In Wake of WikiLeaks, Military Bans Removable Media

Ryan Whitwam

Wired is reporting that the Air Force commander of Network Operations has issued a new directive seemingly in response to the leak of classified data to whistleblower site WikiLeaks.  The Dec. 3 “ Cyber Control Order ” calls on the Air Force to “immediately cease use of removable media on all systems, servers, and stand alone machines residing on SIPRNET." SPIRNET is the Defense Department's secure computer network.

The data being released by WikiLeaks was taken from SPIRNET by Pfc. Bradley Manning, who smuggled them out on a CD labeled "Lady Gaga". The new directive seeks to keep this from happening again. However, this is far from the first attempt to seal leaks. In August the Pentagon disabled the ability of all classified computers to write to removable media.

Critics suspect that the new restrictions will make the job harder for service members. Many PCs are not networked for security reasons, and internet access can be spotty in various places. Thumb drives and discs are often the only good way to move data around. We would also like to point out that even a machine's hard drive is removable, if you know your way around a PC. Taking data might be less surreptitious, but we don't see how it can be stopped altogether.

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