Worm Attack Causes Army To Ban USB Drives

Dennis Faas's picture

In what's being described as a sustained attack from a rapidly spreading network worm, the U.S. army has reportedly banned the use of USB sticks, CDs, flash media cards, and all other removable data storage devices in attempts to prevent infections from spreading any further. (Source: wired.com)

According to an internal army email, the ban comes from the commander of U.S. Strategic Command and applies to both the secret SIPR and unclassified NIPR United States Department of Defense networks. The suspension order is supposed to take effect "immediately" and similar notices went out to other branches of the armed services.

The military relies heavily on the use of removable storage devices to store information since bandwidth is often scarce out in the field and networks are often considered unreliable.

What's causing the problem?

It is speculated that a virus named Agent.btz is the culprit. It's a variation of the "SillyFDC" worm which spreads by copying itself to thumb drives. When the drive or disk is plugged into a second computer, the worm replicates itself again --- on the PC. Once installed it automatically downloads malicious software code from the Internet. (Source: f-secure.com)

Eventually, some government-approved drives will be allowed back under certain "mission-critical," but unclassified circumstances.

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