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New "USB Canary" Keeps Close Watch on USB Ports

New "USB Canary" Tool for Linux Monitors USB Ports 24/7

A new open source tool can provide Linux users with the ability to receive an alert any time someone attempts to plug a device into one of their machine’s USB ports.

Dubbed USB Canary, the tool uses pyudev to monitor USB devices and can be set to do so either at all times or only when the computer is locked. More importantly, the tool can be configured to alert users when someone is tampering with their USB ports. It can either send an SMS via the Twilio API, or send a Slack notification via an inbuilt Slack bot.

Released in open source not long ago, the tool aims at overcoming some of the shortcomings of other monitoring tools that inform the user on USB port-related incidents only after login. USB Canary aims at keeping an eye on systems at all times when they are unattended.

According to the researcher, who goes by the online handle errbufferoverfl, although the tool is available only for Linux at the moment, Windows and macOS versions are also planned (but no specific details on them have been revealed so far).

Written in Python, the author explains that the tool was initially created as a personal utility while he was between jobs and that the use of third-party libraries.

Users can configure the tool to detect the type of screensaver running on the computer (it can detect XScreenSaver and gnome-screensaver, but can be used with unsupported screensavers as well), to turn a “paranoid” mode on, and set the notifications to arrive either via Twilio or Slack.

“Paranoid mode is also suitable for people who want to monitor if their servers have had USB's plugged into them, although I haven't tested them on Linode, Amazon Web Services, or Digital Ocean it is suitable for those with physical servers that may need this sort of monitoring,” the researcher notes.

Although this was a personal project in the beginning, others already picked it up and helped improving it through their contributions.

The open source tool is available via GitHub.

Related: Sophisticated USB Trojan Spotted in the Wild

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