updated 11:40 am EST, Fri December 10, 2010
US DoD bans removable storage in Wikileaks fight
The US Department of Defense has banned all forms of removable digital storage from being used on its computers in a bid to stop Wikileaks and similar exposures, an ironic leak from the military has revealed. A December 3 "Cyber Control Order" from Air Force Network Operations commander Major General Richard Webber has demanded that staff "immediately cease use" of writable CDs, DVDs, USB flash drives and other media for any system connected to SIPRNET, its secret system. Wired heard it was a direct response to an August review following the first wave of major leaks, which was made possible by PFC Brad Manning burning documents to a CD.
The DoD was knowingly making the cutoff in spite of many systems either being connected only at a basic level to the network and sometimes not connected at all. Tasks might take longer, but the consequence might be facing a dereliction of duty charge, the memo warned. Troops have already complained since it can now make moving files difficult or impossible if a system is isolated. Some on regular connections haven't noticed a practical difference.
Backups will still be an option as well in top secret Secure Compartmented Information Facilities, where the information is unlikely to get outside regardless of whether it leaves a computer.
Officials haven't commented on the authenticity of the claims, although SIRPNET has previously had temporary restrictions and would be likely to clamp down for incidents such as the Wikileaks revelations, where hundreds of thousands of documents and cables were made public all at once. Attempts have been made to shut down Wikileaks through pressure on site hosts like Amazon and payment services like PayPal, but Openleaks and other competitors are threatening to set up soon.