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Feds Now Allowed To Use Internet

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the welcome-to-the-web dept.

The Internet 113

fast66 writes "Nextgov reports that a new court order allows the Department of the Interior to connect to the Internet, six years after the federal agency was ordered to disconnect. District Judge James Robertson wrote in his ruling, 'I find that the consent order is of no further use and must be vacated.' 'The ... disconnected offices and bureaus may be connected.' He added that his ruling was based not on evidence but 'on a legal conclusion that it is not my role to weigh IT security risks.'"

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and this is important... WHY? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23498922)

so they now can watch the pr0n and play online games instead of the ubiquitous solitaire. big deal, yeah, most certainly news worthy.

Re:and this is important... WHY? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23498972)

Have you played the Lemmiwinks game [southparkstudios.com] ?

Would you be willing to deny that experience to any government employee?

listen (1)

bobwrit (1232148) | more than 6 years ago | (#23498936)

So now they can listen to all the opposition from youtube listeners? Do we WANT that?

Re:listen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23499846)

No, the feds still block youtube. At least DOD does (which is not DOI no shit sherlock).

The decision title (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23498948)

The decision was entitled, "The internet: Serious Business."

Re:The decision title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23499376)

Judges understanding that they're not the experts at IT? Microsoft saying they'll support ODF but not OOXML? Geez.. next thing the ISO will have techies instead of bureaucrats right? Right?

*crickets-chirping*

Re:The decision title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23501898)

Network computerized systems = Cylon exploits

Tomorrow's news: (5, Funny)

symbolset (646467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23498954)

Interior department compromised by botnet.

Re:Tomorrow's news: (4, Interesting)

antek9 (305362) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499336)

That's what I was wondering: Imagine they had indeed strictly obeyed that order for six years now, and would just 'finally' re-plug their > six year old PCs and laptops, having missed security and virus signature updates for such a long time: That would be like they say, when the cat's away...

Watch out for new torrents of sensible data from the same evening on. But of course, that's just my little hysterical hyperbole, they wouldn't have taken that order by the word, now, would they? They cannot, no, can they?

Re:Tomorrow's news: (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23500952)

Um, you do realize that you can set up an internal WSUS server and manually sync it with an external WSUS server and keep computers on a disconnected network up to date, right?

Good, because that's what I did when we first got kicked off. I haven't worked there for a few years so I don't know if they kept it up, but it's not hard to do - and certainly not hard to do in preparation of re-connection.

I guarantee you, the Trust Bureau's probably have networks secure then most military networks. The scrutiny on them from the courts and plantiff's is huge and they know it.

Funny how the person who started the lawsuit also happens to own a bank and wants the trust fund moved to her bank for administration. Funny how that never comes up - it's always just the "evil government". No, there could never be any other ulterior motives here.

Puhleeze....

Re:Tomorrow's news: (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 6 years ago | (#23503702)

Yeah, i reinstalled windows home on my gf's comp and within 1 minute of connecting to the net to get the updates, the machine was owned...how do i know....cuz notepad was opening on its on, the taskmanager would not open, and i no longer had access to the control panel as Administrator of the machine!

Anyways, I just hope they are smart enough to use OEMS with the service pack discs to do reinstalls before going on the net but then again this is the US gov we are talking about

Re:Tomorrow's news: (2, Funny)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 6 years ago | (#23500362)

Hasn't this judge seen the pilot for the current Battlestar Galactica series? This is madness!

Re:Tomorrow's news: (5, Funny)

Uncle Focker (1277658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23500818)

This is madness!
No, THIS IS SPARTA!

Re:Tomorrow's news: (3, Funny)

Digestromath (1190577) | more than 6 years ago | (#23502486)

This is madness!
No, THIS IS SPARTA!
Mick Dundee: "Thats not a Sparta, THIS IS A SPARTA."

Well he's right (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23498958)

It is not the job of a judge to weigh that risk.

Re:Well he's right (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499292)

Agreed. That decision needs to be made by the organization's administrative staff in collaboration with their IT department. Just like in a real enterprise.

