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  #1  
Old 05-26-2016, 06:47 AM
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Default Meanwhile, in Pentagon

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Quote:
Originally Posted by CNN
The U.S. is still using floppy disks to run its nuclear program
By James Griffiths, CNN
Updated 0438 GMT (1238 HKT) May 26, 2016


(CNN) — Want to launch a nuclear missile? You'll need a floppy disk.

That's according to a new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), which found that the Pentagon was still using 1970s-era computing systems that require "eight-inch floppy disks."

Such disks were already becoming obsolete by the end of that decade, being edged out by smaller, non-floppy 3.5 to 5.25-inch disks, before being almost completely replaced by the CD in the late 90s.

Except in Washington that is. The GAO report says that U.S. government departments spend upwards of $60 billion a year on operating and maintaining out-of-date technologies.

That's three times the investment on modern IT systems.

The report says the Pentagon is planning to replace its floppy systems -- which currently coordinate intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), nuclear bombers and tanker support aircraft -- by the end of 2017.

Other departments were also put on notice to update their systems. The U.S. Treasury for example, still depends on assembly language code "initially used in the 1950s."

Bringing government departments into the 21st century has proven difficult across the board.

Megan Smith, the current U.S. Chief Technology Officer, told the New York Times in 2015 of the "culture shock" experienced by the tech-savvy Obama campaign when they took control of a White House still dependent on floppy disks and Blackberrys.

just let that sink in.








In other news, since Microsoft bought Skype back in 2011 which has a head office still in Estonia, they seem to have found a very interesting and interested partner to test new things out. Linky
Quote:
Originally Posted by WinBeta

Digital continuity for government services gets a head start in Estonia with Microsoft Azure

Microsoft has published a new post about the company’s partnership with the Estonian Government in digitalizing the country’s systems, the latest effort of which involves building “digital resilience.”

In recent years, Estonia has risen to become the hub of innovation not just in Europe but the world over, with new transformative ideas being embraced readily and thoughtfully to drive positive changes away from legacy processes, into the future. The country especially has been at the forefront of digitalizing governmental procedures, with projects like e-Residency and digital “data embassy”.

The sensitive and important nature of the information involved in these projects, should they come to fruition, means data and digital services must be able to withstand interferences – the concept behind “digital resilience,” also referred to as “digital continuity.” This area is where Microsoft is working with the Estonian government on with its Azure cloud services. Using the cloud, data like digital land ownership records can be migrated to the cloud in case of disruptions. Microsoft has also provided a Summary Report detailing their findings.

Of course, there are still many technical and policy issues to consider before such a system can be implemented; nevertheless, it is an important part of the digitalization process, and hints at a bright future for not just Estonians, but countries the world over, as we fully enter the digital age.
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Old 05-26-2016, 06:53 AM
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If you are ever bored (and want to terrify yourself) go read Command and Control by Eric Schlosser. It goes super into the details of just how terrible the US has been over the past 70+ years and protecting its nuclear arsenal. It discusses this legacy IT issue a couple times along with a bunch of other even scarier security issues we've had over the years.
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Old 05-26-2016, 07:27 AM
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Look on the upside of it: it'll be a whole lot more difficult for a spy to buy an eight inch floppy in a shopping mall nowadays than it used to be, so sabotage will be more difficult as a result. Looked at that way, this could even be a safety feature.

The last (and only) time I used an 8 inch floppy disk was somewhere in the early 90s. At my father's workplace they happened to have a couple of them that were alleged to have the source code for a useful program on it, but they no longer could read them. I thought it an interesting challenge, and spend about a day looking around at the university for someone who still had a working drive for the things. I eventually did find one; it hadn't been used for years but it still functioned.

An interesting problem nowadays is of course that modern computers just simply do not have any way to attach a floppy disk drive to them, so you'll have to custom build that if you switch to a new computer.
Looking on the Internet showed me that there are USB floppy drives, but the only ones I could find with a simple search (without looking at the second or later result pages) were 3.5 inch. There was the suggestion of emulating floppies, which might be a good idea for the American nuclear programme as well. If they then also switch to emulated nukes, the world would be a lot safer.

