Why You Should NOT Give Out Thumb Drives at Your Trade Show

No Flash DrivesGiving out thumb drives (aka USB Drives) at your show or booth seems like a good idea. They are small, can be packaged attractively, and the attendee can just stick the device into his or her PC and view your material. And that material can be anything from brochures to a movie to Power Point slides to links to your web site. Sounds great – right?

Wrong! This article is written to discourage you from giving out thumb drives and attendees from taking them. This author personally throws away any thumb drive he is given, even if they are in a beautiful package.

Why the adverse reaction? How about this article: the U.S. Military bans USB drives – way back in 2008. The reason – SECURITY. Since thumb drives will “auto run” when placed into the USB port of your PC, this creates an opportunity for someone to stick a virus on the drive that you will activate upon plugging in. These viruses can be subtle – a backdoor to your network – to downright malicious, which can lead to the confiscation and destruction of your data.

Here’s another one. The Defense Department’s worst ever security breach was caused by “bad” thumb drive!

Even old stalwart IBM got caught up in the thumb drive scandal. At a conference in Australia, the established security company gave out free drives unknowingly infected with a virus. This was at a security conference!

It is also one of the tricks of bad boys to leave “free” thumb drives on tables at a conference. Unwitting people will then pick up the thumb drives and bring them to their office. Before they know it, criminals are inside the organization’s network (and probably your bank account)!

You might say, well I wouldn’t put a virus on my thumb drive. I’m sure you would not, but how does the attendee know that? Also keep in mind that you usually are not in physical possession of your marketing material at all times. Anybody involved in the production, shipping or distribution of the thumb drives can load it with a virus without you even knowing it! Remember, even IBM had this happen to them.

If these were not enough reasons, then consider this. Flash drives are yesterday’s technology. Today it’s all about mobile, social media, and using clouds.

So please get rid of this security risk as part of your marketing efforts. And to attendees out there I say – leave those flash drives on the table!