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New, out-of-the-box, external hard drives could steal your data

A malware attack we are learning about could harm your personal files. People are buying external hard drives online, plugging them into personal computers and losing precious photos and data. This is being seen in the U.S. retail market.

CPR Tools, a Fort Myers cybersecurity company, buys a lot of hard drives, but this the first time one of its experts has seen a cyberattack like this in the marketplace.

“We bought a bunch of these,” said Ray Leventhal, a technical writer for CPR Tools. “Kind of surprised what we found when we plugged them in … Out of the box it contained some malware.”

It can happen to anyone. These hard drives, which can be bought online or in stores, automatically download the malware the first time you use them, putting your data at risk.

“At this point, we think it’s beaconing out to some sort of command-and-control center,” Leventhal said. “At the very least, your system could become part of a botnet.”

So your data is gone, or as a botnet, your computer is helping steal other people’s data, and you won’t even know it. Either way, your data and computer are compromised.

These hard drives are made in China. Leventhal says anybody could be trying to steal people’s information this way, even part of the Chinese government.

To protect your computer, it’s recommended to keep virus software up to date, and format every new drive before you use it. The key to protecting your information is going through that longer process.

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Reporter:Rich Kolko
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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