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Marine Corps Bans Memory Sticks, Mobile Storage Devices

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --- By direction of the Marine Corps Network Operations and Security Center, Marine Corps Enterprise Network Operational Directive 293-08, all MCEN users must immediately suspend the use of Removable Secondary Storage Media Devices, such as memory sticks, thumb drives and camera flash memory cards on all classified and unclassified Marine Corps networks.

“What has happened is that there is a virus that has been spread through these types of mediums — the small ones that you move from machine to machine and share from person to person — and because of the virus, these have been a cause of concern on the MCEN,” said Shirley Russell, the information assurance manager for the Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command’s G-6. “So for the time being, until they can come up with a fix for this virus, they just don’t want to take any chances and they want all that media pulled off immediately.”

According to the reference, RSSMDs are storage media devices that can be connected to a workstation or other computing devices via cable, Universal Serial Bus [USB], Thumb Drives, Firewire [IEEE 1394] or Personal Computer Memory Card International Association devices. Examples include, but are not limited to: pen drives, flash media, memory cards, smart media devices, memory sticks and jump drives.

This direction will remain in effect until further notice and is applicable to all Marine Corps networks, according to Rey Espinoza, a network administrator with MAGTFTC’s G-6.

“This is for any NMCI [Navy Marine Corps Intranet], any legacy or any stand alone machine — if it is a government computer, these devices are not to be put into that machine, period,” he said. “Right now, this will remain in effect until further notice, as far as flash drives and that type of media are concerned.”

As for the use of external hard drives, if the system was plugged in prior to the directive it may remain connected to the computer, and must not be disconnected and reconnected or used to transfer any data from another source.

Russell said that every user agrees to be monitored and therefore consents to being checked for use of such devices.

“The Marine Corps Networks Operations Security Center have the capability to scan the network and can take a look at each and every machine, this is why when you log on, that warning screen says that you can be monitored.”

If a user is found to be using a RSSMD, appropriate action will be taken, according to Espinoza.

“If that USB device or flash drive is connected to any computer on a Marine Corps network at the time that a scan is performed, it will be identified,” he explained. “If it’s caught during a scan, that user’s machine will be confiscated and their account will be disabled and the user will be subject to any action that will be taken after that.”

For those users who use such devices for mission critical files, there are ways around using any RSSMDs.

“We’re going to set up four stations in the classroom at building 1527 to have all the information system coordinators and the terminal area security officers gather any thumb and flash drives in their area to take off any mission critical files and transfer them to CDs,” Russell said.

CDs, as of now, are the only acceptable form of transferable media storage.

Any questions about the directive should be directed to local command Information Assurance Manager or G-6 representative.

Media Devices Prohibited