored even when the computers are taken off of the network.

Here’s an overview of AccessPatrol’s key features.

Under Device Permissions you can assign unique device control policies for specific groups of computers or users. 

AccessPatrol controls a variety of peripherals, including…

  • Storage devices such as USB flash drives and external hard drives
  • Wireless Devices such as Bluetooth, Infrared, and WiFi
  • Communication Ports such as Serial and Parallel ports
  • Imaging Devices such as Scanners or Cameras, and…
  • Other Devices such as network share drives, printers, and mobile phones

Under the allowed list you can specify trusted devices that can be used on your computers.

If you need to temporarily lift device restrictions for devices that aren’t on the allowed list, you can use the access code generator.

This allows you to set a time-limited policy exemption for a specific computer. The access code generator does not require internet access to work, making it the ideal solution for travelling users and other special circumstances.

To further protect sensitive data, AccessPatrol allows you to block file transfers based on file names and extensions. This ensures that even allowed devices can’t transfer sensitive data.

AccessPatrol also includes a variety of USB activity reports to help organizations audit data transfers and peripheral device use.

These reports provide insight into…

  • All files that have been copied, created, renamed, or deleted on USB storage devices, and…
  • A timestamped device history for each user, including attempts to use blocked devices

AccessPatrol’s reports can be generated on-demand, on a set schedule, or automatically sent to your inbox to alert you of specific events.

Don’t let a preventable data leak ruin your organization. Take back control over portable storage devices with a free trial of AccessPatrol.

Get started today by visiting CurrentWare.com/Download

If you have any questions during your evaluation our technical support team is available to help you over a phone call, live chat, or email.

Thank you!

Table of Contents

Why Disable USB Ports?

Prevent Data Theft

Your employees have intimate access to corporate data and knowledge of internal systems. Without proper access control measures stealing data is as simple as transferring it to a portable mass storage device such as a USB flash drive.

Flash drives are capable of storing greater than 1TB of data, which is more than sufficient for exfiltrating databases, spreadsheets, design files, and any other intellectual property that needs to be protected.

One use of Data Loss Prevention (DLP) software is blocking the copying of files to a USB flash drive. This prevents employees from using their privileged position to steal sensitive information such as trade secrets and personally identifiable information. 



data theft prevention - a guide to offboarding employees - CurrentWare

The employee offboarding process presents significant data security risks. Employees have intimate access to corporate data, insider knowledge of the organization’s systems, and a level of trust that can allow them to steal data undetected.

  • 70% of intellectual property theft occurs within the 90 days before an employee’s resignation announcement
  • 88% of IT workers have stated that they would take sensitive data with them if they were fired
  • 72% of CEOs admit they’ve taken valuable intellectual property (IP) from a former employer
  • 50% of respondents in a Symantec survey say they have taken information, and 40% say they will use it in their new jobs

These vulnerabilities need to be addressed as part of any insider threat management program. Click the button below to learn the best practices for protecting data during a termination and gain access to a downloadable IT offboarding checklist.



Protect Endpoints Against USB Malware

USB devices can unknowingly infect company computers with ransomware and other malicious software. Disabling USB ports protects endpoints against rogue USB devices by proactively preventing the transmission of malicious files.

How to Monitor USB Activities

Hey everyone, this is Dale here. I am the Digital Marketing Manager for CurrentWare.

In today’s video, I’d like to show off the new USB activity dashboards introduced to AccessPatrol in version 7.0.

These dashboards provide a convenient overview of the peripheral device usage of your entire workforce as well as specific groups or users—all from the convenience of a web browser.

They work in tandem with AccessPatrol’s device control features and USB activity reports to protect sensitive data against the security risks of portable storage devices.

Today’s video is just a sneak peek of what AccessPatrol is capable of; as time goes on you can expect to see further enhancements and data points added to these dashboards.

At this time, AccessPatrol can track activities from the following peripherals:

  1. Portable storage devices such as USB flash drives, external hard drives, optical discs, tape drives, and SD cards
  2. and Mobile devices including smartphones, PDAs, and tablets

This device usage data is used to populate various graphs across AccessPatrol’s dashboards. You can further refine how granular this data is by limiting the time frame, selecting only specific groups, and even investigating individual users.

Having these metrics available at a glance makes detecting potential insider threats far more efficient as your organization scales. 

Any groups or users that need to be reviewed further can be investigated using the more granular dashboards and AccessPatrol’s device activity reports.

For a more proactive approach to insider threat management you can set up targeted alerts that will notify designated staff members when these high-risk activities occur. 

