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posted by Woods on Tuesday April 29 2014, @02:30PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the still-better-than-laserdisc dept.

Ars Technica reports that the US government built facilities for the Minuteman missiles in the 1960s and 1970s and although the missiles have been upgraded numerous times to make them safer and more reliable, the bases themselves haven't changed much and there isn't a lot of incentive to upgrade them. ICBM forces commander Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein told Leslie Stahl from "60 Minutes" that the bases have extremely tight IT and cyber security, because they're not Internet-connected and they use such old hardware and software. "A few years ago we did a complete analysis of our entire network," says Weinstein. "Cyber engineers found out that the system is extremely safe and extremely secure in the way it's developed." While on the base, missileers showed Stahl the 8-inch floppy disks, marked "Top Secret," which are used with the computer that handles what was once called the Strategic Air Command Digital Network (SACDIN), a communication system that delivers launch commands to US missile forces. Later, in an interview with Weinstein, Stahl described the disk she was shown as "gigantic," and said she had never seen one that big. Weinstein explained, "Those older systems provide us some, I will say, huge safety, when it comes to some cyber issues that we currently have in the world."

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 29 2014, @02:35PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 29 2014, @02:35PM (#37674)

    What is it with the government and their love of the term "cyber"?

    • (Score: 2) by Blackmoore on Tuesday April 29 2014, @02:40PM

      by Blackmoore (57) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @02:40PM (#37677) Journal

      they want us to be comfortable when they show off the first edition military cyborgs.
      because you know - nothing could possibly go wrong with that.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Sir Garlon on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:05PM

      by Sir Garlon (1264) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:05PM (#37688)

      You would perhaps prefer a three-letter acronym?

      --
      [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
    • (Score: 2) by Dunbal on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:29PM

      by Dunbal (3515) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:29PM (#37699)

      It's being used correctly. What's the problem? It's certainly much more accurate than "cloud" this and "cloud" that. Cyber means computer or related to computer. "Cloud" can mean anything from my remote servers I own to remote servers I contract storage and CPU time from, to remote servers that are ripping me off, modifying my files, stealing and mining my data, no actual servers at all since everything is held live in a perpetual stream bounced between peers, or a grey-white fluffy thing in the sky.

      • (Score: 2, Informative) by DrMag on Tuesday April 29 2014, @04:58PM

        by DrMag (1860) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @04:58PM (#37744)

        It's a buzzword, and just as bad as "cloud". It happens to have a little age now, so many people today have accepted it as normal, just as 5-10 years from now the term "cloud" will be normalized if it sees continued use.

        Despite its accepted use today, the word "cyber" actually does stem from the word cybernetics [reference.com]---which has a little to do with computers, and nothing to do with network systems like the internet.

        • (Score: 2) by edIII on Tuesday April 29 2014, @06:30PM

          by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday April 29 2014, @06:30PM (#37782)

          It comes from the use of the term cyberspace. Cyberspace does make sense to me in how it's used.

          From that point it naturally follows that people would start prefacing things in the real world with cyber.

          Yes, it directly contradicts an already established use.

          --
          Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
          • (Score: 2, Informative) by DrMag on Tuesday April 29 2014, @08:53PM

            by DrMag (1860) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @08:53PM (#37841)

            No, originally cybernetic. It was first used by Norbert Wiener [wikipedia.org] in 1948. Most (all) sources I've seen cite this word as the origin for the prefix cyber-.

            For a more entertaining look at the origin of the word (and ultimately how silly it makes people sound) look here [io9.com].

            • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Wednesday April 30 2014, @12:03AM

              by HiThere (866) on Wednesday April 30 2014, @12:03AM (#37927) Journal

              Weiner wrote a book with the title "cybernetics". And he was thinking about military applications at the time. (I think he was originally talking about target seeking artillery shells.) He created the term cybernetics with "cyber-" taken from the Greek word for steersman. I'm not sure whether it was classical Greek or modern, but I suspect classical Athenian Greek.

