Pentagon recalls USB sticks over virus fears

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Security concerns over global malware epidemic.

The Pentagon has banned the use of portable USB drives after fears that they are being used to propagate viruses.

Although no official statement has been released internal emails have shown that the Pentagon want all USB sticks distributed to employees to be returned. Last week US CERT warned of a major outbreak of malware targeting USB drives.

“For most organisations, completely banning USB flash drives would restrict productivity and efficiency of end users,” said Jason Holloway, sales manager Northern Europe for SanDisk

“USB drives are productivity-enhancing, but the risk of malware infection must be stopped with layers of security -- hardware-based USB encryption and password protection, and virus scanning on the drive itself.”

While refusing to confirm or deny the recall Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said that there was now a global spread of USB malware.

"This is not solely a department problem, this is not solely a government problem," Whitman told the Associated Press.

Virus propagation via USB stick is nothing new, indeed it is a throwback to the first virus propagation techniques where floppy discs were used to carry the code. But for an organization like the Pentagon to take such a drastic step then the spread of the code must be wider than usual.

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