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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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Banned USB?
By DjiSaSie on 11/24/2008 6:35:00 AM , Rating: 4
At our office, we have banned UFD long time ago ... Why it took a long time for a "Military headquarters" to do the same?
Maybe because of a super virus, that completely undetectable on access, a super rootkits?

RE: Banned USB?
By wideout on 11/24/2008 7:40:14 AM , Rating: 2
I work for a different branch of the government, Department of the Treasury, and they just recently allowed the use of USB Flash Drives. Though, their concern was more about encryption of data put on the flash drive as opposed to viruses.

If the US Government really wanted to embrace USB Flash Drive technology, they should severely punish anybody who misuses it (spreads a virus, looses the drive, etc). I mean, that is pretty much how they pretty much solved stupid chain e-mails and reply to all e-mails inside the government. If you enforce a punishment, either the stupid people will be fired, leave, or learn to behave.

RE: Banned USB?
By jonmcc33 on 11/24/2008 7:59:45 AM , Rating: 4
They should lock their systems down with Group Policy and only allow authorized users with issued USB flash drives to use them. That would resolve this issue.

When I was in the USAF nobody was allowed to plug their personal PDA's in at all or anything. Local admin rights were removed from everyone so nobody could install hardware or software.

Of course thumb drives weren't as cheap or popular back then either.

RE: Banned USB?
By Alexstarfire on 11/24/2008 1:30:55 PM , Rating: 2
But my phone doesn't need to be installed to use it as a mass storage device. I think the same can be said about flash drives too.

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay

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