It looks like a defense contractor in Bethesda, Maryland, had file sharing software on the same computer that contained the sensitive data. File sharing software can be useful and entertaining: It can let employees in a company communicate more effectively, or let people listen to nifty music on their computers.
And, some of those nifty bits of file-sharing software let others look around inside your computer. Not a very good idea.
When you're a company in Bethesda, with engineering specs for Marine One, it's a downright bad idea.
Good News: This Leak Was FoundA company called Tiversa is in the business of not being sloppy about cybersecurity - and spotting problems. Tivers'as CEO, Bob Boback, said, " 'We found a file containing entire blueprints and avionics package for Marine One,which is the president's helicopter.' " (WPXI)
Most coverage of this story, that I've seen, is on a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, station's website.
Some of it's good news:
"...Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, an adviser to Tiversa, said, 'We found where this information came from. We know exactly what computer it came from. I'm sure that person is embarrassed and may even lose their job, but we know where it came from and we know where it went.'... "
Some of it's not so good:
"...Iran is not the only country that appears to be accessing this type of information through file-sharing programs.
" 'We've noticed it out of Pakistan, Yemen, Qatar, and China. They are actively searching for information that is disclosed in this fashion because it is a great source of intelligence,' Boback said...."
Transparency and Openness: But Not About Marine OneIt would be nice to live in a world where shop doors could be left unlocked at night, so customers could walk in, take what they want, and leave an IOU by the register. We could save a lot of money, if banks didn't need those big, heavy doors between their vaults and the rest of the building.
Here, in the real world, it's not safe to leave doors unlocked and unattended. And, it's neither safe nor smart to have intrusive file-sharing software on your computer.
When the computer has plans for Marine One on it, it's not just sloppy. It's potentially lethal.
Marine One Plans, Missing Laptops, and Sloppiness We Can't AffordI've written - maybe harangued - before, along the lines of "there's a war on." This is Marine One snafu is serious. Maybe as serious as all that credit card information that gets stolen.
It would be nice, if Americans start un-learning the sloppy habits we've developed.
- "Peanut Terrorism? Peanut Corp. of America Reveals Dangerous Security Gap"
(February 11, 2009)
- "McCain Campaign BlackBerrys Sold at Bargain-Basement Prices - Confidential Data Included: What's the Matter With People These Days?!"
(December 15, 2008)
- "Madoff's Ponzi Scheme, Laptops, Nipple Rings, and the War on Terror"
(December 17, 2008)
- "Worm Spreading Fast in Pentagon Computers: (not) in the News"
(November 21, 2008)
- "International Monetary Fund Allegedly Hacked - And It's Not News"
(November 14, 2008)
- "White House Computers Hacked, Probably by China: News That's Not Fit to Print?"
(November 9, 2008)
- "World Bank Under Cyberattack? Surprise!"
(November 2, 2008)
- "Plutonium Spill! Aircraft Carrier Fire! Warplanes Crashing! Disasters Everywhere!"
(July 31, 2008)
- "No Room for "Oops" when Handling Nuclear Weapons:Top Two Air Force Leaders Resign"
(June 5, 2008)
- "Local Company Discovers Threat To Obama's Security"
WPXI Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (February 28, 2009)