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Defense secretary considering ban on personal cellphones at Pentagon

  • The DOD is already reviewing the use of smartphones and other electronic devices on military bases worldwide.
  • The reviews follow heightened national security concerns about cellphones and other personal electronic devices used by U.S. troops.
  • A recent report disclosed some fitness devices can expose locations where U.S. service members work out, including some secret bases.
The Pentagon building in Washington, D.C.
Staff | AFP | Getty Images
The Pentagon building in Washington, D.C.

The Department of Defense may ban the use of personal cellphones and other wireless devices such as Fitbits by civilian and military personnel at the Pentagon after new security concerns were raised about the threat they pose.

A Pentagon official told CNBC on Wednesday that no decision has been made on whether to go ahead with a ban.

The Pentagon already is reviewing the use of smartphones and other electronic devices on military bases worldwide. The Military Times newspaper reported Wednesday that Defense Secretary James Mattis considered a ban at the Pentagon even before the recent report about the Strava fitness app exposing locations around the globe where U.S. troops work out, including some secret military installations.

The Pentagon, located in Virginia, is one of the largest office buildings in the world and houses more than 30,000 workers. An outright ban on the use of personal smartphones at the Pentagon could be an inconvenience to some workers but experts say the devices not only can be used for tracking but are vulnerable to hackers who can tap into data and hear conversations.

Last year, there was a report Russia had launched a smartphone campaign that targeted at least 4,000 NATO troops in Eastern Europe. Russia reportedly wanted to hack into soldiers' personal smartphones to allow them to keep tabs on force strength.

Also, a report last year from the Government Accountability Office criticized the DoD for gaps in its policies with regard to Internet-capable devices, including smart TVs, and the watchdog agency suggested cybersecurity efforts "can be strengthened."

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