DHS: Our Reports To Congress Are Successful Bullshit

from the yeah,-we-already-kinda-figured dept

Okay, it's official. I no longer believe that our Department of Homeland Security is an actual government agency with important work to do. No, I now believe that it is a series of highly subtle performance art pieces designed to make us laugh at the sheer audacity of dumb government. We already know about the agency's boss, who is in charge of cybersecurity, not bothering to use the internet. And then there is the DHS's highly touted fusion centers being both a waste of money and a detriment to the very freedoms they're supposedly protecting.

But Tim K writes in about a rather stunning admission by DHS officials of a bogus DHS report on a water pumping facility. It essentially amounts to: “sure the report is a complete lie, but it was a successful lie.” Don't believe me?

Officials behind the false claims told Senate investigators that such reports weren’t meant to be “finished intelligence” and that despite their report’s inaccuracies and sloppy wording they considered it to be a “success.”

“[It did] exactly what it’s supposed to do – generate interest,” DHS officials told Senate investigators.

Now, let's do some quick background on this report, less because it informs you and more because it's hysterical. About a year ago, a water pump failed in an Illinois water facility. In response, almost immediately, an Illinois fusion center (part DHS, part Illinois State Police) circulated a report blaming a hacking attack from Russia. Not soon after that report was circulated, the greater DHS office rebuffed the fusion center's hacking allegation as absolute nonsense. It pointed out, as does the linked article, that the allegation was pure conjecture based on the fusion center's inability to do even the most basic investigation.

Someone did access the water district’s SCADA system from Russia, but it was a water district contractor who was asked to access the system by water district employees, as Wired first reported. They had called him to seek his opinion on something while he was on vacation in Russia, and he had logged into the system remotely to check on some data for them.

When the pump broke five months later and someone examined the network logs to determine the cause, they found an IP address from Russia listed in the logs next to the username and password of the contractor. No one ever bothered to call the contractor to see if he had logged in from Russia; they just assumed someone in Russia had stolen his credentials.

It's worth noting that the water pump busted 5 months after this Russian IP logged in. In other words, none of this makes a lick of sense, except if it's the case of someone looking for a convenient scapegoat. “Hackers! Russians!” is apparently what these people went with, for reasons unknown to this author.

But the DHS report circulated to Congress, which DHS says is a success even though it's bullshit, was written up after they called out their own fusion center for making stuff up. I think most reasonable people would suspect that such successful excriment is part of the fear mongering around so-called cyberwars and the trumped up need for Congress to pass some kind of cybersecurity bill. But even the least cynical person would at least expect the DHS to correct their report and alert Congress to the pure made-up-iness of it. DHS has thus far declined to do so, because, paraphrasing DHS itself, the lie is more effective than the truth. Yay, government!

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Comments on “DHS: Our Reports To Congress Are Successful Bullshit”

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Ninja (profile) says:

So let us just think for a minute here.

The FBI sets up imaginary terrorist plots and successfully defuse said schemes.

Congressmen and executive members including Obama talk about some fantasy apocalyptic scenario where planes rain from de skies because of equally fantastic cyber attacks from some unknown source.

The DOJ along with some other Govt help keeps spewing statistic taken out of MAFIAAS collective imaginary arses and use it to seize domains that theoretically cause more financial harm than a tsunami or a horde of angry green leprechauns.

DHS spreads fictional reports on how their seemingly double-agent fellow American pump engineer time traveled from the past and broke a pump by hacking it 5 months in the future.

Gentleman, I think the United States Government is a case that even Freud would find difficult to solve.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:

Hope to High Heavens

I sure hope that it was only a historical database or something this contractor was able to login. Sure, you wouldn’t want your data out for all to see but if the company actually allows remote access to the SCADA controls network then the FUD-makers in government will have more of a leg to stand on…meaning there are network admins dumb enough to allow critical infrastructure to be connected to the internet. Now we all must suffer because of their ineptitude (which is usually why bad laws are passed).

Also, spellcheck – excrement. =]

ChrisB (profile) says:

Re: Hope to High Heavens

Most utility companies (e.g., pipelines) have remote access to the “Data” part of SCADA. This is common to see what’s going on. The “Control” part is heavily locked down, and usually routed through a central secure control centre.

