Jumping Jacked Flash
This week the Los Angeles Times has been reporting about flash memory drives stolen from the U.S. military that wind up on the open market, where they potentially can reveal classified information. "Drives Outline Military Tactics" explains how these highly portable drives sold in an Afghan bazaar detailed knowledge of Al Qaeda and Taliban operations -- and even the identities of informants -- in documents marked "secret." In the follow-up story, "U.S. Computer Files Remain on Market in Afghanistan," a reporter describes finding three more such devices with military information, even after a U.S. crackdown attempted to round-up all such computer-related materials from an apparent security breach at the Bagram air base. With the rise of ubiquitous computing and cross-platform USB devices, these miniature drives have obvious advantages to highly mobile personnel. They have become almost as common around soldiers' necks as dog tags. However, this mobility has emerging disadvantages as well, particularly for tactical and strategic secrecy.