Re:Well he's right (3, Informative)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499950)

Not even close. His duty was to interpet and adminster the law. The law being at least in part what was already ruled on. I applaud him for recognizing that he had no idea on the subject matter. But there was nothing stopping him from entertaining Amicus curiae from the slashdot crowd.
Real people and damages occurred as a result of the way the morons ran their business and the original ruling recognized that. This judges response of "it's not my job" is typical bullshit. If it wasn't his job then he should have kept his mouth shut or recused himself. I doub't he set any legal precedants today.

Re:Well he's right (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 6 years ago | (#23502282)

But there was nothing stopping him from entertaining Amicus curiae from the slashdot crowd.
Apart from common sense. Half of the responses would say they'll only be truly secure when they switch to Linux, and the other half will start ranting about traps, hot grits, Natalie Portman, icy urine and the GNAA.

Re:Well he's right (2, Insightful)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 6 years ago | (#23500098)

But it is the job of a judge to determine whether or not the agency complied with the earlier ruling telling them to secure their systems. And for those of you who are unfamiliar with this case, the only reason why the DoI was forced off the Internet by the initial ruling was incompetence over a period of many years to secure the data on their system and willful intransigence to do anything about it. And for those of you who want to know what could be so necessary for the DoI to secure, it was the Bureau of Indian Affairs records of payments to tribal members. So, yes, the DoI was leaving personal financial information unsecured.

But s'all good, right? Because judges shouldn't determine risks of unsecured data. In fact, by not doing so, he actually said it's not a judge's job to determine whether or not an earlier ruling was complied with. I hope all of those who agree with the parent comment (and marked it insightful to boot) get this judge when it comes time to determine if its OK that (a) a bank who holds their financial information who in a continually unsecured state, (b) when the bank has been told for years to secure that data and doesn't, (c) when an earlier court has told said bank to stay off the Internet until it secures said information, and then decides that its OK to let the bank off the hook because it's not the court's job to determine the risk of unsecured data.

But, of course, to you right-wing pukes, it's the government, it's a judge, and so it's good that this decision was made to let some dumbass agency back onto the web.

Transparency. (2, Funny)

briester (1031918) | more than 6 years ago | (#23501206)

I'm sure that its important that only the DoI know how much has been paid in reparations~

Re:Well he's right (2, Interesting)

overunderunderdone (521462) | more than 6 years ago | (#23501274)

But, of course, to you right-wing pukes, it's the government, it's a judge, and so it's good that this decision was made to let some dumbass agency back onto the web.
I agree with the substance of your comments. But, I don't understand the "right-wing pukes" dig. What exactly is "right-wing" about comments applauding this decision? It doesn't seem like an issue that cuts neatly into a left/right conflict. Judicial overreach in the initial decision maybe? But, the defendant is a government bureaucracy getting it's comeuppance for incompetence... not a lot of sympathy from the right there. The comments applauding this latest decision don't seem so much right-wing as arrogant-geek: "Internet good!" , "Judges not smart enough to understand technology". Insofar as your comment focusses on bureaucratic incompetence it's probably the closest to a right-wing comment to this point. It's almost Reaganesque: "government is not the solution to our problem; government IS the problem."

Re:Well he's right (0, Flamebait)

overunderunderdone (521462) | more than 6 years ago | (#23501372)

Further making my point. As it turns out the (skeptical of govenrment) judge [wikipedia.org] who initially ruled against the DOI was a Reagan appointee and the (trusting of government) Judge [wikipedia.org] that now rules for them is a Clinton appointee. it's not surprising since that's exactly what one would expect given the ideological bent you would suppose given who appointed them.

Re:Well he's right (1)

jimrob (1092327) | more than 6 years ago | (#23501882)

But, of course, to you right-wing pukes, it's the government, it's a judge, and so it's good that this decision was made to let some dumbass agency back onto the web.
Dude, that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Most right-wing types abhor judicial legislation and most government function in general. Methinks you've drank too much of the anti-GW Kool-Ade.

Diggers must have got their mod points today... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23503782)

nt

Re:Well he's right (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 6 years ago | (#23505288)

No, it's not the job of a judge to determine if an agency is secure enough. Any more than it is the job of a judge to determine if a bank is secure enough.

The job of a judge is to preside over, and sometimes find guilt or non-guilt, if criminal, or responsibility or lack thereof if civil, a case according to the law. I doubt there is any law that says a bank needs to be so secure. Instead, the law states responsibility after the fact. So, if nothing has gone missing, there is no case, dismissed.