For the most up-to-date information on AccessPatrol’s activity tracking and data loss prevention capabilities, visit our knowledge base at CurrentWare.com/Support or visit the AccessPatrol product page at CurrentWare.com/AccessPatrol

 In the overview dashboard you can review the following metrics:

  • File Operations that happened over the selected time period, including the number of files that have been copied/created, the number of files that have been deleted, and the number of files that have been renamed/saved as.
  • Overall Device Activities, with a breakdown of how many of the peripherals were authorized and how many were blocked from use.
  • The Top 5 File Types graph shows the most common file types that are copied/created or deleted to and from portable storage devices
  • The Top 5 Device Types graph shows the most common classes of peripheral devices that are blocked and allowed
  • The Top 5 Files Operations graph shows which groups or users have the greatest number of files that have been Copied/Created and Deleted to and from portable storage devices
  • The Top 5 Devices Activities graph shows which groups or users have the greatest number of Blocked and Allowed devices.
  • And finally, The Activity Log provides access to the raw data, with controls to show and hide certain columns, filter and sort data, conduct searches, and export the data to an Excel spreadsheet or PDF. Each dashboard has their own Activity Log with columns that are relevant to that specific dashboard.

Moving on to the Files Dashboard you will see…

  • A timeline of file operations that shows the relationship between the various operations over the course of the selected time period. This can be used to search for patterns in anomalous device usage, such as peaks in file transfers outside of regular operating hours.
  • You will also see graphs with the Top File Types Copied/Created to internal hard drives and external devices
  • Below that, we have graphs that show the users or groups that have Copied/Created or Deleted the most files
  • And, just like the overview dashboard, there is an Activity Log with the raw data.

Finally, we have the Devices Dashboard

In this dashboard, we have…

  • A device activities graph that shows a timeline with the number of allowed and blocked devices each day. This can be further refined to show an hourly breakdown of a specific day so you can find out what time your users were attempting to use blocked devices. 
  • Next, we have graphs with the users or groups that have the most allowed and blocked devices activity over the selected time period. 
  • Scrolling down to the Activity Log, we can use the sorting controls to take a closer look at the users that have been attempting to use unauthorized peripherals.

As you can see, we have specific users that are repeatedly trying to use devices that have not been approved for use by the organization.

While this could just be an accidental oversight on the user’s part, there’s a risk that it’s something much more serious. 

For example, what if this is actually a disgruntled employee trying to steal trade secrets or sensitive customer data so they can bring it to a competitor, or worse, sell it to cybercriminals on the dark web.

Between the costs associated with a damaged reputation, fines, loss of competitive advantage, and remediation, a data breach like this could completely ruin a company.

Before we confront this employee or send them for retraining, let’s investigate this incident further so we can make an informed decision.

Clicking on this user, we’ll be taken to a dashboard that focuses exclusively on their activity. 

Looking at the Devices graph we can see that they have made multiple attempts to use blocked devices. 

Scrolling down, we can see that they’ve been trying to use unauthorized portable storage devices.

Since AccessPatrol is currently blocking any devices that are not explicitly allowed, I know that the only way sensitive data is leaving through a USB drive is if it’s a device that we’ve allowed before. So, let’s take a closer look at how they’ve been using their approved devices.

As you can see here, the types of files that they are transferring are more than capable of containing sensitive data; let’s take a look at the file names for more details.

With the Activity Log we can use the filters, sorting, and column options to isolate our view to the entries we’re the most interested in. 

Once we find something that looks off, we have more than enough information to confront this employee and take any necessary corrective actions.

Ready to protect your sensitive data against theft to USB portable storage devices? Block and monitor peripheral device usage today with a free trial of AccessPatrol, CurrentWare’s USB control software.

Simply visit CurrentWare.com/Download to get started instantly, or get in touch with us at CurrentWare.com/Contact to book a demo with one of our team members. See you next time!


A departing employee was caught stealing classified files! If we didn’t have AccessPatrol we would never have known.
Learn how Viking Yachts protected their intellectual property from a departing employee in our case study


How to Disable USB Ports With AccessPatrol

Hi there welcome to the CurrentWare video where today we will show you how to block employees from using USB devices at work. CurrentWare has been a leading provider of Internet restriction, employee productivity, and endpoint management software for over 15 years.

We’re excited to show you the administrative console today. In order to block employees from using USB devices at work you’d first be required to install the CurrentWare agent on each of your employee’s computers.

You can either do this by local or remote client install. Once the installation is complete the different computers and users will show up on the left side of the screen. The departments and groupings will be based on the directories that you assign for the CurrentWare console.

In this example, we have the administrator, development, marketing, and three other folders available. Once this is configured you have the ability to determine which devices are blocked or allowed using our AccessPatrol solution.

