DOD disables file sharing service due to 'security risks'

AMRDEC SAFE portal had been to handle the transfer of non-classified materials.

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The US Department of Defense has disabled access this month to a file sharing service used by its army aviation and missile research centers, citing security issues.

The disabled service is named AMRDEC SAFE, which stands for the US Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) Safe Access File Exchange (SAFE).

According to its website, AMRDEC is "the Army's focal point for providing research, development, and engineering technology and services for aviation and missile platforms across the life cycle."

The agency said that AMRDEC SAFE was initially developed to facilitate the exchange of large data files between AMRDEC and its industry partners and customers.

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The service has been available since the start of the 2010s, and has been used to handle the transfer of non-classified materials. It was characterized as an FTP-based system and used a password-protected web-based panel for file uploads and downloads.

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Image: US Air Force

But without any prior warning, DOD officials have shut down the service earlier this month.

"The AMRDEC SAFE site was taken offline Nov. 1 as a preventative measure after government-internal agencies identified potential security risks," an AMRDEC spokesperson told ZDNet in an email.

In a statement on the AMRDEC SAFE portal, the agency said it was "uncertain if the site will be reinstated."

"AMRDEC does not manage any other secure file transfer sites, nor are we aware of any other government-run sites. In the interim, IT and mission-related questions should be directed to your specific organization to determine alternative methods for secure file exchange," said AMRDEC officials.

"Obviously, we've had to make some adjustments since SAFE was disabled, but AMRDEC remains fully mission capable," the AMRDEC spokesperson told us. "AMRDEC SAFE was never developed, intended or resourced for widespread use; it was initially developed to facilitate the exchange of large data files between AMRDEC and its industry partners and customers. There is no established timeline for the restoration or sunset of SAFE. We will continue to work with higher headquarters to determine the appropriate way ahead."

The SAFE service was not particularly liked among DOD contractors, due to its sluggish and tendency to crash [1, 2], but its shutdown was noticed almost immediately.

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