NSA on the Flash-Media Hunt

Tagged: flash drive, Technology
Source: nextgov.com - Read the full article
Posted: 6 years 27 weeks ago

Shh, the National Security Agency has developed a software tool that detects thumb drives or other flash media connected to a network, and any federal agency can get a copy free -- no box tops or coupons required.

The NSA provided a brief tantalizing description of its USBDetect 3.0 Computer Network Defense Tool in the unclassified part of its fiscal 2011 budget request.

The software, the NSA said, provides "network administrators and system security officials with an automated capability to detect the introduction of USB storage devices into their networks. This tool closes potential security vulnerabilities; a definite success story in the pursuit of the [Defense Department] and NSA protect information technology system strategic goals."

I figured the NSA might like to tell a digit-stained wretch more about this success story, but alas, the agency declined to unburden itself. An image therapist up at Fort Meade, Md., told me what I found in the budget documents about the detection tool is all the info NSA cares to share with me -- or the rest of the world.

USBDetect evidently has been around for almost two years and has been successfully used by the Homeland Security Department to sniff out flash media gizmos, according to a report on the use of thumb drives and similar gadgets on DHS networks.

The Defense Information Systems Agency makes a brief mention of the USB detection software on its information assurance Web page but buries the details behind a firewall.

I have a hunch that a bunch of other agencies use the detection software, and so before you stick a thumb drive into your government computer to copy a 100 slide PowerPoint brief, beware that Software Big Brother may be watching.