As an aside: does North Korea also use 8 inch floppy disks, or have they gone one better and invented the 16 inch floppy?
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Old 05-26-2016, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by GonzoTheGreat View Post
Look on the upside of it: it'll be a whole lot more difficult for a spy to buy an eight inch floppy in a shopping mall nowadays than it used to be, so sabotage will be more difficult as a result. Looked at that way, this could even be a safety feature.

The last (and only) time I used an 8 inch floppy disk was somewhere in the early 90s. At my father's workplace they happened to have a couple of them that were alleged to have the source code for a useful program on it, but they no longer could read them. I thought it an interesting challenge, and spend about a day looking around at the university for someone who still had a working drive for the things. I eventually did find one; it hadn't been used for years but it still functioned.

An interesting problem nowadays is of course that modern computers just simply do not have any way to attach a floppy disk drive to them, so you'll have to custom build that if you switch to a new computer.
Looking on the Internet showed me that there are USB floppy drives, but the only ones I could find with a simple search (without looking at the second or later result pages) were 3.5 inch. There was the suggestion of emulating floppies, which might be a good idea for the American nuclear programme as well. If they then also switch to emulated nukes, the world would be a lot safer.

As an aside: does North Korea also use 8 inch floppy disks, or have they gone one better and invented the 16 inch floppy?
Too insecure to go that big.
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Old 05-26-2016, 03:23 PM
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My first impression was that this was actually a security precaution rather than a security risk. Isn't it basically impossible to hack a system running on floppies?
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Old 05-26-2016, 07:34 PM
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My first impression was that this was actually a security precaution rather than a security risk. Isn't it basically impossible to hack a system running on floppies?
Yes and no.

In general you would have to have physical access to a floppy based system to hack it. Once you have physical access, it is pretty easy to boot from a clean disk and bypass all of the protections on the disk you want to hack.

PS: gaining physical access to a missile launch facility or the disks with the launch codes is the "security" aspect.
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Old 05-26-2016, 07:38 PM
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Yes and no.

In general you would have to have physical access to a floppy based system to hack it. Once you have physical access, it is pretty easy to boot from a clean disk and bypass all of the protections on the disk you want to hack.

PS: gaining physical access to a missile launch facility or the disks with the launch codes is the "security" aspect.
In general, our handling of our nuclear triad from a security standpoint has been dreadful over the years. We've just been incredibly lucky to not have more major incidents and/or accidents (although that's more of a workplace safety issue than a straight up security one...but any security professional will tell you that those often work hand in hand)

We've had a ton of "close calls" over the years.
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Old 05-27-2016, 04:28 AM
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In general, our handling of our nuclear triad from a security standpoint has been dreadful over the years. We've just been incredibly lucky to not have more major incidents and/or accidents (although that's more of a workplace safety issue than a straight up security one...but any security professional will tell you that those often work hand in hand)

We've had a ton of "close calls" over the years.
that's what the two S's stand for in HSSE (or however you choose to compile that acronym, I've also seen EHSS and HSES. It all stands for the same thing): Health, Safety, Security and Environment
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Old 05-27-2016, 04:53 AM
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Aren't safety and security the same thing?
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Old 05-27-2016, 05:52 AM
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Aren't safety and security the same thing?
Security means being in another building when your idiot co-worker tries out the flame thrower. Safety means not having such a flame thrower on site in the first place.
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Old 05-27-2016, 06:08 AM
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Security means being in another building when your idiot co-worker tries out the flame thrower. Safety means not having such a flame thrower on site in the first place.
in my experience it's more... Security means that the flame thrower cabinet is locked. Safety means that *if* there's a flamethrower present, people are aware of how and when to use it but even more importantly, how and when NOT to use it.
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Old 05-27-2016, 11:12 AM
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Why did you choose flame throwers for the analogy?

