Can technology counteract the determined, the deceitful and the dimwitted? This is a question that has yet to be answered as the Army and other branches look at resuming the use of flash media on military networks.
Recently, the Joint Task Force (JTF) opened the door for allowing the resumption of stored media technology via USB ports. This would reverse the policy change that came into effect approximately a year ago after network infiltration by malicious software residing on a flash device. Several Army organizations are taking a hard look at protecting its networks before allowing the resumption of flash use. Specifically, they want to ensure that only government approved or provided media can be used and that systems and networks are configured to mitigate flash-borne threats effectively.
The banning of flash media, especially the popular and easy to use “thumb drives,” has caused significant inconvenience among those who came to rely on the technology for the fast and easy movement of data between devices. Resumption of flash use will increase efficiency, and in a way increase security by reducing or eliminating the use of even riskier workarounds devised to transport data.
The question is, will all the safeguards in the eventual policy be enough? Portable media has been in use for a long time and the military had a wide ranging set of rules and regulations governing its use. The incidents that prompted the ban would seem to prove that those business practices were not enough. Many technical experts will tell you that technology alone can offer adequate protection. Yet technology is under constant assault from three threats – all human.