I have a USB flash drive that is packed with free and portable tools that can help me detect and clean virus from a computer. It is small for me to carry it along and convenient, just plug in and I can run my tools. However, there’s a big problem when I use the tools from my USB flash drive. Since a USB flash drive can be written, virus usually copies itself to the USB flash drive and creates an autorun.inf that has instructions to run the virus whenever it is open from Explorer. Not only that, there are some very destructive virus such as JambanMu / Almanahe that embeds itself to all executable files and corrupting them.
Then, there are times when the user installed crappy antivirus software that automatically deletes my virus removal tools thinking it is a threat. Some examples are Brontok-Washer being flagged as Brontok virus, CaSIR as FakeAV and etc. Sometimes I really wonder why the antivirus program can be so “smart” in detecting my virus removal tools as threat and automatically deleting them but the REAL virus is still inside the computer?
I could burn the virus removal tools in a CD-RW but it is slow and troublesome. So I need a USB flash drive that has a physical write protect switch like in floppy disks which only allows read-only.
I tried searching in a few computer shops but failed to find any USB flash drive with write protect switch. I remembered that I have a SanDisk Cruzer Titanium 4GB U3 USB flash drive and perhaps I could remove the U3 LaunchPad and install my tools into the virtual CD drive.
Normal USB flash drives only creates 1 drive letter but for U3 smart drive, it has 2 drives. One is the normal storage drive where you can copy and delete any files in it and the other one is an emulated CD drive which is read-only. As you can see at the image below, C drive is my computer hard drive, D is internal DVD-RW drive, E and F drive comes from the U3 smart drive.
In a normal U3 smart drive, when you plug it in a computer with autorun enabled, it will automatically run U3 LaunchPad. The LaunchPad is launched from the emulated virtual CD drive. So I was thinking if I could somehow remove or uninstall the U3 LaunchPad and replace it with my virus removal tools, that’d solve the problem. I did a little research and found that it is possible to hack the U3 LaunchPad.
1. Download Universal Customizer provided by Hak5, a reputable group of hardcore geeks.
2. Extract the downloaded Universal_Customizer.zip file.
3. Copy all your virus removal tools or anything you want to U3CUSTOM folder in Universal_Customizer.
4. Run ISOCreate.cmd from Universal_Customizer folder and it will create an ISO image from the files in the U3CUSTOM folder. When done, press any key to continue to close the command prompt window.
5. Now run Universal_Customizer.exe and insert your U3 USB flash drive.
6. U3 Customizer should detect your U3 smart drive. Select Accept to accept the agreement and click the Next button.
7. Make sure that all U3 Smart applications, and any applications that access your U3 smart drive are closed. Also, do not eject or shut down the computer before the process is complete. Click Next button again.
8. Enter a password twice and click Next. The U3 Customizer will backup all your data on your U3 smart drive, format your U3 smart drive, customzie your version of the U3 CD-ROM and finally restore your data.
9. Click Done button. You have to remove and re-insert your U3 smart drive for the settings to take effect.
Voila! The U3 CD-ROM drive now contains all the files that you copied to the U3CUSTOM folder and the annoying useless U3 LaunchPad has been uninstalled. Now I don’t need to rush to every computer shop to look for a USB flash drive with write protect switch because I already have a pendrive with read-only protection.