Feeds

US Army bans USB devices to contain worm

Unfriendly fire

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The US Army has reportedly suspended the use of USB and removable media devices after a worm began spreading across its network.

Use of USB drives, floppy discs, CDs, external drives, flash media cards and all other removable media devices has been placed on hold in order to contain the spread of Agent-BTZ, a variant of the SillyFDC worm, Wired reports. Such a temporary ban would cause inconvenience in any organisation, but for the US military it's an even more serious problem because in many locations email or online transfer of files are not viable options.

The clampdown applies to both the the secret SIPR and unclassified NIPR networks, according to internal Army emails cited by Wired. Variants of the the SillyFDC worm are capable of spreading over networks or removable media devices, infecting any Windows PC they are plugged into or any external drive connected to an infected device, for example. The malware is programmed to download secondary infectious code from the internet, establishing a conduit that might be used to download keylogging software, password-siphoning spyware or botnet agents onto compromised machines.

Army top brass are using the suspension to clamp down on the use of personally-owned or otherwise unauthorised devices on US military PCs. Government-approved drives will reportedly be allowed back onto the network soon, but not before they've been scanned and cleared of malware infection. Government security teams will be running custom scripts and daily scans for the dual purposes of making sure the ban is enforced and detecting the spread of other forms of malware, Wired adds.

The ban, which gets in the way of troops' normal work, might seem like over-kill, but without knowing the full specifics of the extent of the infection it's probably a little unfair to label it as such.

However, security experts say that actions short of an outright ban may be appropriate for organisations facing similar problems.

"We would advise that users disable the autorun facility of Windows so removable devices such as USB keys and CD ROMs do not automatically launch when they are attached to a PC," explained Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.

"Any storage device which is attached to a computer should be checked for virus and other malware before use. Floppy disks, CD ROMs, USB keys, external hard drives and other devices are all capable of carrying malicious code which could infect the computers of innocent users. Companies can also use technology to help prevent staff from accessing unauthorised devices like USB drives," he added. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.