The Pentagon has granted many exceptions, possibly numbering in the thousands, to allow staff members who administer secure computer networks to use flash drives and other portable storage devices, department spokesmen say. Snowden used a simple flash drive to store the materials.
The Defense Department has banned the use of removable flash media and storage devices from all government computers, according to a series of notices put out by the services this week. The action comes following reports that a worm virus known as "Agent.btz" was discovered.
The Defense Department has lifted its 15-month-old ban on USB drives and other portable media, a restriction that had proved to be unpopular.
A DOD policy that bans using flash drives was relaxed recently because of adjustments made to Defense Department computer systems.