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Honeynet Project Launches USB Honeypot to Combat USB-based Malware

The HoneyNet project has launched a new tool dubbed Ghost, developed by a German student, which aims to combat USB-based malware. The researcher from Bonn University, Sebastian Peoplau, developed his tool as part of his bachelor thesis, but it may end up being a go to resource for prevention on standalone and critical systems.

The focus is to catch malware that is able to spread completely independent from networks. Given the history of malware such as Stuxnet and Conficker (which is still widely circulating to this day), there is a tremendous need for something like Ghost.

“Ghost is a honeypot for malware that uses USB storage devices for propagation. It is able to capture such malware without any further knowledge - especially, it doesn't need signatures or the like to accomplish its task... If your machine is infected by malware that uses such devices for propagation, the honeypot will trick it into infecting the emulated device,” Ghost’s project page and blog explains.

If there is any downside to Ghost, it’s that in its present state, it only supports 32-bit Windows XP. But that will change soon enough, especially once the community gets involved. Still, it’s something that seriously needs to be given a chance – as it is certainly has more potential that basic USB scanners offered by endpoint protection products.

A video of Peoplau giving a presentation on Ghost can be seen here. The project’s Web page, as well as documentation and source can be found here

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.