In this scenario, there was damages originally. That should have resulted in fines and/or jail time. (Unfortunately, this is a government institution rendering them almost immune to either.) And maybe a court-ordered security overhaul from an independent (non-governmental) third party. (I hear IBM has security teams that they send to places to help with IT security, for example.) With a reasonable time limit (6 years is stupid). That's the scope of a judge.

The absolute most that this judge should have done was mandate a security audit, and, if passed, vacate the disconnect order, while, if failed, mandate that a security company (not necessarily the auditors) be hired to bring the security up to modern standards, which aren't perfect, pass the audit, within a specific amount of time, say 6 months, and failure to do so would result in piercing government veils to hold individuals in contempt (read: jail time and/or personal fines).

Instead, the judge has basically claimed this is going on far too long. Which is true. Though, as I type this (as a right-wing puke myself), I'm starting to think that dealing with the problem directly yet without judicial involvement (trust the experts) might have been more wise.

Re:Well he's right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23502690)

''It's been inconvenient and slowed down our work,'' Gary Garrison, a spokesman with the BIA, said. ''A lot of us are looking forward to having this modern convenience back.''

when you have thousands if not millions of peoples personal information on your systems, i believe it Is the job a judge to weigh that risk if the company themselves are doing an inadequate job. and i mean all they need this for is convenience? cut them off again until they can find a better reason than conveniently exposing peoples sensitive private info to the world

finally... (0, Offtopic)

purduemike (1212076) | more than 6 years ago | (#23498962)

I waited 6 years to get back on slashdot. And now i can watch pretty girls dance on youtube.

He's been mulling this over for 6 years? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23499008)

No wonder it takes our government so long to get anything done...

You've got to be kidding me! (5, Funny)

Synthaxx (1138473) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499014)

You mean they've not been watching us all this time?!
Think of all the [Redacted] i could have [Redacted]!
Or all the [Redacted] i could have sold!
Now they tell us this.
I hope they [Redacted]

Edit: FBI_Smith(Admin), reason: "Nothing to see here, move along"

Re:You've got to be kidding me! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23499178)

*copies the redacted parts into a text editor*


You mean they've not been watching us all this time?!
Think of all the goatse pictures i could have salivated over!
Or all the gay FBI porn i could have sold!
Now they tell us this.
I hope they fall into a massively dilated asshole and suffocate.

Re:You've got to be kidding me! (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#23500216)

Our friends at the FBI are apparently understaffed and ignorant [foxnews.com] , according to a whistleblower of possibly middle-eastern descent. Now's the time to [redacted] and schematics of [redacted]. Allahu Akbar!

Also, some brave freedom fighterchucked eggs at Ballmer [google.com] .

Yes, I got it (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23499020)

First Post!

(at least from the Department of the Interior)

Re:Yes, I got it (0, Offtopic)

antek9 (305362) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499352)

Moderators, go and get a sense of humor here, ok? It's especially funny (for the first time here on slashdot?) that this first post didn't quite make it better than to come in in ninth place.

No internet connectivity since 2001? (4, Interesting)

Coopjust (872796) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499024)

I wonder if they'll update the machines beforehand. Anyone remember how long it takes for a Pre-SP2 copy of Windows without a good AV and firewall takes to get a worm? Minutes?

In all seriousness, I hope that they take some precautionary steps before plugging in the LAN cables...

Re:No internet connectivity since 2001? (3, Insightful)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499064)

Well lets be honest here

1) If their cables where unplugged in the first place, their IT department is made of fail. There is no reason to NOT have a LAN regardless of your internet need.

2) If their IT was worth the scratch they are getting paid, they pulled the updates needed and applied them without the use of autoupdate.

Granted I fear I just missed the joke, but hey its /. that wouldnt be anything new here.

Re:No internet connectivity since 2001? (3, Informative)

sfjoe (470510) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499254)

I don't know about this particular instance but it's not uncommon for a government agency to outsource their IT work to consultants like Accenture and IBM. While it's fun to mock government incompetence, the fail might well come from the private sector.

Re:No internet connectivity since 2001? (1)

x_MeRLiN_x (935994) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499844)

1. X pays Y to do Z
2. Z is completed badly
3. X reviews Y's performance
4. Go to 1

I can't seem to understand why you think X is free from blame.

