Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hackers, Troops Rejoice: Pentagon Lifts Thumb-Drive Ban

Soldiers, you are now cleared to use your thumb drives again. U.S. Strategic Command has lifted its ban on the tiny drives, memory sticks, CDs and other “removable flash media” on military networks.

The repeal, first reported by, may be good news for troops, who depend on the drives to move data in bandwidth-starved locations. But it may be good news for hackers, too. The original network security concerns which prompted the ban haven’t really been addressed, one Strategic Command cyber defense specialist tells Danger Room: “Not much changed. StratCom simply does not have the support to enforce such a ban indefinitely.”

StratCom prohibited the drives’ use back in November 2008 after the Agent.btz virus began working its way through military networks. A variation of the “SillyFDC” worm, Agent.btz spreads by copying itself from thumb drive to computer and back again. Once on a PC, “it automatically downloads code from another location. And that code could be pretty much anything,” iDefense computer security expert Ryan Olson said at the time.

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