              --
              Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by mrMagoo on Tuesday April 29 2014, @02:36PM

    by mrMagoo (4165) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @02:36PM (#37675)

    Anyone remember the premise of that show, and why the BG was able to escape the Cylon cybergeddon?

    --
    "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment." -Originally attributed to Nasrudin
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by WizardFusion on Tuesday April 29 2014, @02:40PM

      by WizardFusion (498) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday April 29 2014, @02:40PM (#37678) Journal

      (for those that don't know)
      Because each of the ships systems were separate. No connection with each other.
      In one episode of the modern version, they did network them together (for some reason) and the Cylons try to hack them.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:04PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:04PM (#37686)

        The ships also had two computer networks. One for I guess "normal" networking and the other for command and control. The C&C network was isolated and had no communications outside the ship. There episode where they almost got hacked was when they connected the two networks to be able to receive data from another ship.

        Most places with SCADA systems could learn a lot from that show about security.

      • (Score: 1) by mrMagoo on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:19PM

        by mrMagoo (4165) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:19PM (#37694)

        They also had a lot of analog stuff.

        The producers must have had to dredge a tech landfill to get the clunky phones they used.

        --
        "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment." -Originally attributed to Nasrudin
        • (Score: 2) by mendax on Tuesday April 29 2014, @07:07PM

          by mendax (2840) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @07:07PM (#37796)

          The producers must have had to dredge a tech landfill to get the clunky phones they used.

          As I recall from the commentary on the DVD's, the phones came off a submarine. But they didn't built a lot of props for that show to get the realism of the ship being old.

          --
          It's really quite a simple choice: Life, Death, or Los Angeles.
      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday April 29 2014, @05:54PM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday April 29 2014, @05:54PM (#37765) Journal

        As I recall, in the newer show,

        BG was due either for a refit or to be scrapped because its systems were so outdated. Because of this they were spared the hacking that happened to the other ships in the fleet.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 29 2014, @02:37PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 29 2014, @02:37PM (#37676)

    I believe the official term is "planetary disks".

    • (Score: 2) by Woods on Tuesday April 29 2014, @02:50PM

      by Woods (2726) <woods12@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 29 2014, @02:50PM (#37682) Journal

      I see what you did there.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 08 2014, @05:31PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 08 2014, @05:31PM (#40965)

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  • (Score: 5, Funny) by wantkitteh on Tuesday April 29 2014, @02:43PM

    by wantkitteh (3362) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @02:43PM (#37680) Homepage Journal

    Security by Ludditism

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by VLM on Tuesday April 29 2014, @02:54PM

      by VLM (445) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @02:54PM (#37683)

      I spent some time in .mil and .com, and in .com when some liar tells the accountants that "this thing will have a productive life of 20 years" the accountants have this weird wink and nod thing going where they passive aggressively say OK and the liar gets his exec bonus, but everyone knows it'll be too small, obsolete, and replaced in 3 years regardless of this 20 year BS. In .mil where the accountants carry M16s, this wink and nod stuff doesn't happen and you really are stuck with it for the full 20 year lifetime. Or 50 year or whatever, the specifics don't matter much.

      Also .mil has been deep into appliance operation and abstraction, and .com just gives that lip service or says its good for increasing sales to consumers but they'd never do it themselves or whatever. .mil asks does the appliance work? Are the appliance operators qualified on paper? Well then its all good, and what some hippie in Berkley or SV claims is the latest fashion style isn't very interesting to these guys at all.

      And if it costs more in the long run, thats good because thats called empire building and is universally admired. You want to be the General in charge of the $100M project not the General in charge of the $25M project.

      Also the hope WRT the revolving door is to wander in and out of .gov and .com to maximize personal return, so a "career length" program is just about correct.

      So its not Ludditism as opposed to the tech upgrade treadmill, so much as seeing themselves outside the treadmill completely. Why yes, you do have a very nice treadmill there, but we don't do treadmills here so we're not terribly interested.

