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Kiosks: The Virus Source You're Unaware Of

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 19 comments

You don't need to sacrifice your work to print out those vacation pics.

Here's a good point: "Public kiosks, such as those used for photo printing, are exposed to thousands of USB drives and other media every month." So it's likely that the flash drives or memory cards you plug into PC-based kiosks may infect your home or office computer.

Lifehacker offers a straightforward solution. Once your removable media has served its purpose, simply format them on a PC booted up with a Live CD. Live CDs are self-contained boot discs (usually running a variant of Linux) that let you use a computer without accessing—or installing—anything on your hard disk. Your files and operating system remain safe, as you wipe any potential threats from your potentially dirty thumb drives and camera media cards.

A personal favorite is the Ubuntu installer. While it lets you install the popular Linux variant on your computer, its trial mode is for all intents and purposes doubles as a Live CD.

Use Read-Only Media to Protect Against Kiosk-Propagated Viruses

Display 19 Comments.
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  • 11 Hide
    otacon72 , July 6, 2010 10:29 PM
    ..or you can buy a cheap photo printer for less thsn $100 and print them out yourself. I haven't printed out a pic in years anyway.
Other Comments
  • 11 Hide
    otacon72 , July 6, 2010 10:29 PM
    ..or you can buy a cheap photo printer for less thsn $100 and print them out yourself. I haven't printed out a pic in years anyway.
  • 2 Hide
    Vampyrbyte , July 6, 2010 10:45 PM
    edileeMy question is...is there really anything on a picture kiosk to infect? Almost all viruses are directed at Microsoft OS's and their other software so what does a kiosk have that might be worth messing with? My Kaspersky AV software pops a scan window up anytime I insert a USB ram drive and any other removable store media and hopefully all other AVs do the same. This seems more like an ad for Linux than an actual story...anyone else notice that?


    Don't be a div. Those Kiosks are running Windows. They are bound to get infected. Seeing as some of them handle payment they may even be activly targeted themselves! You can never be too careful with the security and integrity of your data and systems
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 6, 2010 10:47 PM
    Ha ha ha ha. Viruses don't care about what is "worth messing with" on any computer infected. They infect things. Its a point of entry to get on other computers. They said "boot disks" Not "It has to be Linux"
  • 3 Hide
    flightmare , July 6, 2010 11:02 PM
    When using ubuntu for this purpose, I recommend using gparted with ntfsprogs for formatting. Gparted is not preinstalled anymore on the latest ubuntu versions so you have to install it yourself:

    sudo apt-get install gparted ntfsprogs

  • -3 Hide
    Clintonio , July 6, 2010 11:07 PM
    flightmareWhen using ubuntu for this purpose, I recommend using gparted with ntfsprogs for formatting. Gparted is not preinstalled anymore on the latest ubuntu versions so you have to install it yourself:sudo apt-get install gparted ntfsprogs

    No point in showing off your linux skills here, nobody will be impressed.
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , July 6, 2010 11:15 PM
    Have you considered USB Vaccine? Most virus that travel this way use autorun. It pretty much makes it so flash drives can not autorun(and autorun can not be added to it once its vaccinated). So as long as you do not hop on the card/stick and go runs some random files you should be fairly safe with this.

    http://research.pandasecurity.com/panda-usb-and-autorun-vaccine/
  • 1 Hide
    matt87_50 , July 6, 2010 11:24 PM
    I hate to sound naive here... but... what can a thumb drive do if you don't have auto play on? flash drives never auto ran on xp for me (to the point that I made my own program to do it...) and nothing seems to auto run on win 7...

    also, a kiosk would only need to access the drive in a read only mode, which could easily lead to better security measures on their end too.
  • 0 Hide
    razercultmember1 , July 7, 2010 12:00 AM
    otacon72..or you can buy a cheap photo printer for less thsn $100 and print them out yourself. I haven't printed out a pic in years anyway.


    lol same, the size of my g9 CMOS is way big thus big ass paper and a big ass printer
  • 0 Hide
    lancelot123 , July 7, 2010 2:14 AM
    Walmart's (and Sam's Club) kiosks run windows. BUT they are physically incapable of writing to the inserted media or deleting anything from them. Safety concerns. Been like this for at least 8 years.
  • 1 Hide
    chodaboy , July 7, 2010 2:15 AM
    Hmm, I thought all cameras had a format function for the SD-card. Make picture, print picture from SD-card, format card in camera. A lot less work then booting up from a cd and all that.
  • 0 Hide
    okibrian , July 7, 2010 4:14 AM
    edileeMy question is...is there really anything on a picture kiosk to infect? Almost all viruses are directed at Microsoft OS's and their other software so what does a kiosk have that might be worth messing with? My Kaspersky AV software pops a scan window up anytime I insert a USB ram drive and any other removable store media and hopefully all other AVs do the same. This seems more like an ad for Linux than an actual story...anyone else notice that?

    I think you are missing the end goal here. People don't really care so much as to raise hell with the kiosk. They are using the kiosk to get to you. Oh and FYI, Microsoft is not the only OS that can be hacked. It's just the one people like to talk about so much and that is because it is the most used OS. Go take a look at a free program called metasploit and see how fast I can get into your system. As for your AV, it is always one step behind as with all other AV programs.
  • 0 Hide
    hardcore_gamer , July 7, 2010 5:40 AM
    ....or use a good Av like bitdefender or kaspersky ;)  :p 
  • 0 Hide
    dragonfang18 , July 7, 2010 6:08 AM
    So they are like town bicycles... who knows what they carry...
  • 0 Hide
    LePhuronn , July 7, 2010 9:00 AM
    Format your media using a Live CD after you're done?

    Lifehacker is aware that the majority of kiosk customers aren't very computer literate, yes? And if you have the technical expertise to use a Live CD then you're going to be more than capable of checking for, and clearing out, any virus protection from the flash card or thumb drive.
  • 0 Hide
    gemmakaru , July 7, 2010 11:46 AM
    I'd be more concerned with biological virus pickup up from the touchscreen, euw.
  • 0 Hide
    Christopher1 , July 7, 2010 12:02 PM
    This is sheer stupidity. This speaks to how well these things are 'protected' if they can get viruses on them, knowing that they do things like payment processing.

    What we really need is for computers to state that NOTHING can be installed on a machine without permission, and it KILLS anything that automatically runs if it isn't part of the OS or a known good process.
  • 0 Hide
    bv90andy , July 7, 2010 12:21 PM
    Or format it in windows, in XP hold shift so autorun won't start and in vista/seven/xpsp3 autorun won't start anyway, it asks you what you want to do, that won't infect your pc, that's why they came up with that. In any case, there are easier ways then having to boot off of a CD that takes 5 minutes or more.
  • 0 Hide
    gm0n3y , July 7, 2010 4:03 PM
    The last Live CD I used was Phlak, does anybody know if that's still around.
  • 0 Hide
    mclaud2000 , July 7, 2010 4:27 PM
    Or you can use the write protection tab on SD cards.
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