The US DoD has tentatively rescinded its universal ban on USB devices issued over a year ago, reintroducing them under controlled conditions and for limited use, as reported by Stars and Stripes. The DoD introduced the draconian ban to prevent malicious software from infecting defence networks. However it seems that the combat need to transfer data quickly and conveniently has trumped any blanket security veto. The new devices can only be connected to military networks, and used for data transfer when network resources are unavailable or overloaded. In short, as a method of last resort.
According to Defence News, the drives are designed so that they can be tracked by system administrators, are password-protected, and store information in encrypted form. Additional features include on-board anti-virus software and security rules that prevent copying or forwarding of certain information from the drive or saving unapproved information on the drive.
The move may seem somewhat untimely since suppliers of secure USB sticks are still reeling from a vulnerability that permits password-protection to be bypassed. Wired reported on the announcement as saying that both hackers and troops will be rejoicing.