Panda USB and AutoRun Vaccination

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Panda USB and AutoRun Vaccination
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twospirit
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April 8, 2009
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May 5, 2009 - 2:47 am
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Hi Dave
I'm Baaaack!
Just read the May1st 2009 issue of the Newsletter and.......... KUDOS to you and the others that have blurbs' (Yes, that dates me) in this addition.

Before I get to the subject at hand, I agree that going the Blog Route and having responses in this Forum are the way to go.

Now, with regard to the Panda USB and AutoRun Vaccination. It would appear that you are quite keen on this and on the surface it appears to be quite a tool and an apparently needed fix for the possible intrusion(s) from the BAD GUYS.

I myself, used the MS Fix, but after reading your "blurb" it was obvious that perhaps there was a better way.

Yes, on the surface this sounds like a real slick way to thwart the potential problem. However, After reading all of the messages on their site regarding this subject, not once, but twice,on Panda's page for AutoRun Vaccination, I found myself backing away as my reading continued.

To begin with, the folks querying the Panda Folks were way above my computer literacy level. Thus, I found myself becoming overloaded with Geek Stuff I do not understand.

Some things that became clear, um, that is sort-a - kind-a clear are:
1. This cool tool does support FATxx. The negative is that NTFS is not currently supported. Yes, they did indicate that this would be addressed in the future (sometime). Now, the only USB devices I use are 3 IDE Hard Drives in purchased enclosures and of course a web cam.
With regard to the my 3 Hard drives, not only are the HD's formated for NTFS, each of the 14 partitions were created as NTFS. At the current time then, it would appear my best action would be to avoid this little tool like the plague.
2. In the messages from readers and folks from Panda, it became clear that after Vaccination, there can at the very least be a problem with the USB item not working if it is above 16gb. Gee, my smallest partition is right at 30gb. This appears to be another not so cool situation for my setup.
3. While I was at times confused by the techno' talk that was above my computer literacy level, it became evident that the only way AutoRun could be restored is, you must save the data to a temporary someplace and then reformat the USB Device so that AutoRun is again active. This is where my confusion became evident.
OK, the purpose of AutoRun, if I understand correctly, is to provide plug and play. So, No AutoRun means one would have to manually format the USB device every time after it had been unplugged and then plugged back in such as thumb what-ever-you-call-them. Is That correct? If so, we have a big ole' can of Canadian Night Crawlers that are going to be a big ole' Mess awaitin' to happen.

Dang! the more I learn, the more confused I become.

I am sure that I must be all confused here. So, I reckon I need some good guidance. As things appear to me, there is not way I will even consider using the Panda Product.

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Jim Hillier
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May 5, 2009 - 7:00 am
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Hey Twospirit - First off I must clear up a couple of misconceptions in your post. Firstly, it was I who wrote the 'blurb' on the Panda product and not Dave. Secondly, we are not necessarily "quite keen on this".... please let me explain.
The whole object of the 'New Freeware' section in the news letter is to provide a basic introduction to new freeware titles which many may otherwise be unaware of, from there on it is up to the individual to check them out further and make their own decisions. They have not been tested by myself or any other DCT editors and we are not making any recommendations. The criteria I use for selection, apart from the fact they must obviously be new, is they be interesting or different, and hopefully useful.

I'll try to address your queries, one at a time, in the order you put them...bearing in mind I have read through the the 'blurb' on the site just the once myself:

1) The vaccination on a PC supports both FAT and NTFS formats, it is the vaccination of individual USB drives for which NTFS is not currently supported. I understand it to mean that you can vaccinate a PC and that will disable AutoRun so that no program can auto-execute from [i:3q9xn20i]any[/i:3q9xn20i] external device, regardless. That system should be fine if you just use the USB devices on a vaccinated machine. Using a non vaccinated USB drive on your vaccinated PC would be fine but if you wanted to take that USB drive and use it on another PC which had not been vaccinated, there would be an element of risk.
2) I don't recall reading anything about a size limit and associated problems. If such a limit was mentioned I'm sure the '16gb' would be referring to USB flash drives and not USB external HDD's.
3) The vaccination is fully and easily reversed on a PC but not on a USB drive. You are quite right, in order to undo the vaccination on a USB drive you would need to reformat and that would necessitate saving any wanted data to a another location/device beforehand. Mind you, I cannot think of any reason why you would need to undo the vaccination process.

[i:3q9xn20i]"OK, the purpose of AutoRun, if I understand correctly, is to provide plug and play. So, No AutoRun means one would have to manually format the USB device every time after it had been unplugged and then plugged back in such as thumb what-ever-you-call-them. Is That correct?"[/i:3q9xn20i]

That is partly correct and partly incorrect. The first part is right on....yes, AutoRun is for providing a plug 'n play facility. The second part is wrong... disabling AutoRun does not mean the USB drive would need to be formatted each time after it has been unplugged and then plugged back in. It merely does away with the automation and means you would have to manually start the process.

More and more infections are attaching themselves to the Autorun.inf file which is found on USB drives, so when the device is plugged in and the AutoRun facility on the host machine is enabled, any malware associated with the Autorun.inf file will immediately be activated. The vaccination process on a USB drive permanently renders an innocuous (safe/harmless) Autorun.inf file unreadable and immune to any changes or modifications so...on a non vaccinated PC, Windows cannot automatically execute any malicious file on that drive. I'm sure we will be seeing more of these types of security apps. The growing proliferation of USB flash drives with many people transferring them from machine to machine creates the necessity.

I am certainly no expert myself Twospirit, but that is the way I see it.

cheers now.....JIM

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