The online edition of the computer magazine Wired has published an article three days ago about a ban of removable media by the US Military to stop a computer worm from spreading on their computer networks.
The ban, which was issued directly by the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, applies to both the secret SIPR and unclassified NIPR networks and includes all removable media including removable hard drives, USB sticks, recordable disks and even floppy disks.
The computer worm that led to the ban has been identified as a virus called Agent.btz which is a variation of the SillyFDC worm which spreads by copying itself on removable media that gets connected to the computer system.
The article reveals several interesting - some would say scary - insights. The computer worm known as Agent.btz is known by most antivirus databases for months at least which leads to the conclusion that the worm is either a variant that cannot be detected yet or that the US Military is running ineffective antivirus software on parts of their computer networks and individual systems.
The second interesting tidbit is that it seems that personally owned, that is non-authorized devices have not been banned in the past.
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.
One could argue that non-authorized devices are automatically banned but the system does not seem to have been that effective if a computer worm relying on removable media has spread across the networks.
Now imagine if this would not be just a random well known virus but a planned attack by sophisticated computer hackers knowing what they were doing. Scary? Yes.
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.