Military Aims to Prevent Future Data Dumps

By Susan J. Campbell December 10, 2010

While it may be too late to stop WikiLeaks from publishing thousands more classified documents that have been taken from the secret network of the Pentagon, the U.S. military is commanding its troops to stop using CDs, DVDs, thumb drives and every other form of removable media. A failure to comply, according to a CNN report, could result in a court martial.

Dubbed the “Cyber Control Order,” this command was issued on Dec. 3, by Maj. Gen. Richard Webber, commander of Air Force Network Operations. This order 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, as posted on CNN.

Other branches of the military have sent out similar directives.

The order includes information that unauthorized data transfers routinely occur on classified networks using removable media and are a method the insider threat uses to exploit classified information. The Air Force is aiming to mitigate the activity and has immediately suspended all SIPRNET data transfer activities on removable media.

This is just one of the moves the Defense Department is making to prevent further disclosures of secret information in the wake of the WikiLeaks document dumps.

One Pfc. Bradley Manning admits that he downloaded hundreds of thousands of files from SIPRNET to a CD labeled “Lady Gaga” before giving the files to WikiLeaks. To prevent this from happening again, an internal review in August suggested that the Pentagon disable all classified computers’ ability to write to removable media.

At present, roughly 60 percent of military machines are connected to a Host Based Security System, which has a main purpose of searching for anomalous behavior. With the addition of this desk-banning order, security should be improved.

It is true that this ban will make life a little harder for some troops. Users will experience difficulty in transferring data for operational needs that could interfere with the timeliness of the execution of a mission. That is not grounds for disregarding the order, however, and those that do will face punishment.

Even with this order, insiders report that the steps take to prevent another bug secret data dump have been surprisingly small. Many have referred to it as “business as usual,” claiming a brain cell hasn’t been turned on the problem.


Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TechZone360 and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

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