What is Plug and Play
Plug and Play is the feature that allows you to connect a device to a computer and work directly. For example connecting a mouse to a computer, a USB memory, plugging in a keyboard … This makes the task much easier, since we do not need to install drivers or configure anything. Basically it is to connect and we can use it without further ado.
This is what we comment on the balance in terms of security. On the one hand we have the possibility of connecting those devices and that they work quickly without having to configure anything, but on the other hand we can find certain security issues there may be.
The Plug and Play term It is present in a large number of computers and peripheral devices. It has become very normal. A few years ago it was not uncommon to have to install the drivers that came on a CD so that a new mouse that we had bought would work. Now you just have to connect it to the USB port and Windows quickly configures it and in a matter of seconds we can use it.
This technology has greatly facilitated the task of being able to connect devices, exchange data and information. It avoids the need to carry out complicated configurations and download the drivers, since all this process is carried out automatically by the system as soon as the device is plugged in via USB.
Why it can be dangerous
But why can this be a danger? In RedesZone we have seen cases of vulnerabilities that affect the software of certain devices. We have seen it in keyboards and mice, for example. By connecting them in Windows, you automatically install software that has security flaws and can be exploited by a potential attacker.
Therefore, through those devices that have been installed through Plug and Play without us doing anything, the operating system itself can put us at risk. It is true that these vulnerabilities usually receive patches, but they do not always happen and we may have obsolete appliances.
That is why Plug and Play technology can sometimes be a major security problem. Some users may choose to find a way to prevent the system from installing the software for that mouse or keyboard that we are connecting and configuring them automatically. So we can install it manually and avoid complications.
How to disable Plug and Play and not install software
Can we configure Windows to disable Plug and Play? The answer is yes. However, it must be borne in mind that this will prevent it from automatically configuring the devices that we connect. It is something that must be clear, because it could have negative consequences in the future. Of course, we can always reverse the situation.
In order to disable Plug and Play in Windows and not automatically install software from the devices that we connect, we can use the Registry Editor of the system. To do this we have to go to Start, look for Registry Editor and run it.
Once inside we have to go to the path EquipoHKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionDevice Installer. There we have to create a new 32-bit DWORD value key. We have to give that key the name of DisableCoInstallers and value 1. It would be as we can see in the image below.
From that moment on, once we have created this New password and it is enabled, Windows will not install any driver when we connect any device by USB. For example, if we plug in a keyboard or mouse, it will not do anything directly.
In the event that by mistake we connect a device that has any software level vulnerabilityAs we have seen that it may occur on isolated occasions, we would not have that security problem as it is not configured automatically.
Logically, it must be borne in mind that these devices will not work until they are let’s configure manually. If we go back to the example of that mouse or keyboard that we plugged in, we would have to manually download its drivers and install them on the system. It is a slower process, but if we talk strictly about security it is better in that sense.
What if we want to return to the previous state and have Windows automatically configure the Plug and Play devices? The process is very simple and we will only have to follow the same steps that we have explained, but this time give a value of 0 to that key that we have created or directly delete it. The operating system would install the software as soon as we connect any device that is compatible.
Conclusions to disable or not Plug and Play in Windows
So is it really useful to disable Plug and Play in Windows? For home users in general, it is not something that really has an important utility. It will not contribute much even if we talk about security, but it will bring difficulties to make certain devices work normally.
Our advice is only to do this when we know that we are going to install a device that has a vulnerability at the software level and we do not want the system to install it. This is interesting to be ourselves, manually, who install the drivers that we know have been patched or that they will not pose any risk.
Therefore, although disable Plug and Play In Windows, to avoid installing the device drivers, it is something very simple both to apply and to deactivate, we must always bear in mind that these drivers will have to be installed manually. It is an added difficulty, although on the other side of the scale is the improvement of security to avoid certain risks associated with possible vulnerable software.