Re:No internet connectivity since 2001? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23502744)

while this is certainly true and very much in practice, there are enormous fines for such incompetence between the two parties. and if that "were" the case in this particular situation and this department was outsourcing to ibm or another company then they would have made millions and it would've been the third party that feels the shit roll down hill
i know because thats what i do

Re:No internet connectivity since 2001? (1)

wmwilson01 (912533) | more than 6 years ago | (#23504298)

While I would pretty much agree, I'd also point out that there's a ton of government bureaucracy that those companies have to deal with too, as well as a lot of legacy cruft. So, nothing's ever simple. Even the smallest, most basic tasks can get bogged down because of issues in the environment that are outside of the control of the contractor, such as management turf wars, or lack of management, or whatever.

Re:No internet connectivity since 2001? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23501878)

If their IT was worth the scratch they are getting paid, they pulled the updates needed and applied them without the use of autoupdate.

Surely that's the point - they were told to disconnect from the net because their IT dept was incompetant

Re:No internet connectivity since 2001? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23499086)

It took me 15 seconds back in 2005 to get an IRC bot and a worm.

Re:No internet connectivity since 2001? (4, Funny)

Suhas (232056) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499462)

15 seconds? Ridiculous. What were you running on, Pentium 75Mhz?

Re:No internet connectivity since 2001? (1)

Nemo's Night Sky (1051346) | more than 6 years ago | (#23501628)

Back during blaster a variant crashed remote procedure call while i was still in windows setup. the computer was connected to a docsis cable modem. couldn't even make it to the desktop without a worm. simple solution but aggravating.

Re:No internet connectivity since 2001? (4, Interesting)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499258)

I think this is usually a game played at security/hacker conferences. Hook up unpatched windows box, time it until it gets an infection. [xkcd.com] From what I remember reading it generally takes less than a minute. As of 2005, one company's estimate was twelve minutes to infection [realtechnews.com] . The last time I booted windows (box connected directly to the net without a router) I had the firewall in verbose mode and it registered an average of two intrusion attempts per minute.

Generally speaking, there's a reason that windows machines come with AV and firewalls these days. I'm sure the most conservative estimates of time-to-pwn would be less than the time it would take to download updates.

Re:No internet connectivity since 2001? (2, Interesting)

AdamPee (1243018) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499540)

I can tell you for a fact that an unupdated XP machine can get a virus before I could download a copy of Avast, much less official updates.

12 Minutes (0)

Swe3tDave (246955) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499356)

Anyone remember how long it takes for a Pre-SP2 copy of Windows without a good AV and firewall takes to get a worm? Minutes?
It takes 12 Minutes for an unprotected PC to be infected on the internet.

http://www.realtechnews.com/posts/1511 [realtechnews.com]

Re:No internet connectivity since 2001? (1)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499898)

I wonder if they'll update the machines beforehand. Anyone remember how long it takes for a Pre-SP2 copy of Windows without a good AV and firewall takes to get a worm? Minutes?

The key isn't having AV and FW software but just to be patched. Yes defense in depth helps but if you fix the exploits (with service packs) and don't do stupid things like download p2p software, software found on usenet, or run insecure programs like IE and Outlook then you won't have any problems. Given I have a router and it blocks incoming connections so essentially I have a firewall, I don't run any security software on my PC, I don't use IE except for banking, I don't use Outlook and I don't have any malware of any kind on my system. I even download stuff off usenet w/o problems (probably just get lucky there). The point is that having patched systems and common sense is really all that is needed to keep a system secure. AV and FW software just chew up mounds of CPU cycles and RAM. I consider them more harm than good. YMMV

Re:No internet connectivity since 2001? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23501010)

I wonder if they'll update the machines beforehand.
WSUS, disconnected networks - it's a common scenario and hardly rocket science... even if they haven't been patching all along, it's pretty simple to catch up before you re-connect. Again if you read the article (I know, asking allot of slashdot) they are rolling out in phases, so hopefully they are checking things like that as they roll internet connectivity back out.

That was silly.. (4, Insightful)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499040)

Well, a judge should not be making smart calls what governmental policy should be. Silly laws will be paid for by Congress, but I digress.