But, of course, why is the government involved at all? Pipeline companies are much more concerned about their pipelines going down than governments are. This idea that if companies make mistakes, the government has to come in and regulate is absolute nonsense. Governments are full of bureaucrats who have little or no experience running a business. They are the last people we want making more laws and regulations. Let the businesses be responsible for running the businesses. If governments need to make laws, make sure they are about the results (e.g., power grid online 99.9% of the time), not procedures (e.g., power companies shall do this, this, and this).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Hope to High Heavens

Wait wait wait… are you actually saying that you believe that expectations (99.9% up-time) without basic procedural regulation (employees shall take breaks and/or limit shift lengths so they don’t botch a simple routine maintenance and kill themselves) is a good idea?

You’re talking about the Gilded Age with added law requiring results. Financial penalties if they fail (I assume, because otherwise why have a law?) Without basic regulation, what would keep these companies from working their employees (read: wage slaves) to their literal deaths?

I’m thinking you just didn’t think this through. There should absolutely be BASIC and FUNDAMENTAL regulation on what companies and certain industries must do at a minimum to deal with safety and basic human fallibility issues.

Issuing tightly-focused regulations is a waste of everyone’s time and money, it’s true – but you absolutely must have a foundation, because without it, people get exploited in the name of profit. It still happens today, in America, the “greatest country in the world”… just with undocumented workers instead of citizens.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:

Re: Re: Hope to High Heavens

Agree with your first statement…since the article is unclear I was just hoping that they hadn’t made the mistake the government hopes we’re making.

If you look at most utility numbers on power grid reliability you will see 99.985% (Average Service Availability Index) online for the year. Even a day long outage doesn’t put much of a dent in that number. Outages will happen, every once in a while they are more widespread and gain big headlines but regulations will not make a significant dent in improving reliability. Outages caused by negligence are such a small percentage of that number. Weather contributes more to widespread outages. So until we can regulate the weather then we are just throwing money down the toilet (the bureaucracy rejoices).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I think DHS is looking at itself as an organ designed to identify and clarify what possibe threads USA can face. The report is obviously seen as a succes because it is showing a possible future threat!

I do not like their methods at all, but if DHS is really meant to come up with possible ways the US security could be compromised, it is not bullshit at all.

Do not get sucked into the utilitarian thought of: The report is bullshit = The DHS is bullshit.

It is a question of identifying the weaknesses in the system. Who in their right mind would make a homepage without even considering how to avoid hackers?

How politicians and media react to the knowledge of the weaknesses is the real problem!

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I think that you’re being far to generous to the DHS. If the report was intended as you suggest, then it should have clearly said as much. It did not.

This is fear-mongering, nothing more.

Do not get sucked into the utilitarian thought of: The report is bullshit = The DHS is bullshit.

Why not? The report isn’t just bullshit, it’s a lie. An agency that lies is bullshit.

However, pretty much everything else about the DHS screams that it’s bullshit (and dangerous bullshit at that), so even if the logic of that utilitarian thought is wrong, the conclusion still holds.

SlickR (user link) says:

No kidding

Of course the DHS is a joke at its core, joke on the American people. I mean from the TSA sticking their hands down people’s pants, especially kids, to they labeling “returning veterans, constitutionalists, concerned with privacy, paying with cash” as terrorists.

Of course what is real though is the giant police state underneath it, the FEMA camps, the spying grids, all to tackle the American people when they find out 9/11 was a false flag operation, the treasury not only is it bare its gone and printing money has created huge inflation and the whole economy breaks.

EyesOfTruth (profile) says:

Citizen Spy Syndicates

Local neighborhood watch networks are recruited into citizen spy syndicates and trained by Fusion Centers to spy, fabricate and frame bogus national threat alerts against law abiding American patriots. Here’s a peek into the underworld of citizen spies trained to report, harass and violate America’s Civil and Constructional rights. Check out the following links
and there’s much more about their incredible, brazen, daylight racketeering.
Best Regards,

EyesOfTruth (profile) says:

Citizen Spy Syndicates

ALERT: Local neighborhood watch networks are recruited into citizen spy syndicates, trained and coordinated by Fusion Centers to spy, fabricate and frame bogus national threat alerts against law abiding, liberty promoting American patriots. Here’s a peek into the underworld of citizen spies trained to report, harass, mob target and violate America’s Civil and Constitutional rights.
Check out the following links
next link …
And the next link illustrates the “modern”, Fusion coordinated, cult-hate groups hating all law abiding, liberty promoting American patriots …
and there’s much more expose about their incredible, brazen, daylight racketeering.
The 72 Threat Fusion Centers Were Designed To Threaten You
Best Regards,

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