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Government bans use of flash drives and begins to collect them after undisclosed virus plagues computers

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.

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Peopleware is still the main problem
By rbfowler9lfc on 11/24/2008 6:13:43 AM , Rating: 5
What's the point on banning pen drives if people are still willing to pass on dozens of chain e-mails about missing children, ch3ap c1ali5 and deliberately clicking on links because their CitiFinancial account must be renewed or the IRS are after them?

Buy these people new brains, that'll solve the problem.

RE: Peopleware is still the main problem
By Regs on 11/24/2008 8:47:39 AM , Rating: 2
That's true. Though at least e mails and web browsing can be controlled and regulated internally. USB drives can travel from one station to the next and can spread a virus through mutliple hubs like wild fire.

RE: Peopleware is still the main problem
By foolsgambit11 on 11/24/2008 9:37:29 AM , Rating: 2
And, although it was already against the rules to use them on both networks, USB drives could transmit the virus from the unclassified to the classified network. Just because it's against the rules and incredibly dangerous doesn't mean somebody won't do it. But if they don't have access to the thumb drive in the beginning, they can't do something stupid.

RE: Peopleware is still the main problem
By Spivonious on 11/24/2008 9:57:35 AM , Rating: 2
Didn't the antivirus software scan the flash drive when it was inserted? I don't understand how a virus could make its way into the Pentagon networks.

RE: Peopleware is still the main problem
By retrospooty on 11/24/2008 11:02:37 AM , Rating: 2
A lot of AV software is crap. They don't all always work - especially if its a relatively new Virus. Also, alot of times they will detect the Virus, but be unable to clean it.

RE: Peopleware is still the main problem
By Spuke on 11/24/08, Rating: 0
RE: Peopleware is still the main problem
By foolsgambit11 on 11/24/2008 3:18:22 PM , Rating: 2
I'm pretty sure (not 100%, but it seems to me I remember it this way) that classified networks don't have AV software on them. The assumption being that you can't get a virus if every user and every program is completely trusted....

By rdeegvainl on 11/24/2008 3:35:02 PM , Rating: 2
im pretty sure, YOU ARE WRONG

By Spuke on 11/24/2008 3:38:26 PM , Rating: 2
It's not just classified networks.

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