But my point is that as the two are practically synonyms or at the very least security is a specialised form of safety, why add both words in the litany?
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Old 05-27-2016, 11:27 AM
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Why did you choose flame throwers for the analogy?
Because it's Theoryland.
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Old 05-27-2016, 11:50 AM
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Because it's Theoryland.
I was looking for a more detailed answer.
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Old 05-27-2016, 11:55 AM
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I was looking for a more detailed answer.
Since I don't have a drive for 8 inch disks, I don't have nuclear weapons*. So what else, apart from flame throwers, could possibly be relevant when discussing the difference between safety and security?

* Or maybe the other way around. Whatever.
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Old 05-27-2016, 12:48 PM
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in my experience it's more... Security means that the flame thrower cabinet is locked. Safety means that *if* there's a flamethrower present, people are aware of how and when to use it but even more importantly, how and when NOT to use it.
Safety also means you have the proper fire extinguisher available and properly mounted on the wall next to that cabinet and that the monthly and annual inspections for that extinguisher have been made and annotated.

Etc etc


Can you tell I do both safety and security for a living these days?
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Old 05-27-2016, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by GonzoTheGreat View Post
Since I don't have a drive for 8 inch disks, I don't have nuclear weapons*. So what else, apart from flame throwers, could possibly be relevant when discussing the difference between safety and security?

* Or maybe the other way around. Whatever.
Sex?
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Old 05-27-2016, 12:58 PM
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Safety and Security are both sides of the same coin. A lot of the same principles apply but the end goal is different. For nukes, safety would be making sure they don't go off accidentally through risk mitigation like making the bomb case more secure and the trigger mechanism less twitchy so to speak. It would also include things like practice exercises in loading and unloading both silos and bombers to make sure procedures work and the crews aren't at risk. Even things like teaching proper lifting techniques and ergonomics fall under "safety"

Security would be the prevention of tampering, having armed guards, patrols, CCTV systems, a fence line, concentric perimeter defenses, a hardened silo that can survive a nearby first strike attempt, etc.

Both come down to the concept of risk management and 99% of what I do every single day at my job is risk assessment and risk management regardless of whether I'm focused on safety or security.
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Old 05-27-2016, 05:10 PM
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Both come down to the concept of risk management and 99% of what I do every single day at my job is risk assessment and risk management regardless of whether I'm focused on safety or security.
Bit off-topic, but your job sounds like the career I want to get into. So just wondering how you got into it and if you got any specific certifications or education?
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Old 05-27-2016, 08:50 PM
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I have a bunch of classroom instruction in both fields...probably a few hundred hours at this point. That's hours of classroom training, not credit hours. My actual degree is in history which doesn't really apply obviously. As far as commercially available certs, I have a Certified Protection Professional (CPP) cert and a Six Sigma Green Belt (not a specific safety or security cert but it definitely helps with the planning side of it). For other cents I have a physical security certification from Defense Security Services (DSS) a few Personnel Security certs, an Emergency Management Coordinator certification from DHS. Those are all govt owned or run entities and they're basically only open for federal or fed contract employees.

Most of my experience was learned OJT though. Those certs and classroom training was all basically paid for by my employer and I have to keep current with continuing education to maintain them.

It's fairly boring on a day to day basis but overall I find it fascinating.

As to how I got into it, I kinda fell backwards into it. I used to be in the Intelligence world but couldn't find a good job in that specialty when we moved from DC to Boston about 10 years ago for my now-wife's career (she was a engineer at the time for a big defense contractor) so I took a job in the security realm that still needed a high security clearance (something I still had from those Intel days). I went back to the Intel world a couple years later and found I no longer really liked it as much as security. Due to that realization, I quit and took a job in private sector with a large company as a security manager for a few of their facilities and then parlayed that back into a much higher federal security job a few years later and I've been with that employer ever since basically. I also ended up in Vermont of all places so go figure.
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"We caught them in an alley on skid row in downtown Philly and brought them down with Uzi's and dogs. I beat the shit out of one of the guys for resisting arrest. After that, I went home, fried up some tofu with strawberry preserves and melon sticky rice, laid down on the couch with my snuggie and ate rose petals in sweet daisy wine sauce and watched Mamma Mia on DVD and then cried myself to sleep."

Theoryland: Just Some Crazy In A Pot

Last edited by Davian93; 05-27-2016 at 08:56 PM.
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