BYOD Protection: Dutch Chemical Company Attacked With USB Memory Sticks.

Cyber criminals have attempted to infiltrate a Dutch chemical company by “losing” USB sticks infected with malware in the company’s parking lot.  Gives a totally different spin to the term “computer trojan horse” and shows how BYOD protection and security can be maximized if employees are properly educated.

BYOD: The Culmination of an Old Trend

Despite the fanfare — or at least, attention — that BYOD is receiving currently, the Bring Your Own Device trend is anything but “modern.”  When you consider that laptops and external storage devices are also devices, the BYOD evolution started with the appearance of small, portable, and cheap flashdrives.

(Some might point out that laptops were at the vanguard but I disagree.  BYOD is about bringing your own device, and while laptops may have crossed the line first, your own laptop at work can be best described as an outlying event, not an actual trend.  The advent of pocketable, cheap devices is the true precursor to BYOD.)

Social Engineering and USB Sticks: Almost Win

According to, several USB sticks were placed in the parking lot of DSM, a Dutch multinational chemical group.  The USB sticks were infected with programs that could cull usernames and passwords and send them to a specific IP address.  The plan failed despite its brilliance.

Brilliant, because most people who pick up a USB flashdrive will automatically stick it into a computer, be it for altruistic reasons (let’s find the owner by taking a look at the data) or otherwise (let’s wipe the USB stick and use it as my own).  The first DSM employee who did so, however, took the USB device straight to the IT department, where the malware was detected and the remote IP address with which the malware communicated was blocked.

Had it not been for a very conscious employee, there is a very good chance that whoever sprinkled these infected devices would have gotten an electronic foothold inside the chemical company.

Proper BYOD Security: Educating Employees Plays a Big Part in Maintaining Safety

Of course, this does not mean that DSM wouldn’t have caught the malware (eventually).  I’m sure that in today’s data security environment, a number of data loss prevention programs would have kicked in.

However, dealing with an infection after the fact is always less preferable than preventing the infection in the first place.  The above is the type of success story than shows how a multipronged approach to BYOD and data security is more beneficial and effective than just relying on technological solutions only.

Indeed, when you become aware of the many types of malware you can find in the wild (see this thread at for a number of eye-opening malware types that were found by forum participants), you’ll see that preventing the malware infection in the first place is the best approach to data security.

And that requires that everyone do their part.

You could, of course, just turn off the USB ports on all computers and devices used by the company.  But, that would mean your company doesn’t have a BYOD policy as much as a BYODBIWW policy (bring your own device but it won’t work).

Related Articles and Sites:

Comments (0)

Let us know what you think