Is it smart that the US governmental departments can now get online? Not in my opinion. These networks should be segregated from the unwashed internet as there is no data security or guarantees of anything except being hacked. Even the most "uber secure" area can be hacked with varying degrees of effort, either externally or internally. This just opens a vector that was once unopened.

Not smart.

Re:That was silly.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23499154)

It dosnt mean the databases are all availible online. It means that the workers themselves are allowed to access the internet. There is a big difference there. Not to mention that if you RTFA it talks about how they werent able to update their own web page and it has just displayed a message saying it was unavailible.

Re:That was silly.. (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499156)

> These networks should be segregated from the
> unwashed internet as there is no data security or
> guarantees of anything except being hacked.

Of course the Judge probably has internet access. Somehow it seems ok for a Judges court documents to be compromised, but

All of this could have been solved with a few $59 dollar routers between these offices and the wide woolly world of the web.

Nothing is totally unhackable.

But in this case some judge "deemed that Indian trust accounts were vulnerable to computer hackers" and that justified a return to the 1960's. A judge "deemed"!!!

Why wasn't executive privileged invoked and the judge told to go to hell?

Re:That was silly.. (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499412)

$59 dollar routers, are you a dumbass? The networks use NAT for anything internal, Linksys routers don't have magic "Can't Hack Me" force shields.

What is it with these arm chair security experts? Some of us could butt heads with Bruce Schneir and Marcus Ranum and then we see people who are like "ooh WEP sux see I know security, get a router!" with no understanding of network architecture whatsoever.

Re:That was silly.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23501052)

oh but i beg to differ. my router has been running for 32 days and its perfectly secu$#Ã4#*$`ÃY*#ÃD$Ã$#KJ3RW#$
CONNECTION LOST

Re:That was silly.. (2, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499188)

"Even the most "uber secure" area c..."

haha, hack the ICBM com network, I dare you.

Yes, lets not let people have access to their government, lets keep everything paper based and in some dusty book and the bottom of some building where the public can 'access' it.

Re:That was silly.. (2, Informative)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499354)

Its easy to screw around with any network...

Wow, it uses sat uplinks. Lets find out where and what frequency...

Ok, lets aim our 10KW tight beam parabola at it and screw over communication. Simple and efective, but it does let them know where you are. In fact, many commercial comsats didnt, prior to 2000, use encryption.

IIRC, NBC's master feed was hacked in this precise way.

The only way to create uber-secure networks is to not have one.

Re:That was silly.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23499372)

So even the personal information of others is your business? Get over it! There's a difference between a mountain of paper and a private network.

Re:That was silly.. (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499200)

> Even the most "uber secure" area can be hacked
> with varying degrees of effort, either externally
> or internally. This just opens a vector that was
> once unopened.

Excuse me, Did you RTFA?

How is the Bureau of Indian Affairs in need of security in excess of the Defense Department, Congress, the IRS, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission?

I bet you were around here dumping on the Federal Government response to Katrina too! You can't have it both ways.

You can not have efficient and responsive government agencies when you relegate them to 1960s era technology.

Re:That was silly.. (4, Insightful)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499340)

Who said I want an efficient government???

I want a slow-as-molasses-in-antartica government that will make as few laws as possible. If Congress knows they will only pass 100 bills per year, you'd hope they would check them better.

Now, we have a somewhat eficent government that can and will make laws based on "save the children", "kill pedophiles" or "teh evul terrorists" without any thoughts on how those laws can be used in other, unforeseen ways.

Re:That was silly.. (1, Informative)

eggnoglatte (1047660) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499842)

Congress (legislative) != Government (executive)

Re:That was silly.. (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 6 years ago | (#23500350)

To the very best of my knowledge, you are the only person on earth who draws that particular distinction.

Our government includes both an executive branch and a legislative branch, and a judicial branch to boot. They are all part of the government, not just the executive.

Long story short, you're completely wrong. Like, not even a little bit right, just wrong.

Re:That was silly.. (1)

eggnoglatte (1047660) | more than 6 years ago | (#23501654)

Well, not the only one according to the mods ;-) The thing is, government is very much an overloaded term. Most people when they talk about the government think of the high level executive branch, not the legislative and certainly not the judiciary.

Even more to the point on regarding the GGP: while I can buy the argument that you want a slow, deliberate, and thorough legislature, a primary purpose of the executive is to quickly react to emergency situations and other external factors. So the executive needs to be snappy and efficient.

