Cyber Security Story Time - Don’t Be Edward

By Unlimited Technology | Oct 07, 2019

Don’t Be Edward


Edward is full of anticipation as he walks into Rock City Coffee. He has always loved its warm vibe. He also finds it comforting that certain people are always there – the artist at the table near the window, the couple dedicated to helping underprivileged women, the book club members. Today, however, he was mostly just hoping to see Julia. As he had hoped, she was working today, and he suddenly felt a bit flushed. After 3 months of nearly daily visits, he finally asked her out last week. He felt like the date went well but at the end of the night, he leaned in to kiss her and she reached for the door. Was it just awkward timing or had she actively dodged him? He had played it out in his head a thousand times this week. He finally concluded that since they had met at Rock City, he would test the waters by causally dropping by for a coffee today.

When Julia saw Edward, she flashed him a big smile. Edward’s heart swelled and all his fears evaporated. He ordered his coffee and she took a break to sit and chat with him. They made another date and as he got up, Edward felt positively giddy. He looked for someone else to talk to just so he could linger another minute. As he scanned the space, he noticed that the artist was gone but, curiously, there was an envelope on his table. The envelope had 2 pencils, an eraser and a USB drive labeled “Faves” in it. Edward couldn’t remember the artist’s name and didn’t know where he lived but Edward picked up the envelope and vowed to return it to him as soon as he could. If nothing else, it was a good excuse to return to Rock City tomorrow.

At work, he couldn’t stop buzzing with anticipation of his date with Julia. He decided to channel his exuberant energy through an effort to find the artist. He picked up the USB drive and plugged it into his computer. He then saw a file called “About Me,” so he clicked to open it. As soon as he did, an unknown program opened and locked Edward out of his computer. Much to Edward’s horror, the program started propagating throughout the network and deleting files on everyone’s computers. It took an hour for the IT staff to shut the virus down. By that time, numerous local files were destroyed without any recovery options. However, due to the company’s automated back up system, 80% of the data was recovered.

Take away: Even if you think you know who an external drive belongs to, you shouldn’t plug it into your computer. The user may unknowingly have a virus. In some cases, intentionally infected drives may be planted in locations to appear to belong to someone else, as was the case here.

A recent study found that 68% of people will pick up a USB drive in hopes of finding the owner and 48%, like Edward, will put a USB drive in their computer. Don’t be Edward.

Unlimited Technology cares about everyone’s cyber safety and we specialize in strengthening the last defense: employees. Let us know how we can help your business be more secure and better prepared.



Amy Williams, PhD, CISSP is VP of Cyber for PSB and Exec. Mgr. of Unlimited Technology Associates in Rockland and Augusta. She served as the Dir. of Cyber for the NYC Crime Commission.

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