FAQ – Prohibit Non-College Owned USB Devices

What is a USB device?

The Universal Serial Bus (USB) port and cousins such as FireWire, IDE and Bluetooth offer plug-and-play connections to many peripherals, including storage devices. Any storage device plugged into a computer’s USB port can potentially present a high risk to the college and students in terms of data theft and privacy issues.

For example, digital music players can host huge quantities of MP3 files – and hold files in any other format such as word processing, PDF, spreadsheet, database, photo or multimedia. USB memory sticks do the same thing. Digital cameras also can store files. So can cell phones, portable hard disks and personal digital assistants.

Another real danger is for the potential for computer viruses and spyware to be automatically download from a USB device onto your office computer which would then constitute an IT security breach.  Student records, your user login credentials, and other sensitive information can be at risk of being compromised by using non-college owned USB storage devices.

What is the difference between a college owned USB device and a non-college owned USB device.

The VCCS Security Standard and the ISO27004 document states:

“Prohibit the connection of any non-COV owned data storage media or device to a COV-owned network, unless the connection is to a segmented guest network>”

All college owned mobile storage devices such as laptops, PDA’s, or other types of USB storage devices that have access to data that would be considered to be under HIPPA regulations or otherwise deemed private, those devices should utilize encryption.  College owned USB devices are the physical property of the college and therefore fall the management authority of the college and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

How do I encrypt data on my USB thumb drive or laptop computer?

Encryption software for free and downloadable from the Technology Services website.


You can also submit an on-line work order to ask for assistance in loading in using the encryption software. 

What about student owned USB drives?

There is no restriction for using USB devices on student accessible computers such as in the Library or computer classrooms.

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