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DOD disables file sharing service due to ‘security risks’

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The US Department of Defense has disabled access last week to a file sharing service used by its army aviation and missile research centers citing security issues.

The disabled service is named AMRDEC SAFE, which stands for the US Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) Safe Access File Exchange (SAFE).

According to its website, AMRDEC is “the Army’s focal point for providing research, development, and engineering technology and services for aviation and missile platforms across the life cycle.”

The agency said that AMRDEC SAFE was initially developed to facilitate the exchange of large data files between AMRDEC and its industry partners and customers.

The service has been available since the start of the 2010s. The service has been used to handle the transfer of both classified and non-classified materials. It was characterized as an FTP-based system and used a password-protected web-based panel for file uploads and downloads.

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Image: US Air Force

But without any prior warning, DOD officials have shut down the service last week.

“The AMRDEC SAFE site was disabled as a preventative measure after agencies outside of AMRDEC identified potential security risks,” said a statement posted on the SAFE portal. “At this point, we are uncertain if the site will be reinstated.”

Three weeks ago, the DOD extended its “Hack the Pentagon” program to include mission-critical systems. An AMRDEC spokesperson did not return an email seeking more details about SAFE’s shutdown, or if the shutdown is related to the DOD’s ongoing bug bounty program.

The AMRDEC SAFE service was not particularly liked among DOD contractors, due to its sluggish and tendency to crash [1, 2], but its shutdown was noticed almost immediately.

“AMRDEC does not manage any other secure file transfer sites, nor are we aware of any other government-run sites. In the interim, IT and mission-related questions should be directed to your specific organization to determine alternative methods for secure file exchange,” AMRDEC officials recommended to users visiting the SAFE portal after its shutdown.

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