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One of the most common security concerns (especially when traveling) is the attach of unknown USB device on our system.

There are a few ways on how to protect your system.


Hardware Protection


Cloud Storage

More and more companies are now moving from local storage to cloud storage as a way to reduce the attack surface on systems:

IBM a few days ago, banned portable storage devices


Hot Glue on USB Ports

also we must not forget the old but powerful advice from security researches & hackers:


by inserting glue or using a Hot Glue Gun to disable the USB ports of a system.

Problem solved!



I was reading the redhat 7.5 release notes and I came upon on usbguard:



The USBGuard software framework helps to protect your computer against rogue USB devices (a.k.a. BadUSB) by implementing basic whitelisting / blacklisting capabilities based on device attributes.


USB protection framework

So the main idea is you run a daemon on your system that tracks udev monitor system. The idea seams like the usb kill switch but in a more controlled manner. You can dynamical whitelist or/and blacklist devices and change the policy on such devices more easily. Also you can do all that via a graphical interface, although I will not cover it here.


Archlinux Notes

for archlinux users, you can find usbguard in AUR (Archlinux User Repository)

AUR : usbguard

or you can try my custom PKGBUILDs files


How to use usbguard

Generate Policy

The very first thing is to generate a policy with the current attached USB devices.

sudo usbguard generate-policy

Below is an example output, viewing my usb mouse & usb keyboard :

allow id 17ef:6019 serial "" name "Lenovo USB Optical Mouse" hash "WXaMPh5VWHf9avzB+Jpua45j3EZK6KeLRdPcoEwlWp4=" parent-hash "jEP/6WzviqdJ5VSeTUY8PatCNBKeaREvo2OqdplND/o=" via-port "3-4" with-interface 03:01:02

allow id 045e:00db serial "" name "Naturalxc2xae Ergonomic Keyboard 4000" hash "lwGc9o+VaG/2QGXpZ06/2yHMw+HL46K8Vij7Q65Qs80=" parent-hash "kv3v2+rnq9QvYI3/HbJ1EV9vdujZ0aVCQ/CGBYIkEB0=" via-port "1-1.5" with-interface { 03:01:01 03:00:00 }

The default policy for already attached USB devices are allow.


We can create our rules configuration file by:

sudo usbguard generate-policy > /etc/usbguard/rules.conf



starting and enabling usbguard service via systemd:

systemctl start usbguard.service

systemctl enable usbguard.service


List of Devices

You can view the list of attached USB devices and

sudo usbguard list-devices


Allow Device

Attaching a new USB device (in my case, my mobile phone):

$ sudo usbguard list-devices | grep -v allow

we will see that the default policy is to block it:

17: block id 12d1:107e serial "7BQDU17308005969" name "BLN-L21" hash "qq1bdaK0ETC/thKW9WXAwawhXlBAWUIowpMeOQNGQiM=" parent-hash "kv3v2+rnq9QvYI3/HbJ1EV9vdujZ0aVCQ/CGBYIkEB0=" via-port "2-1.5" with-interface { ff:ff:00 08:06:50 }

So we can allow it by:

sudo usbguard allow-device 17


sudo usbguard list-devices | grep BLN-L21

we can verify that is okay:

17: allow id 12d1:107e serial "7BQDU17308005969" name "BLN-L21" hash "qq1bdaK0ETC/thKW9WXAwawhXlBAWUIowpMeOQNGQiM=" parent-hash "kv3v2+rnq9QvYI3/HbJ1EV9vdujZ0aVCQ/CGBYIkEB0=" via-port "2-1.5" with-interface { ff:ff:00 08:06:50 }


Block USB on screen lock

The default policy, when you (or someone else) are inserting a new USB device is:

sudo usbguard get-parameter InsertedDevicePolicy

is to apply the default policy we have. There is a way to block or reject any new USB device when you have your screen locker on, as this may be a potential security attack on your system. In theory, you are inserting USB devices as you are working on your system, and not when you have your screen lock on.

I use slock as my primary screen locker via a keyboard shortcut. So the easiest way to dynamical change the default policy on usbguard is via a shell wrapper:

vim /usr/local/bin/slock

# ebal, Sun, 13 May 2018 10:07:53 +0300

# function to revert the policy
revert() {
  usbguard set-parameter InsertedDevicePolicy ${POLICY_UNLOCKED}

usbguard set-parameter InsertedDevicePolicy ${POLICY_LOCKED}


# shell function to revert reject policy

(you can find the same example on redhat’s blog post).