      • (Score: 1) by linsane on Tuesday April 29 2014, @10:28PM

        by linsane (633) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @10:28PM (#37900)

        Concur. my .com customers want to know what the 18 month ROI is, .mil ones want three ft of paperwork including why i'm still going to be in business in 25 years to support it all...

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Thexalon on Tuesday April 29 2014, @02:55PM

      by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @02:55PM (#37684)

      But you have to admit it works: If there are air gaps and multiple trained humans between the general network and whatever it is you are trying to secure, then in order to breach the system you have to social engineer the multiple trained humans. And while the bad guys could get their hands on 8" floppies, they'd have a much harder time doing that than, say, poking Internet Explorer the right way from a malicious website.

      I don't think that's overkill for something that could kill millions of people with a single mistake.

      --
      The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:02PM

        by VLM (445) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:02PM (#37685)

        A large component of a strategic weapon deterrent is maximizing uptime and hiding downtime (if any).

        So using MSIE would be fairly idiotic because every "security expurt" who got his credentials out of a cracker jack box can tell exactly when and how and why your strategic deterrent isn't a strategic deterrent. But nobody really knows when the 8 inch floppies are working or not, and for a strategic deterrent weapon system that is just awesome.

        Another thing to consider WRT maximization of uptime and hiding downtime is there seems to be absolutely no upside for public release of anything relating to a gradual upgrade or a forklift upgrade. So as a psyop I'm surprised they didn't just show of racks of R390 radios (I used to own one... nice radio, still have the "mobile" R392 model in my basement) and B-17 command radios and such just to mess with the other guys.

        So say they have actually moved in secret to the Amazon web services cloud. What's in it for them to tell us all is ..... uh what exactly?

      • (Score: 2) by Blackmoore on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:22PM

        by Blackmoore (57) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:22PM (#37696) Journal
        So let's assume that they are running one of the "big boxes" that was sold in the 1980's; even if you knew what OS it was running (and i kinda expect that it isn't - i expect a single purpose designed for the location)
        • there is the air-gap and multiple layers of military personnel in the way.
        • 8 inch floppies are really not easy to get.
        • the system does not have internet, modem, USB, or other means commercially available to transfer files.
        • even a new hard drive would be difficult to install without an arcane physical interface; and the appropriate paperwork allowing the shutdown of the hardware.

        i think i'm ok with this.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Sir Finkus on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:25PM

        by Sir Finkus (192) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:25PM (#37697) Journal

        Well, you'd think, but the launch code for many nuclear sites were literally 00000000 for more than a decade. The only reason we haven't blown us or someone else up accidentally yet is pure luck. If you're interested in this kind of stuff, I'd highly recommend Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Thexalon on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:45PM

          by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:45PM (#37708)

          Well, you'd think, but the launch code for many nuclear sites were literally 00000000 for more than a decade.

          Ok, let's say you're General Jack D Ripper and you're trying to get the US to launch the missiles, so you pretend to be President Merkin Muffley and send in possible codes to convince the silos that you do have the authority. You only need to get one of, say, 100 silos to actually launch in order to trigger the nuclear war you want so much, but you don't know the launch code (only President Muffley has that).

          Would you use one of your 100 guesses on "00000000"? Probably not, because you'd think that was far too stupid a code to be actually used. After all, your post presumes that 1. "00000000" is a dumb code to use, and 2. I as an average person wouldn't think they'd actually use it because it's so dumb. But that means it's actually smart to use that one, because it's precisely the one I wouldn't guess.

          --
          The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
          • (Score: 2) by githaron on Tuesday April 29 2014, @05:07PM

            by githaron (581) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @05:07PM (#37746)

            Until General Jack D Ripper's four-year old comes for a visit...

          • (Score: 2) by tomtomtom on Wednesday April 30 2014, @08:34AM

            by tomtomtom (340) on Wednesday April 30 2014, @08:34AM (#38016)

            That's all well and good but one analogy to think about is the fact that many thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of people play the lottery with the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 every week, and continue to do so even despite the fact that it is well known that large numbers of people do this (which significantly increases their expected losses on buying the ticket and means they'll never win a big jackpot, ever).

