Practical Technology

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Preventing your own WikiLeaks

As I continue to watch the WikiLeaks saga, I can’ t help thinking, no matter what you think of WikiLeaks, it never would have become gotten so big if it wasn’t for some dumb security mistakes. It’s not, as Jason Perlow pointed out, that the system design itself was defective, it was how it was managed in the field that lead to a flood of secret documents being revealed.

No, Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) is about as secure as any network can be. But, US Army intelligence analyst, Private First Class Bradley Manning showed how even the best laid security plans are useless if they’re not followed. While SIPRNet materials seemed to have been shared over a secured network, the laptops that Manning used to vacuum down the gigabytes of data, now in WikiLeak’s hands, had a CD/DVD burner on it. According to a Wired report, Manning said, “I would come in with music on a CD-RW labeled with something like ‘Lady Gaga,’ erase the music then write a compressed split file.”

There was no need for any sophisticated network tapping or Mission Impossible heroics here; all he needed was a PC and a blank optical disc and he was in business. Argh!

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