Under sustained attack from what is described as a rapidly spreading network worm, the U.S. army has banned the use of USB sticks, CDs, flash media cards, and all other removable data storage devices, according to internal e-mail messages seen by Wired's Noah Shachtman.
According to the article, service members have been ordered to "cease usage of all USB storage media until the USB devices are properly scanned and determined to be free of malware." Eventually, some government-approved drives will be allowed back under certain "mission-critical," but unclassified, circumstances. "Personally owned or non-authorized devices" are "prohibited" from here on out, according to the e-mails.
The USB device ban was handed down by the commander of U.S. Strategic Command and includes everything from external hard drives to "floppy disks. It takes effect immediately.
To make sure troops and military civilians are observing the suspension, government security teams "will be conducting daily scans and running custom scripts on NIPRNET and SIPRNET to ensure the commercial malware has not been introduced," an e-mail says. "Any discovery of malware will result in the opening of a security incident report and will be referred to the appropriate security officer for action."
The threat from malware that spreads via removable media has been on a steady rise with some estimates showing a 10 percent increase in detections this year.