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Monday, 24 June 2013 09:43

Pentagon dilutes flash drive policy

Written by Nick Farrell

It is now pointless 

You would think that the government which claims it is snooping on all its citizens for their own security, might be pretty good on its network security. Sure enough the US Pentagon has some cracking rules on the distribution of material on Flash drives and where you can plug them in.

But according to Reuters, the pentagon also has a huge list of exceptions which renders all the rules moot. Officials say waivers go to people who update software and run helpdesk services for the Pentagon's vast computer network and are needed to run the system efficiently. But any security analyst will point out that the exceptions to policies barring the use of such devices make it a doddle for rogue employees to remove sensitive documents.

The US government's handling of sensitive documents has come under scrutiny since Edward Snowden, a systems administrator for a contractor with the National Security Administration, copied classified materials at a Hawaii installation and leaked them to the news media. Snowden used a simple flash drive to store the materials, according to a government source close to the investigation.

Exceptions are granted to systems administrators who install software and manage helpdesk services for the department's millions of computers and nearly 600,000 mobile devices in some 15,000 networked groups. Lieutenant Colonel Damien Pickart, a Pentagon spokesman, said the department was unable to specify how many exceptions had been given because authority is delegated to smaller units within the service and is not tracked at the department level.

Given the size of the system, it could be in the thousands, he said.

Nick Farrell

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