Military expands ban of external media on secure networks
STUTTGART, Germany — Troops are now forbidden from using all removable media on the military’s secret network known as SIPRNET, after the military added DVDs, CDs, memory cards and portable hard drives to the list of prohibited items.
The newly formed U.S. Cyber Command released a special tasking order on Nov. 27 that directed each of the services to establish regulations prohibiting the use of such media. Thumb drives were already banned from use.
Under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, violators of the policy could face court-martial for putting removable media into Secret Internet Protocol Router Network computers. Article 92 is failure to obey an order or regulation.
“The use of removable media on the SIPRNET network is of great concern to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and US CYBERCOM,” according to a U.S. Marine Corps administrative message released to troops Wednesday.
Downloading to all forms of removable media has been banned by OSD-level policy, except under special U.S. Cyber Command-approved exceptions, the directive stated.
The new rules come at a time of intense concern about the security of military networks and the information they contain.
Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was charged in July with transferring classified data to a personal computer and unauthorized access to SIPRNET, is suspected of handing over thousands of files to the website WikiLeaks.
The 23-year-old reportedly used Lady Gaga-labeled CDs to download the documents, which WikiLeaks then dispersed to various news organizations in a series of data dumps.
As part of the new directive, commands are instructed to disable the ability of SIPRNET computers to download information onto removable media. However, commands can get special exemptions to retain some computers with downloading capacity, the Marine directive stated. Authorized SIPRNET users now must get special approval before downloading information to removable media, which wasn’t the case before.
However, under special circumstances users can still insert read-only removable media that cannot be downloaded onto, according to the policy.