When we click into the device blocking section you can see the different devices that are available: Storage, wireless, and different ports. You have the simple ability to click into USB and choose between full access, read-only, or no access. No access would mean that no employee in that directory has access to use their USB

As you can see on the left side there are a lot more configuration options available. With the prevalence of cell phones, external hard drives, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, many IT departments have chosen to block these endpoints from being available for employees today.

In addition on Accesspatrol, you have the ability for device reporting. You can see the different files that are transferred between devices or if there are any block devices you have the ability to actually see which ones were plugged in.

In this example, we can see Brandon’s access of blocked devices. We’re able to see that although USB devices were blocked for Brandon he actually tried to plug in USB devices many times. AccessPatrol has many different ways to configure reports but also set up different device access for users, groupings, and departments.

We hope you found this demo useful and we’d be glad to show you more about AccessPatrol and the benefits that CurrentWare can provide by visiting CurrentWare.com. A 14-day free trial the software is also available. Thank you for watching!

Note: The above video showcases a legacy user interface for AccessPatrol. To see the most up-to-date features and interface please visit the AccessPatrol product page


AccessPatrol is a granular and easy-to-use software to disable USB ports in Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7. It allows you to control access to USB devices and other peripherals based on users, computers, workgroups, and domain membership. 

This level of control allows you to protect against unauthorized USB devices without blocking the legitimate use of company-controlled peripherals. That way, rather than fully disabling USB ports you can selectively control the USB devices you would like to allow.

It is also a centralized USB blocker software, allowing you to control USB device permissions for thousands of users from a single console. This makes locking USB ports for your entire workforce as easy as a few clicks.

To disable USB ports with AccessPatrol you simply need to install the CurrentWare Console on the Manager’s computer, install the CurrentWare Client on the computers that you would like to disable USB ports on, and return to the CurrentWare Console to assign USB device permissions based on user, endpoint, or workgroup.


A departing employee was caught stealing classified files! If we didn’t have AccessPatrol we would never have known.
Learn how Viking Yachts protected their intellectual property from a departing employee in our case study


Devices That Can Be Controlled With AccessPatrol

In addition to disabling USB ports, the AccessPatrol endpoint security software can block or limit the use of the following peripheral devices. Endpoint device restrictions can be configured based on computer, user, or workgroup.

Device ClassDevicesAccess Permissions
Storage DevicesUSBFull / Read only / No access
DVD /CDFull / Read only / No access
FloppyFull / Read only / No access
TapeFull / Read only / No access
External Hard driveFull / Read only / No access
FirewireFull / Read only / No access
SD CardFull / Read only / No access
MM CardFull / Read only / No access
Wireless DevicesBluetoothFull / No access
InfraredFull / No access
WifiFull / No access
Communication PortsSerialFull / No access
ParallelFull / No access
Imaging DevicesScannersFull / No access
Cameras, Webcams & OthersFull / No access
OthersPrintersFull / No access
USB Ethernet AdapterFull / No access
Sound CardsFull / No access
Portable Devices (iPhones, Mobiles)Full / No access
Network ShareFull / No access

How to Prevent Specific Files From Being Transferred From USB Ports

AccessPatrol allows you to prevent specific files from being transferred to external devices based on their filename or file extension.  

  1. Open the CurrentWare Console
    central management console for AccessPatrol endpoint security solutions
  2. Select the computers or users you would like to control
  3. Under the AccessPatrol tab, select Block File Transfers
    Screenshot of AccessPatrol's USB file transfer blocking feature
  4. Under Enter File Name or Extension, type in the desired extension (CSV, BAK, CAD, etc) or file name (client-list, archive, etc) that you would like to block
  5. Click Add, then click Close
  6. Click Apply to Clients and then click OK

By default AccessPatrol’s Block File Transfers feature will not apply these restrictions to devices that have been added to the Allow List.

If you would also like to block these file transfers to authorized USB devices you simply need to click the “Apply Block File Transfers on Allowed Devices” checkbox before applying the policy to the clients.

How to Disable USB Ports For Mass Storage Devices Only

AccessPatrol device permissions window with USB drives blocked

If you would like to disable USB ports for mass storage only (e.g. without blocking keyboards, mice, and other desired USB devices) you can do that with AccessPatrol.

By default, when disabling USB ports with AccessPatrol it will distinguish between USB mass storage devices and other peripherals such as keyboards and mice. It also provides granular control over other portable storage devices such as external hard drives, SD Cards, and mobile phones.

AccessPatrol’s ability to distinguish between mass storage and keyboards makes it the best USB mass storage device blocking software for business.

  1. Open the CurrentWare Console
    central management console for AccessPatrol endpoint security solutions
  2. Select the group(s) of computers or users you would like to control
  3. Under the AccessPatrol tab, select Device Permissions
    Screenshot of AccessPatrols peripheral device blocking permissions window
  4. Under Storage Devices, select USB

    Device Blocking window Screenshot of CurrentWare's USB device control software AccessPatrol
  5. Under Access Permissions set the desired level of restriction (Full Access, Read Only, No Access)
  6. Click Apply and then click OK

After following these steps you will be blocking USB mass storage devices while still allowing keyboards and mice to function.

