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This article will show you how to disable autorun on windows operating systems to avoid worms and viruses like the conficker worm. Autorun not to be confused with Autoplay are mechanisms in windows operating systems that tell the USB flash drive, CD, DVD etc what to do after the drive and or CD/DVD are mounted in the system. This is the biggest vulnerability still left unpatched by Microsoft. Here is how it works so you can better understand why you should disable the autorun feature.

When you insert a USB flash drive and or a CD/DVD in your system a box like the one illustrated below will pop up asking you what you would like to do next.

autorun

The problem with this feature is that if there is a worm or virus on the drive or CD/DVD it will automatically launch without you knowing. You could disable the autoplay feature but that won’t prevent the worm or virus from launching because it uses autorun not autoplay. You could use a program called Tweak UI made by microsoft but it will not prevent worms, trojans and viruses from launching.

Well then how do I disable autorun you ask? Thanks to Nick Brown and Emin Atac there is a windows hack that can be applied to the autorun.inf file so that it acts like a configuration file from a windows 95 application. What the hack does is it tells the USB drive to look in a location in the registry for information on what to do when inserted in your computer. When it looks to the registry it will not find anything, therefore it will do nothing. It will not launch the virus or worm. The best thing about the hack is that autoplay will still function. Your CD/DVD’s will still launch the way they normally would.

If you would like to disable autorun on your system do the following:

  • Download autorun.reg
  • Save the file to your documents folder.
  • When the file is successfully downloaded to your system double click the file to add the contents to your registry.

Your registry should now have the information added as in the illustration below. Your system is now patched and safe-guarded from worms and viruses from USB flash drives and CD/DVD’s.

autorun regedit view

If you are wondering what exactly you are adding to the registry here are the contents of the file.

REGEDIT4
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\IniFileMapping\Autorun.inf]

@=”@SYS:DoesNotExist”

If you would like to make your own registry file with the above contents, just copy and paste the information into Notepad and save the file as a .reg file not a .txt file. After the file is saved just double click it to add the information to your registry.

This autorun registry hack should work on all windows systems. If for some reason it won’t work on your system delete the first line of the registry file REGEDIT4 and replace the text with this Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00.

If you happen to have a USB flash drive that uses U3 technology this hack may prevent the U3 applications from working. If this happens you can reverse the hack with this reverseautorun.reg registry file.

The reverseautorun.reg file contains the following information.

REGEDIT4
[-HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\IniFileMapping\Autorun.inf]