Filesharing and National Security

Filesharing and National Security

Filesharing may be dubiously legal (or maybe not so dubious), but until recently its only problem was IP infringement. That changed Tuesday at a hearing of the Government Reform Committee on inadvertent filesharing, where Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) said he was considering new laws to solve the threat P2P posed to homeland security. The threat? That government employees may accidentally share classified documents on their computers, making them available to terrists or organized crime. The problem with filesharing is that congressional staff are inept. Waxman said he didn't want to shut down the networks, but rather to strike “a balance that protects sensitive government, personal and corporate information and copyright laws.” The Committee had conducted searches on Limewire that turned up sensitive personal, corporate, and even military documents. From this and stories like the Department of Transportation official whose daughter installed a P2P program on the family computer and accidentally shared official DOT documents, the Committee concluded that national security was at risk.

Leaking classified documents is already a crime (unless, that is, you can un-classify them before people find out). To be sure, researchers have reported that sensitive personal information shows up on filesharing networks. Not everyone is privacy-savvy; spammers get some return on Nigerian Scam emails, too, but the solution isn't to ban email.

If your staff are too inept to keep their sensitive documents out of the folders they share on Limewire (what do they do, keep their Classified folder in their iTunes Library folder for safekeeping?), the problem isn't Limewire. The problem is your staff. It doesn't inspire a whole lot of confidence in Congress when they say government employees aren't smart enough to keep classified information classified; nor is it a confidence boost to hear that instead of prohibiting filesharing on government computers, the best solution they can think of is to outlaw it altogether.

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pcguy1865

Agreed, not a security problem.

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pcguy1865

As an IT Specialist for the Govt I will tell you that users are users, whether they are with private companies or the Govt. They will do some strange things sometimes, weather it is installing questionable (on a Govt PC) softare or leaving their Govt laptop at the airport by accident. Stuff happens. There are many systems in place to make sure that users follow policy on what they do on their PC's. However it is difficult to manage what a user does on his/her home PC. Or even when they walk away with that laptop on an official trip. I think the issue here is that this person alledgedly had sensitive information on his home PC. That is not an IT issue nor can an IT change fix this problem. Thumbdrives, CD's, DVD's? These are really disciplinary issues.

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Vmaster

I'd like to know why they are taking classified information home? Sounds illegal to me.

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erin

Working from home is not uncommon - but I do wonder why the DoT employee made her work files accessible to her teenaged daughter. What I read was that no classified information was released, and the only sensitive data contained in the exposed documents was that of the employee herself. So it wasn't a huge security breach as much as a wakeup call.

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bholstege

so American citizens should be punished because government employees are idiots.

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Fuetasoeq

Like many have already posted, this is just another tool for the government and their high paying lobbyist pals to find a way to over-regulate or takedown a thorn on the side of RIAA without them having to spend the tons of money on lawyers.

Only a dumb, idiotic government employee would install limewire on a government computer or take sensitive documents home in their flash drives and put it on their home computers. I used to service high speed network scanners and copiers for DoD. I was amazed at the little knowledge and idiotic mistakes their IT people made. I underwent a 4 hour declassification procedure before I was allowed to enter the "clean room" to work on their equipment that was brought out to me in that room. I could not believe the mistakes they kept making that I had to correct and show them (mind you I am NOT Certified but I am a MaximumPC Maniac from waaaay back before the Boot days!)I kept thinking to myself "are these Bozos the ones protecting the sensitive data?" I swear I started seeing them with red noses and big clown shoes.

I agree that they are just trying to blame the masses and stick their mistakes in the pile and call it a day, the old "Shift the blame" technique when we all know that they can block all of that easily with a simple device known as Cymphonix.

Fuetaso

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TheDude

Although completely stupid, I still love reading when the government makes huge screw ups or doesn't want to deal with problems. They quickly just say its everyone's fault and then convine to give themselves a raise and make some stupid law.

Once again the circle goes around and around, guess we'll see what happens next.

"Let me explain something to you. I am not Mr. Lebowski. You're Mr. Lebowski. I'm the Dude. So, that's what you call me. You know, that, or his dudeness, or duder, or el duderino, if you're not into the whole brevity thing." -- The Big Lebowski

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MantaBase

Unless someone is knowingly and intensionally violating federal protocols/policy, the scenario presented involving the DOT cannot happen with truly classified information. Period.

National Security has become a loaded phrase to get things passed IMO.

The "official DOT documents" were either not classified and deemed important to national security, or the individual who put them on the computer violated national protocol/policy/law. A violation that would lead to a real investigation. His daughter only played out the scenario that is so well known - it led to policy change many years ago. I mean, come on - classified information sitting on a computer that an uncleared person has access to?

I thinks the Chairman may be under more of an influence from lobbyists than actually desiring to protect national security. While I agree that P2P can and is used for illegal purposes, in this case, Waxman is not talking about any of those as far as I can tell, but instead, blanketing issues of free information with fear. After all, is not any document from the DOT an official DOT document? And if so - and if not classified - does it not fall under FIA?

Just my thoughts at the moment.

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erin

I totally agree, by the way, that this is more the result of MPAA and RIAA lobbying than any real security concerns.

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Darth Ninja

if you to dumb to install limewire then you just should take your PC to Goodwill...


As for "Department of Transportation official whose daughter installed a P2P program on the family computer" you keep important docs on a public PC?!?! - wow your to dumb to live.

'nuf said
¤Ψ«Ďaŗŧh_Ñiñja»Ψ¤

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blackzarg

Ridiculous.

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Duz2600

Oh, no! Now the RIAA knows all the government's secrets!

Everyone knows Limewire was replaced by Frostwire, that is off shore and doesn't have the post Grokster RIAA backdoors and trackers!

Really, it is beyond stupid, that government employees can't keep a secret, when they have signed security documents which can mean prison for life when they screw-up!

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omnipc

Companies all over the U.S. have strict policy that prevent user from installing unapproved softwares.

With the budget of the U.S. government, could they hire a decent IT specialist? Or is Congress dumbing down its hiring practice?

As the DOT documents, it is bullshit. Who cares about road contours, base plan, or structural details.

what's in your pc?

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