            I'd definitely add the all zeroes code onto my list to try, along with all the other "obvious" codes like 12345678. They have a better than random chance of being right in most cases; and if, in the worst case, the codes were chosen truly randomly by a computer then you have as good a chance as any other code.

        • (Score: 2) by egcagrac0 on Tuesday April 29 2014, @05:32PM

          by egcagrac0 (2705) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @05:32PM (#37755)

          Thank goodness they changed it to CPE1704TKS.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by wantkitteh on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:54PM

        by wantkitteh (3362) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:54PM (#37716) Homepage Journal

        Hell yeah, the people who designed it wrote the book on paranoid and... I was going to write "over-engineered the hell out of the security", but as far as security of nuclear weapons goes, there's no such thing as over-engineering. I can imagine some contractors pitching to replace some part of the system with an Internet connec - *sound of angry security scheme designers smashing the presentation laptop to pieces*

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 29 2014, @04:00PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 29 2014, @04:00PM (#37717)

        I agree with all of that and would like to add:
        If it is working just fine, do you really want to try upgrading a bunch of stuff and risk something going catastrophically wrong?

      • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Tuesday April 29 2014, @04:14PM

        by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Tuesday April 29 2014, @04:14PM (#37723) Homepage
        > And while the bad guys could get their hands on 8" floppies, they'd have a much harder time doing that...

        Speak for yourself! http://fatphil.org/images/floppies_for_hackers.jpg
        --
        I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:04PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:04PM (#37687)

    Let it rot a bit!

    • (Score: 2) by pe1rxq on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:27PM

      by pe1rxq (844) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:27PM (#37698) Homepage

      As someone living outside of the US that sounds like a great idea.
      With a bit of luck it will be very hard to actually launch a missile which makes the world a bit safer.
      (Remember that the US is the only country which has proven that they will actually use them against an enemy)

      • (Score: 2) by Dunbal on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:35PM

        by Dunbal (3515) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:35PM (#37702)

        It won't be hard, it will just take about 20 seconds longer while the disk drive head reads the floppy accompanied by that "seek" sound we old farts know so well...

        • (Score: 1) by That_Dude on Tuesday April 29 2014, @04:17PM

          by That_Dude (2503) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @04:17PM (#37724)

          Damn, that sound was irritating!

          Anyhow, I just wonder how many bad sectors they are away from system failure. I tried to read some of my old 5-1/4" floppies a few years ago and over a third of the data was gone due to bad sectors. These disks were about 12 years old. Doesn't exactly inspire confidence in national defense does it?

          • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Dunbal on Tuesday April 29 2014, @04:22PM

            by Dunbal (3515) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @04:22PM (#37726)

            Well the good thing about a failure in a system you're never going to use is - no one will notice it failing because it will never be used. You just need to make the other guy think it's 100% operational. And if they do use it, well who is going to argue that the missile from silo ABC took an extra 10 minutes to launch, when the entire country has been destroyed?

            I'm sure the Russians are using something very similar, although if the rumors about Perimeter are true and there is a system sitting there in auto-launch mode waiting for constant delay commands, hmm, yeah bad sectors there might be MORE of a problem :)

            • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Wednesday April 30 2014, @01:34PM

              by evilviper (1760) on Wednesday April 30 2014, @01:34PM (#38088) Homepage Journal

              And if they do use it, well who is going to argue that the missile from silo ABC took an extra 10 minutes to launch, when the entire country has been destroyed?

              That extra 10 minutes gives your opponent plenty of time to nail you with their bunker-busters before you can get your first shot off.

              OR it gives your opponent plenty of time to launch their retaliatory missiles, rather than your initial strike disabling them as intended.

              --
              Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Nerdfest on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:13PM

    by Nerdfest (80) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:13PM (#37689)

    Stahl described the disk she was shown as "gigantic," and said she had never seen one that big.

