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Defense Department to partially lift flash drive ban

Authorized individuals will be able to use USB thumb drives that are owned by the government and necessary for mission-critical functions, U.S. Navy CIO says.

U.S. Navy

The U.S. Department of Defense ban on USB thumb drives instated nearly a year ago will eventually be partially lifted to allow authorized people to use official flash drives for mission-critical functions, according to a top military official.

"In the future, we expect that a government-owned and procured USB flash media, that is uniquely and electronically identifiable for use in support of mission-essential functions on DoD networks, will be permitted for use by authorized individuals," Robert Carey, chief information officer for the Department of the Navy, wrote in his blog recently.

"We are working on upgraded antivirus and malware detection, alert and eradication capabilities, as well as implementation of controls to deny network access to unauthorized USB flash media and revised operating procedures for scanning and cleaning flash media," he wrote. "The bottom line is, the days of using personally owned flash media or using flash media collected at conferences or trade shows are long gone."

Thumb drives, CDs, and other removable storage devices were banned last November after military computers became infected with a worm that was partially spread by thumb drives.

The thumb drive ban has been inconvenient for military personnel who used them for carrying tech manuals, medical records of wounded troops, mission plans, and other types of important information, according to DefenseNews.