After thousands of classified military documents and several military videos were leaked to WikiLeaks earlier this year, the military has had enough of flash drives.
Directives have been sent out to all military branches banning the use of portable media devices on military computers that hold classified information.
The directives began shortly after WikiLeaks began posting the 250,000 classified documents from U.S. embassies and diplomats. The U.S. Department of Defense sent out a memo on Nov. 28 outlining a ban on any removable media on any classified military computers.
On Dec. 3, Major General Richard Webber, commander of Air Force Operations issued the “Cyber Control Order”, which directs airmen to “immediately cease use of removable media on all systems, servers, and stand alone machines residing on SIPRNET,” the Defense Department’s secret network, reported Wired. The Air Force described removable media as thumb drives, DVDs, CDs and similar devices.
Similar directives have also been sent out to the military’s other branches.
Pfc. Bradley Manning says he downloaded hundreds of thousands of classified files from SIPRNET to a CD marked “Lady Gaga”, which he then gave to WikiLeaks.
The order acknowledges that the ban will make transferring files more challenging, but military personnel who do not comply may be punished accordingly.
“Users will experience difficulty with transferring data for operational needs which could impede timeliness on mission execution,” the document states. But “military personnel who do not comply … may be punished under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.” Article 92 is the armed forces’ regulation covering failure to obey orders and dereliction of duty.
Two years ago the Pentagon temporarily banned portable drives and disks after a worm infected hundreds of thousands of military computers. The ban was lifted this past February, after the cleanup occurred. This was when Manning says he began giving information away to WikiLeaks.
The National Security Agency is now looking into additional methods to limit insider threats. Also, Darpa, the Pentagon’s research division, has begun an effort to “greatly increase the accuracy, rate and speed with which insider threats are detected…within government and military interest networks,” Wired reported.