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US Offender Monitoring System Goes Offline Because Someone Didn't Realize They Ran Out Of Storage

from the are-you-serious? dept

Apparently the system that tracks sex offenders and paroled prisoners and other convicts via electronic tags was totally unreachable for about 12 hours last week, because no one at the company who ran the system, BI, apparently noticed that they had run out of space on their servers. "In retrospect, we should have been able to catch this," claimed a spokesperson for the company. You think? While the data as to their whereabouts was still collected, and the people being tracked were unaware of the lack of monitoring while it was happening, it still makes you wonder why so many governments trust such a system to a company that can't even monitor when they're running out of data storage space.


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  1.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Oct 11th, 2010 @ 7:42am

    Well that bytes.

    Running out of storage is one of the most common problems I see as a tech, but as a tech, I am acutely aware of the remaining space on my servers. It took them 12 hours to figure out they ran out of space, or it took 12 hours for someone to actually go to the site?

     

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    Benny6Toes (profile), Oct 11th, 2010 @ 7:47am

    Re: Well that bytes.

    does it really matter? either way, it was down for about 12 hours. granted, the folks being tracked likely weren't aware of the downtime, but it's indicative of pathetic IT management processes at the company.

    all the company had to do was install a little program to monitor drive space. hell, most 1st party server management software that i'm aware of does that already. and send notifications when certain thresholds are reached.

    i can only imagine what the rest of the company's infrastructure is like. it's kind of pathetic...

     

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  3.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 11th, 2010 @ 7:50am

    Re: Re: Well that bytes.

    "all the company had to do was install a little program to monitor drive space"

    That was my first thought, too. Even if they have some sprawling DC to manage, a typical MSP program with a couple of scripts to trigger alarms should have handled this with ease.

    More importantly, why does a privately run company get to contract with the govt. in a way that entrusts them with criminal information?

     

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  4.  
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    Berenerd (profile), Oct 11th, 2010 @ 8:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Well that bytes.

    Many companies have their hands on criminal infomation. it requires being DoD certified and DoJ certified (which is difficult for an entire company to get certified. single people not so hard.)

    but seriously, I have worked mostly with HP servers and some IBM servers as well as an old digital unix box. ALL of them with internal software alerted you with the lack of drive space. you could get emails, pages, or even phone calls with pre-recorded messages. No excuse for running out of space. I was a contractor for one company with my last job where I would get alerts if they dropped below a Terabyte of hard drive space (1 TB would give them 3 days to add more or clean up). i would get paged then notify their CEO. He would then choose for me to come in and add space (new ranks with SANs) or their IT people would run a disk cleanup of sorts.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2010 @ 8:09am

    Not "ran out of space"

    I saw this earlier on slashdot IIRC, and it was not running out of space. They key is the number of records: two billion is a bit less than 2^31, which is the maximum number that can fit on a signed 32-bit integer.

    What probably happened is that the record identifier was stored on a signed 32-bit variable or database column, and they hit the maximum. The solution was probably to change the type of the variable(s) or database column(s) to a larger integer.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2010 @ 8:10am

    I read someone else that the problem was the database got to 2 Gig.. So it probably wan't a full hard drive, but it reached the 2,147,483,648 byte limit.

     

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  7.  
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    TheRemains (profile), Oct 11th, 2010 @ 8:14am

    In other news...

    In other news a government system in a country with a population of 300 Million has over 2 Billion records in it's criminal database.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2010 @ 8:16am

    Re: In other news...

    It is a tracking system, which probably stores all data points. It is not hard to imagine a single user generating thousands of position records per day.

     

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  9.  
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    Steven (profile), Oct 11th, 2010 @ 8:19am

    Re: Not "ran out of space"

    ...and so we moved all records older than 30 days to a second access database thus solving the problem forever... FOREVER!

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2010 @ 8:20am

    Or maybe we're just tracking too many "offenders" who probably shouldn't be tracked.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2010 @ 8:25am

    Another Outsourcing triumph!

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2010 @ 8:29am

    And yet many want them running healthcare too?

     

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  13.  
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    Jay (profile), Oct 11th, 2010 @ 8:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Well that bytes.

    If you need so much certification, and the Washington Post's "Secret America" blog is anything to go by, the main thing that may happen is someone deletes those memos with the other torrential downpour of information that's coming in.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2010 @ 8:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Well that bytes.

    Ever heard of Bechtel, Dark Helmet?

     

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  15.  
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    Xanius, Oct 11th, 2010 @ 8:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Well that bytes.

    Simple, the government does it at a rate of 1% efficiency.

    I looked in to getting in to this field at one point last year and it's not very hard to do this system, the problem is there's a huge patent war going on for the actual GPS tracking devices between 3 companies.

    When I did the research I found that the parole officers have a case load that's not bearable. One parole officer for 30 or 40 people and each person has 3-4 hours of paper work the case worker has to do each week. They tend to only do a once a week round up of everyone and the criminals are free to do whatever the rest of the time.
    With the tracking systems a private company can charge the city, who then charges the criminal, for taking some of this burden. They track the criminal and then if the person comes up as a suspect they pull the tracking records.

     

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  16.  
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    Bengie, Oct 11th, 2010 @ 9:26am

    SQL

    SQL only has in32(aka signed)

    SQL does correctly support -2,147,483,648 through 2,147,483,647 but who starts with -2,147,483,648? Most people start a DB with 0, effectively cutting this range in half.

    The real question is what idiot didn't use a bigint(signed 64bit) for the key.

     

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  17.  
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    Overcast (profile), Oct 11th, 2010 @ 9:29am

    Use SNMP clowns...

     

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  18.  
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    Overcast (profile), Oct 11th, 2010 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Well that bytes.

    More importantly, why does a privately run company get to contract with the govt. in a way that entrusts them with criminal information?

    Corporations donate to Politicians.

    Politicians then insure that those corporations get 'contracts' to enrichen them. The politician may even have an interest or own stock, thereby profiting as well.

    This is why a person would put up millions to get a job that pays much, much less. Profits are made 'by proxy'.

    It's not about safety or anything other than money, power, and control.

     

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  19.  
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    chris (profile), Oct 11th, 2010 @ 11:21am

    Re:

    And yet many want them running healthcare too?

    medical records are WAY different that sex offender data... oh, right.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2010 @ 4:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Well that bytes.

    You meant ensure *

     

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  21.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Oct 11th, 2010 @ 4:47pm

    Re: Not "ran out of space"

    So what kind of crap database were they using, that they couldn’t handle more than 2³¹-1 records?

    In plain old common-or-garden MySQL, which you can download and use for free, you can declare a field as “bigint unsigned”, and that can hold any number up to 2⁶⁴-1. Use one of those fields for your primary key, and Bob’s your uncle. Simples!

     

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  22.  
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    Mark Schober, Apr 15th, 2012 @ 3:55pm

    Very Poor and Inacurate Article

    This article makes it sound like there is "one system" that monitors offenders. There are hundreds of companies and dozens and dozens of systems that do the monitoring. What system is the article talking about? Extremely poorly written and inaccurate article. Offender monitoring is like everything else. You need to pick a competent company with an effective product/service. Unfortunately, there are quite a few fly-by-night companies providing these services. Unlike the one in your article, Security Central Exchange http://www.securitycentralexchange.com
    Provides professional offender monitoring services. We can assure you that this would not happen with Security Central Exchange. Visit http://www.securitycentralexchange.com for more information on offender monitoring and other monitoring services.

     

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