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Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Blocking USB Devices and Removable Media

Create a GPO
The first step is to open Group Policy Management and create a new GPO.

I typically like to create 2 GPO's One for blocking read access and one for blocking write access.

By Creating 2 separate policies I can apply each individually so I can allow read access for certain groups of users while blocking write access and I can apply both policies to other groups so I can block all access.

The policy we are about to create is user based This means that it will apply to the users and not the computer. This means we can block access as need for normal users on a computer while still allowing access for other users like say IT (ourselves) so we can still do our thing without any issues.

These policies apply to all forms of removable media not just USB based media. therefor you can use them to block other media access such as CD and DVD access as well.

Set the Desired Policy Items
In your GPO browse to the following location.

User Configuration >> Policies >> Administrative Templates >> System >> Removable Storage Access

If you look through the list of options you will see 2 choices for each media type. One choice when enabled blocks write access and the other choice blocks read access.

In my attached image i show an example of blocking all read access.

Therefor to block read access to each of these media types simply enable the deny read access item for each. 
If you want to block write access enable the block write access options. 
If you want to block both the enable both options.

Its really that simple.


For some reason Digital cameras require both read and write access. So if you have users that need access to a digital camera directly through the camera's USB connection they will need read and write access. Even if all they want to do is read files from the camera. However if you remove the memory card from the camera and read it with a memory card reader it only needs read access as expected.

Apply the GPO
Now that you have created your GPO Policy (or policies if you want more granular control like I did) all that you need to do is apply the GPO to the Users you wish to restrict removable media for by assigning it the correct OU's.

Once applied simply wait for the policy to update on the users computer or run "gpupdate /force" to speed things up and test it out.

This is a simple and reliable way to control user access to removable media for users with the bonus of still being able to allow yourself or other special users of your choice the ability to use that same removable media ... able-media

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