The US military has lifted its ban on portable thumb drives, according to media reports. STRATCOM (US Strategic Command) has rescinded its previous ban on portable data storage units that has been in effect since November 2008.
In 2008, the Agent.btz virus managed to spread through the DoD networks following what may have been the use of a corrupted flash drive that was inserted into a computer on the DoD network. STRATCOM claimed that the ban would help to defend against acts of foreign penetration, for the purposes of espionage or sabotage.
The lifting of the ban will not allow completely open use of portable data units. Rather, it will allow the use of “properly inventoried, government-procured and owned devices.“
Regarding the decision to the lift the ban, a cybersecurity specialist with STRATCOM recently told Danger Room, a publication of Wired, “Not much changed. StratCom simply does not have the support to enforce such a ban indefinitely.“
Vice Adm. Carl Mauney, deputy commander of U.S. Strategic Command, recently told Stars and Stripes “After extensive testing of mitigation measures, DOD decided to make this technology available again on a strictly controlled basis. Removable media use will be limited to mission-essential operations, and only after strict compliance requirements are met.“