US military outlaws use of portable media

10 Dec 2010

The US military is telling troops to stop using USB keys, USB drives, rewritable CDs and DVDs or any other digital device that allows them to carry data, or face court martial.

The move comes in the wake of the recent WikiLeaks scandal, which has seen 250,000 documents, including militarily sensitive documents on the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, published on the internet.

The order aimed at preventing the likely leaking of further documents to the web was issued last week by Maj Gen Richard Webber, commander of Air Force Network Operations.

The order directed military personnel to cease using removable media on all systems, servers and standalone machines residing on the Defense Department’s secret network SIPRNET.

According to Wired’s Danger Room, the order reads: “Unauthorised data transfers routinely occur on classified networks using removable media and are a method the insider threat uses to exploit classified information. To mitigate the activity, all Air Force organisations must immediately suspend all SIPRNET data transfer activities on removable media.”

At the onset of the WikiLeaks saga, Private First Class Bradley Manning downloaded hundreds of thousands of files from SIPRNET to a CD marked ‘Lady Gaga’ before handing the files over to WikiLeaks.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years