    How could they possibly miss the "That's what she said" on that one.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Woods on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:40PM

      by Woods (2726) <woods12@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:40PM (#37706) Journal

      [Could not think of a way to work it in]

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 29 2014, @04:03PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 29 2014, @04:03PM (#37720)

      Stahl described the di*k she was shown as "gigantic," and said she had never seen one that big.

      FTFY ;-)

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by SrLnclt on Tuesday April 29 2014, @04:53PM

        by SrLnclt (1473) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @04:53PM (#37741)

        And that reaction was just for the floppy disk... just wait until she gets a peak at the hard disk. Once you go 1975 you never go back.

        • (Score: 1) by quacking duck on Tuesday April 29 2014, @05:01PM

          by quacking duck (1395) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @05:01PM (#37745)

          just wait until she gets a peak at the hard disk.

          Intentional or otherwise, this mis-spelling works great in context.

    • (Score: 1) by zaxus on Tuesday April 29 2014, @04:45PM

      by zaxus (3455) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @04:45PM (#37734)

      Stahl described the disk she was shown as "gigantic," and said she had never seen one that big.

      I love it when you call me Big Floppy...
      (with apologies to Notorious B.I.G.)

      --
      "I do have a cause, though. It is obscenity...I'm for it." - Tom Lerher
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by stormwyrm on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:18PM

    by stormwyrm (717) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:18PM (#37693) Journal

    I wonder where they go to get such ancient tech. I suppose they must be keeping some lucky manufacturer of such otherwise obsolete equipment in business. These things wear out and break down, and I highly doubt that they still have a lot of the original hardware that was installed when they were state of the art forty years ago. I don't even know where you can buy even 5¼" floppies these days, which is what I used to use with my first real computer, much less obtain a newly manufactured disk drive to read and write to the same.

    --
    Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate.
    • (Score: 2) by Dunbal on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:32PM

      by Dunbal (3515) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:32PM (#37700)

      It could just be a case of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Especially when nuclear armageddon is one of the consequences of a "glitch" in the upgrade...

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by VLM on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:42PM

      by VLM (445) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:42PM (#37707)

      "I don't even know where you can buy even 5¼" floppies these days"

      Try google. Floppydisk.com sells NIB 5.25 disks for about eighty cents a piece, a good price. A brand new in box 3.5 inch drive is around $20-$40 with the higher price more likely to honestly be NIB as opposed to pulls.

      Talk to the retrocomputing people and you'll get some good leads. .mil of course doesn't need this, they just fill a warehouse at initial construction and let the internal supply system "do its thing".

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by VLM on Tuesday April 29 2014, @04:03PM

        by VLM (445) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @04:03PM (#37719)

        "Talk to the retrocomputing people and you'll get some good leads"

        And about two minutes ago the classiccmp.org mailing list guys were discussing that the same floppydisk.com site sells 8 inch sealed in box disks (aka new in box) for merely 10x the cost of similar sealed in box new retail 5.25 disks, although its not terribly popular so they don't advertise it on the site. So $90 will get you ten new 8 inch disks.

        Its actually cheaper to buy NIB 5.25 from floppydisk.com than NIB 3.5 from amazon in some situations, which is kinda weird.

  • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:51PM

    by kaszz (4211) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @03:51PM (#37715) Journal

    I think we found how to source 8" floppies ..! ;-)

    Perhaps they have some 5.25" and 3.5" too. Because they ought to buy them new somewhere?

    • (Score: 1) by jackb_guppy on Tuesday April 29 2014, @04:50PM

      by jackb_guppy (3560) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @04:50PM (#37738)

      I know 8 were still made throughout 1996. We used them withOBM S/36. S/36 came with either 8 or 5 1/4 both were 1,2 meg sector for sector match. So mount an 8 on at least a PC-at to opt from big to small or vid-a-verse.

    • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Tuesday April 29 2014, @05:13PM

      by mhajicek (51) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @05:13PM (#37749)

      No, they just keep extending the disks tour of duty.

      • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Tuesday April 29 2014, @09:43PM

        by kaszz (4211) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @09:43PM (#37874) Journal

        Bitrot will be their stalker ;-)