USAF Colonel: Starbucks WiFi Is More Secure Than The Pentagon Network

from the thanks-a-latte dept

Some of the major issues raised during this NSA debacle have gone beyond the question of if the government should be collecting all of this data on roughly all the people to where this data is stored, what's done with it, and how access to it is controlled.They are big questions, because no matter what you think about the surveillance programs perpetrated against the American people, any inability to secure the information collected by the government should be an automatic deal-killer. So, how secure is data on government systems in general? Eh, go grab a cup of coffee before I tell you.

Because while you're at your local Starbucks, the free WiFi offered to you provides some of your answer, at least according to one US Air Force Colonel in charge of providing legal defense for accused 9/11 conspirators. She says the Pentagon's network wasn't as secure as Starbucks'.

Col Mayberry ordered her team of lawyers to stop putting sensitive documents on that system in April, citing their ethical obligation to protect confidentiality. The lawyers have since been using personal computers to email documents from coffee shops and hotel lobbies. Col Mayberry cited evidence that defence files had been lost or altered, prosecutors and defence lawyers were temporarily given access to some of each other's emails, and outside monitors tracked defence researchers' work as they visited terrorism-related sites to prepare for the case.

"It's not speculative or hypothetical," Col Mayberry said. "It happened."
Well isn't that a kick in the hard drive? The two possibilities, that either defense files were accessed by parties outside of the military or federal government, or that someone within the military and/or government was poking mortar-sized holes in the legal rights of the accused, each present their own frightening problems. But the result is the same. The same government that wants us to accept that information about us should be collected can't secure the systems on which that data is stored enough to protect our rights.

The prosecution predictably slammed the defense team, asking if they weren't "concerned about the nice man in the green apron looking over" their shoulders as they worked. Here's a fun thought experiment. Imagine you're on trial and you have two people to choose from to look at your defense team's information, strategies, etc. One is a barista. The other is a shadow of a profile picture, by which you can't determine who the hell is reviewing this stuff. Which one do you choose? Barista, or mystery avatar?

The point is that a government inept enough to have the kind of laughable security for legal proceedings sure as hell can't be trusted with my phone records. Period, paragraph, end of story.

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Filed Under: cafes, defense department, pentagon, security


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2013 @ 3:27pm

    "asking if they weren't "concerned about the nice man in the green apron looking over" their shoulders as they worked."

    Well, let's see, whoever passes for the system admin of a coffeehouse with a wi-fi connection is unlikely to be interested in the case work of a few lawyers. Even if they were, their ability to impact a case would be extremely limited.

    Yeah, not very concerned.

    Unknown government persons on the other hand are much more likely to be interested in the case work of some government lawyers, and be in a position to impact the case.

    Yeah, much more concerned.

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