Re:That was silly.. (3, Insightful)

j79zlr (930600) | more than 6 years ago | (#23500046)

I think you are making a very poor assumption that the laws weren't indeed passed explicitly for those "other, unforeseen ways."

Re:That was silly.. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#23500848)

Now, we have a somewhat eficent government that can and will make laws based on "save the children", "kill pedophiles" or "teh evul terrorists" without any thoughts on how those laws can be used in other, unforeseen ways.

Well, I disagree with you only to the extent that you think those secondary effects are "unforeseen". Yes, there's a certain level of ignorance/incompetence involved, but in many (if not most) cases they know exactly what they're doing, and use the "save the children" / "evul terrorist" mantra as a way to rationalize passing bad law. They know the voting public wouldn't swallow their particular line of crap if they came right out and told us what they were going to do, so they have to sugar-coat it first.

Mark Twain said it best: "There is no distinctly native American criminal class - except Congress."

Re:That was silly.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23503516)

Now, we have a somewhat eficent government that can and will make laws based on "save the children", "kill pedophiles" or "teh evul terrorists" without any thoughts on how those laws can be used in other, unforeseen ways.
You assume that they haven't thought about the other uses for those laws, and you further assume that it is not their intent to use the laws in a way inconsistent with their presentation to the citizens of the United States of America. The fact that they don't read the entire bill before voting on it notwithstanding, what do you think goes on in committee where these bills are hashed out and on the floor of the legislature when they come to a vote? I can assure you that it's not the circlejerk that most on Slashdot think it is. It is a market for the selling and trading of our liberties on the altar of corporate statehood.

Never underestimate what a dollar and a smile can buy in Washington.

Re:That was silly.. (4, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499478)

How is the Bureau of Indian Affairs in need of security in excess of the Defense Department, Congress, the IRS, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission?
Well, you could argue that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) should have security equal to that of the State Dept., Treasury Dept., and IRS.

The BIA is all those things for Native American tribes, each one being Sovereign.

What the BIA used to have was the online equivalent of a safe, with the combination 12345, holding Native Americans' money.

Re:That was silly.. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23501074)

The BIA also has this little thing called Indian Preference...

Government isn't a magical entity that exists in and of itself - there are actually people who make up government agencies. In the case of the BIA, Native American's get higher preferences for hiring then even Veterans - so guess, historically, who 95%+ of the employee's of the BIA have been?

So who screwed who here?

Frankly I think the government should just concede and turn it all over to the tribes, and then wash their hands of it. The trust fund would implode in less then 5 years due to administration costs alone that they currently get for free (never mind graft and mismanagement - they think the BIA did a bad job under the feds? I would love to see how some tribes would squander their shares).

Re:That was silly.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23502676)

That's my luggage combination!

Re:That was silly.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23499602)

And my understanding is that the original court order took the computers off line because they're were accusations of tribes hacking the system and changing the books on payments processed on the government's leasing of native lands.

So it seems to me that their previous security protocol was not good enough, and closing the port was a smart move. It doesn't address the real issue of sloppy accounting and poor security process, but it did prevent that form of tampering.

Re:That was silly.. (4, Informative)

belmolis (702863) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499220)

This is not a case of a judge gratuitously injecting himself into computer security. This situation arose when Indians sued for royalties held in the Indian Land Trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is part of the Interior Department. During the suit, it turned out that the problem was not just that they weren't getting paid, but that BIA's record-keeping was woefully inadequate. Just figuring out what the plaintiffs were owed proved to be a huge problem. Judge Lamberth ordered the BIA disconnected because court-appointed experts had hacked into the BIA and found the Indian trust fund records to be insecure.

Of course, it isn't only external threats that are a concern. BIA is so incompetent or malicious that they are reported to have deleted their backup tapes [motherjones.com] . Judge Lamberth was so appalled that he threatened to jail the Secretary of the Interior for contempt of court. The government eventually got him removed on the dubious grounds that he was biased against the government, the only evidence of which was his well justified criticism BIA.

Re:That was silly.. (1)

NigelBeamenIII (986462) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499290)

Of course, it isn't only external threats that are a concern. BIA is so incompetent or malicious that they are reported to have deleted their backup tapes [motherjones.com] .

