These days USB keys are as cheap as they can be. Now you can buy a 16 GB USB key for less than $10. Because USB keys are this cheap, everybody is carrying them around. This poses another problem as USB keys are one of the many ways through which the modern malware spread. Imagine your friend walks into your room, and before you realize she has inserted her USB key into your computer. You stood there watching this happen in horror and surprise, while the malware on her USB key was infecting your PC. If you do not want this to happen to your precious computer, then you should restrict the USB drives access to your PC.
You can restrict the USB disk access easily using the freeware Ratool on a Windows computer. The Ratool (short for removable access tool) is a portable application and so it does not require installation of any sort. Just download this software to your PC, extract the contents of the ZIP archive to a folder and run ratool.exe from there.
The Ratool shows up with a tiny window and three options – allow read & write access, allow read only access and disable access. The first option Allow Read & Write is the default setting for the Windows operating system and allows anyone to read and write any files or folders to a USB disk. The second option Allow Read Only disables the writing access for all USB disks, so that you can only read already present files but cannot modify the contents of any USB disks. The third option Disable USB Disks Detection disables all kinds of access to USB disks from your computer (if you insert a USB key into your computer, it will act as if nothing has happened).
You have to select one of these desired options and click on the Apply Changes button. The changes will take effect when you restart your computer or re-insert all the plugged in USB disks. Other than this, Ratool has some useful tools that allow you to disable autorun for USB devices, show hidden files on your USB disks and safely remove a USB device.
The Ratool is a very small but useful tool to restrict or disable access to your USB disks. If you work in an environment where many people try to use their USB keys on your computer, then you can just disable the USB disk detection on your computer. This can save your computer from many types of malware that spread through USB keys.
You can download the free Ratool from http://www.sordum.org/.