Yeah, It Was a Thumb Drive

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


I guess this comes as no surprise:

Former National Security Agency contract employee Edward Snowden used a computer thumb drive to smuggle highly classified documents out of an NSA facility in Hawaii, using a portable digital device supposedly barred inside the cyber spying agency, U.S. officials said.

….“Of course, there are always exceptions” to the thumb drive ban, a former NSA official said, particularly for network administrators. “There are people who need to use a thumb drive and they have special permission. But when you use one, people always look at you funny.

Hmmm. “Looking at you funny” doesn’t really seem like high-grade security, does it?

On the other hand, what’s the answer? Thumb drives these days can be as small as a fingernail, so it’s hard to know what kind of measures can keep them out of secure sites completely. And yes, network admins probably do need to use them sometimes. Ironically, this means that the kind of people who probably pose the greatest security threat are also the kind of people who are least invested in NSA’s actual mission.

I suppose the answer here is going to be yet another crackdown on thumb drives, as well as a more general crackdown on security in general. This will throw plenty of sand in the gears at NSA, but I have a feeling Snowden might not have a problem with that.

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate