Pentagon officials admitted an undisclosed virus has hit some Pentagon and DoD computers, which has forced officials to confiscate flash drives and ban the use of external hardware drives until further notice.
"We are aware of a global virus for which there are some public alerts on," said Pentagon spokesperson Bryan Whitman. "And we've seen some of this on our networks. And we're taking steps to identify and mitigate the virus."
Pentagon officials did not disclose which virus has infected government computers, or whether or not it has spread to classified computer networks.
The Pentagon computer network is made up of around 17,000 networks and seven million individual computers. Pentagon computers are scanned for weaknesses millions of times each day by foreign computer users, Pentagon officials admitted.
A November 17 Air Force internal memo issued the "immediate suspension" of flash drives used on any computer hooked up to both classified and unclassified computer networks. The mandatory collection of USB flash drives is underway, with the possibility the drives will not be returned to their owners after the security check is complete.
China has been ruled out as the source of the Pentagon's latest security issue; although it's possible Russia or attackers from another Eastern European nation are involved in the security breach.
There's a growing concern of foreign-based computer attackers, especially from Chinese and Russian attackers, who have reportedly attacked computers in the United States, United Kingdom, France, and other nations. The attacks normally are to help gain access to classified information and to test government security in an effort to better coordinate larger scale attacks in the future.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also has created new rules for DHS employees who attempt to use portable storage devices and flash drives connected to work computers.