Disable Autoplay / Autorun

One of the highly insecure features of Windows is the way it can automatically execute files on a CD or USB device when that CD is inserted or the device is plugged in.

An example of this computer attack: someone comes up to you at an Internet cafe and says "can I plug my iPod into your laptop to charge it?" The iPod is plugged in, a file is automatically executed, and your computer has been successfully attacked. (Note this is generally only a problem with Windows, not with Linux or Mac OS X.)

Another example of this kind of computer attack is when a record company used it to install spyware on people's computers.

The most basic method to prevent autoplay is to hold down the Shift key when inserting a CD or attaching a device. It is not always easy to remember to do this though.

To permanently disable Autoplay on Windows NT (including XP), you can edit the Windows Registry with the following steps. These can be found on Chami.com, but I have added screenshots to the steps. If you are using Windows 95, see the Chami.com page for instruction on disabling Autoplay on Windows 95.

1. Go to the Start Menu and click on "Run", as highlighted in the image below:

Windows Start menu, choose Run

2. In the Run box that appears, type regedit as shown below:

Type regedit

3. Then navigate through the Registry to the following location HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE —> System —> CurrentControlSet —> Services —> Cdrom. Be sure you navigate to the exact place as described. Making mistakes in the Windows Registry can break your Windows installation.

Navigating through the Windows Registry:
Navigating through the Registry

Finding Cdrom setting, and double click on Autorun in the right panel of the window as highlighted below:
Regedit Cdrom

4. In the box that appears, set Autoplay from 1 to 0 as shown below:

Disabling Autoplay in the Windows Registry

5. You may have to restart your computer after modifying the Registry.