Refraining from USB Usage Vital to Network Security

Story Number: NNS100408-14Release Date: 4/8/2010 2:51:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Christopher Koons, USS Wasp Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Because of the highly sensitive nature of the electronic domain, the Navy is reiterating its policy of banning the plugging of Universal Serial Bus (USB) devices into government-owned computers.

"The ban on USB devices is a Navy-wide policy that everyone must abide by," said Chief Information Systems Technician (SW/AW) Gary Stevenson, USS Wasp's (LHD 1) automated data processing (ADP) leading chief petty officer. "The risks you take by not following the rules are not worth the damage that can be caused by possible virus infections."

USB devices such as media cards, thumb drives, cell phones, IPODs, MP3 players, and others are all banned from being plugged into Navy computers due to the security vulnerabilities that they can introduce into a network.

"These devices are banned because of our inability to track how they are being used," said Information Systems Technician 1st Class (SW/AW) Michael Williams, Wasp's information assurance manager. "If they're not government-issue, we don't know if they are carrying viruses, malware, malicious codes, etc. If you plug in your personal thumb drive and it has a virus or other damaging elements, it could infect the entire ship's network."

Once a virus has been introduced into the network, it can spread rapidly to every computer on board.

To ensure that such a scenario never happens, Sailors must not only refrain from using USB devices themselves but also watch over their shipmates as well.

The personal penalties for disobeying the rules regarding USB devices are high.

"If you get caught violating the USB policy, you have to sign a counseling statement as well has have your account access removed for 30 days," said Williams.

Because of all these factors, strictly obeying the Navy's policy on USB devices is in the best interest of every Sailor.

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