That's one way to create demand for a solution

That's one way to create demand for a solution
That's one way to create demand for a solution 

By William Jackson
GCN Home 
07/23/07 issue

Senforce Technologies announced last month a new version of its Endpoint 
Security Suite that includes encryption and controls for removable 
storage devices such as USB thumb drives. Its no secret that these 
small, fast, high-capacity drives can be risks, but Senforce has come up 
with a new trick to drum up a market for the suite.

Shortly before the product announcement, I received in the mail a bright 
new USB drive from Senforce. Being a sucker for free stuff, I eagerly 
examined the drive and even read the material. I learned Senforce had 
thoughtfully loaded the device with malware.

Once the thumbdrive is inserted into your computers USB port, the 
following harmless, yet very insightful experiment will begin, I was 

* The program on the thumb drive will execute once your operating system 
  recognizes the device.

* The program will immediately identify and download the contents of 
  your My Documents folder to the thumb drive.

* You will not receive any notification or warning that your documents 
  have been identified and downloaded.

Nothing to worry about, I was assured. No harm will be caused to your 
data or your computer. But, I was warned, it will be your responsibility 
to monitor or destroy the thumbdrive once it is in your possession.

Thanks a lot, guys.

The publicity scheme is to raise awareness of a trick called 
thumbsucking, a cute name coined by Senforce to describe the process of 
using a U3-enabled device which can carry your software and data to 
trick a computer into downloading data. A U3 drive does this by mapping 
to two-letter drives when inserted into a computer, one of the drives 
masquerading as a CD drive. When the computer sees this CD it uses the 
AutoRun feature to launch the US3 LaunchPad on the thumb drive. If the 
thumb drive happens to have a thumbsucking tool loaded on it and 
Senforce includes detailed instructions for creating your own tool data 
is automatically and secretly downloaded to the devices second drive. 
There is no word yet if this technique is actually being used in the 
wild, but depending on the size of the Senforce mailing list, I doubt 
that it will be long before it is.

I was sorely tempted by their offer. The device is an unbreakable 2G 
titanium drive with a handy lanyard. An accompanying letter egged me on 
by saying, With the included drive, you are now capable of thumbsucking 
any of your unsuspecting colleagues! Naturally we dont suggest it. Wink, 

And if I had no playful or malicious inclinations, I should feel free 
after testing to erase the script, and just use the drive as you would 
any other.

No, thanks. I just dont feel like taking the risk. At least not on my 
computer. And certainly not on a friends computer. How do I know that 
the experiment is harmless or what else is going on in the background? 
How do I know it will let me erase the script? I suppose I have 
Senforces word for it, and it doubtless is an honorable company. After 
all, they were honest enough to tell me about the software in the first 

Maybe I'm being too sensitive about this, but it just seems wrong for a 
security company to ship out hardware loaded with malicious code. Even 
to entirely respectable persons like me. Still, it could be an effective 
tool for creating a demand for an anti-thumbsucking tool, and I have to 
admit that Im a little curious. So, take a look at the picture at the 
top of this column, and if you see someone who looks like that sidling 
up to your computer with a thumbdrive in his hand

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