Google will issue a security update to block the USB ports of Chromebook laptops, when the screen is locked.
The new feature, called USBGuard, will prevent malicious actors from using so-called ‘Rubber Ducky’ attacks, which use thumb drives to mimic keyboards and run malicious commands.
With USBGuard in place, whenever the screen is locked, it will prevent any USB devices from executing any code, malicious or otherwise.
The new ChromeOS feature was spotted within the experimental Canary builds of the operating system. Chrome Story (via ZDnet) reports that is expected to be available in the main, stable release of Chrome OS before too much longer.
From there, Chromebook users will be able to enable the feature by tinkering with the flags in settings. Once it’s available, browse to chrome://flags/#enable-usbguard to turn it on.
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Google’s move comes amid the growth of available to bad actors, who would seek to target users while they’re away from their screens. Shutting down the USB ports completely when the screen is locked, is the easiest way to guard against these attacks. Right now it will seemingly be an option for Chrome OS users, but it’s likely Google will simply build the functionality into the OS by default.
The feature arrives around six months after Apple released iOS 11.4.1, which also prevented data being transmitted via USB while the device itself was locked by the user.
The USB Protected Mode was also designed to prevent law enforcement agencies from accessing iPhone or iPad users data without the permission of the owners. Phones that have been locked for an hour or more will no longer enable USB accessories to connect to them. Police in the US had been using the GreyKey device to circumnavigate Apple’s built-in protections for consumers’ iPhones.
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