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USB sticks and external hard drives are proving a great success, as they provide for the effortless exchange of data. But USB sticks and external hard drives also come with serious inherent risks – enabling malware such as the Conficker computer worm to spread with ease.

Symantec security experts have seen a large rise in the spread of malware via USB sticks and external hard drives. If in 2007, just 37 per cent of all infections were spread this way, this figure already amounted to as much as 65 per cent by 2008.  Reasons for this strong rise are suspected to be the increased use of portable devices such as USB sticks and external hard drives on the one hand, and the option for malware producers to fall back on mechanisms last used in the good old days of the floppy disk on the other.

To protect against such current malware, your antivirus software must be up-to-date at all times. You can ensure this by installing every latest signature update. Almost all antivirus programs offer an automatic update function. This is the only way to make sure that your antivirus program will detect even the most current malware.

Please also have a look at the second step of the 5 steps to your computer security - "protect" - for further information on this topic.

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