How to Allow a Specific USB Device When USB Ports Are Disabled

Grant Ongoing Access to Authorized USB Devices

With AccessPatrol’s Allowed List you can disable USB ports while still allowing specific authorized USB devices.

  1. Connect the desired USB device to any computer that has a CurrentWare Client installed
  2. Open the CurrentWare Console
    central management console for AccessPatrol endpoint security solutions
  3. Select the folder with the computers or users you would like to control
  4. Under the AccessPatrol tab, select Allowed List
    AccessPatrol device allowed list
  5. Click “Add From Available Devices”
  6. Choose a device from the Vendor ID, Serial Number and/or PNP Device ID lists
    Screenshot of AccessPatrol's USB device allow list
  7. Click on Add to Allowed List, then click OK

Administrators can use AccessPatrol’s Device Allowed List to establish a list of devices that their end-users can use on company devices, even when USB ports are disabled.

You can choose to allow devices by the following identifiers:

  • Vendor ID
  • Serial number
  • PNP device ID

Device whitelisting is configured on a per-folder basis. Devices that are added to the allowed list for a given folder will apply to any computers that are in the specified folder. AccessPatrol’s allowed list supports USBs, External Hard drives, Imaging devices, and portable devices.

Note: Allowing a device by serial number is fully compatible with Windows 10. For Windows 7 or 8, some newer models of USB devices may not support this feature. Instead of allowing by serial number, it will allow all devices from the same vendor and model.

How to Temporarily Allow USB Devices

AccessPatrol can grant temporary access to blocked devices using it’s access code generator

Administrators and authorized managers can use the generator to produce a single-use code that provides users with a set duration where the computer’s USB ports are no longer disabled by AccessPatrol. 

The access code is unique to each computer that you generate for and the computers do not need to be connected to the internet to use it. So long as the CurrentWare client is installed on the employee’s computer they can be provided with temporary access to USB devices.

  1. Generate a temporary access code
    Screenshot of AccessPatrol's access code Code Generator to temporarily enable USB devices
  • Open the CurrentWare Console
  • Select the computers or users you would like to provide temporary USB device access to
  • Click “Access Code Generator”
  • Choose the expiration date and duration of the access code
  • Click Generate to create a temporary access code
  1. Activate the temporary access code from the employee’s computer
grant access to endpoint devices from control panel
  • Have the employee open the Control Panel
  • Set “View By” to large icons or small icons
  • Click “Grant access to endpoint devices”
  • Have the employee enter the temporary access code into the dialogue box, then click “Unlock”
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How to Use the Device Manager to Disable USB Ports

If you would like to completely disable individual USB ports on a per-computer basis, you can do so with Windows Device Manager. 

This method is the most cumbersome to manage when an employee needs legitimate access to authorized USB devices as you will need to manually unlock the ports from the device itself rather than using a central console.

  1. Log in to an administrator account
  2. Right-click on the Start menu
  3. Click on Device Manager
  4. Click on Universal Serial Bus controllers to view all of the USB ports
  5. Right click on the USB port that you would like to disable
  6. Select “Disable device”
  7. Restart the computer to apply the changes

To ensure that the employee does not manually unlock the ports you will need to ensure they do not have access to an administrator account. To re-enable the ports simply perform steps 1-5 and select “Enable device”. 

How to Disable USB Ports Using Group Policy

If you would like detailed instructions on how to use a Group Policy Object to block employees from using USB devices you can visit this guide on the CurrentWare blog.

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. 

GPO vs USB Blocking Software:

  1. Applying unique USB restrictions to different departments and users with a GPO is complicated for the average user. It also requires proficiency with Active Directory to manage at-scale.
  2. Dedicated USB mass storage device blocking software such as AccessPatrol is easy to manage, allowing the modification of policy updates to be delegated to less technically savvy users.
  3. Managing unique USB policies for individual users is more intuitive when using dedicated USB blocking software.

Conclusion

Using software to disable USB ports is critical for protecting sensitive data against theft through unauthorized USB devices. If you would like to easily manage USB device permissions in your company you can get started with a free trial of AccessPatrol USB device control software today.

Dale Strickland
Dale Strickland
Dale Strickland is the Digital Marketing Manager for CurrentWare, a global provider of user activity monitoring, web filtering, and device control software. Dale’s diverse multimedia background allows him the opportunity to produce a variety of content for CurrentWare including blogs, infographics, videos, eBooks, and social media shareables.
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