So that's where the White House got their IT people...

Re:That was silly.. (3, Informative)

belmolis (702863) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499310)

Before somebody claims that Judge Lamberth is some kind of left wing judicial activist, let me point out that he served in the JAG corps, including one year in Vietnam and then as a prosecutor until he was appointed to the bench by Ronald Reagan in 1987. There he endeared himself to the Republicans [worldnetdaily.com] by his rulings against the Clintons.

Here is his official biography [uscourts.gov] and here is the wikipedia article about him [wikipedia.org] .

Re:That was silly.. (2, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499572)


This is not a case of a judge gratuitously injecting himself into computer security.
This situation arose when Indians sued for royalties held in the Indian Land Trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is part of the Interior Department. During the suit, it turned out that the problem was not just that they weren't getting paid, but that BIA's record-keeping was woefully inadequate.

And who's problem was the in-adequate record keeping? After all, with over 86% of BIA Employees being Native American, and the agency being largely a welfare establishment it seems highly likely that there was more than a little social engineering going on, rather than simple technical inadequacy.

Source of demographics:http://www.bestplacestowork.org/BPTW/rankings/agency.php?code=IN06&q=scores_subcomponent

Re:That was silly.. (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499660)

The problem is due to whoever has been deciding how to do the record keeping for the Indian Land Trust, not only recently but for decades. Although BIA employees a lot of Indians, they haven't generally been in the most powerful positions, so I don't know if any of them have been the ones making these decisions. But what if they have? It's not like they were representing their tribes or the individual Indians to whom royalties are owed. Nobody is claiming that all whites are bad and all Indians are good.

Re:That was silly.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23501580)

As well as the woefully insecure fund records that the Cobell case court-appointed "experts" found there was also evidence of foul play among officials that had connections to the trust. They were managing the Indian Trust because the BIA were not playing a large role at the time. When the Indians began to realize what was going on, they looked into it and started to realize what was going on. Money was being mismanaged and was being purposely manipulated by government officials. The court requested the data and was told that the information was not available. A team of consultants found that records and emails had been that deleted that showed government officials were complicit in the cover up. The judge was furious. He ruled that no-could reconnect until the issue was resolved. At the height of this issue computers were disconnected from the LAN as well as the internet. For a few weeks large datasets (that had nothing to do with Indian Trust) were moved around on zip drives just to keep operational Most departments were allowed to reconnect after showing that they took measures to comply with the judges order. One of these which persists to this day is to mitigate the possibility of email deletion. All emails are backed up by ZANTAZ (an archive company) and retained for future inspection. I imagine the cost of this is starting to eclipse what was rightfully owed to the Indians.

Re:That was silly.. (2, Interesting)

nbert (785663) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499280)

I was working for an insurance company around '99 which only granted internet access to those dual-booting. You had your normal NT domain to log on to or if you really needed to get online you could restart your box on whatever system you would prefer. I thought it was kind of silly back then (if one OS is infected it's pretty pointless to assume that the other system is safe if it's running on the same hardware). However, the idea to separate systems isn't wrong at all. If the job is that crucial it might be a good idea to provide two PCs on different networks and a monitor which accepts 2 signals. It's simple solution to a very complex problem.

Feds Now Allowed to Use Internet??? (2, Funny)

HateBreeder (656491) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499108)

What? They suddenly just brightened up?

Poor computers. (2, Funny)

Hankapobe (1290722) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499150)

âoeFor six years, these employees (for two years, I was among them) have sat in front of lonely computers, .....

There wasn't an adding machine to talk to? What about the phones? Were the phones to snobby to talk to them?

But, maybe it was the computers fault. IT does has a reputation of not having social skills. Maybe the computers just annoyed the others.

I'll send my business card to the BIA offering to teach their computers social skills and maybe some assertive training to say "NO" to unauthorized access.

Re:Poor computers. (1)

IHC Navistar (967161) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499624)

"I'll send my business card to the BIA offering to teach their computers social skills and maybe some assertive training to say "NO" to unauthorized access.
Reply to This"

-Remember, this is a Government Agency you are offering services to. Chances are, they'll take you up on the offer. If you enter into talks with them, be sure to give a highball, yet believeable price, and use lots of buzzwords (paradigm shift, proactive, forward-thinking, etc. etc. etc.)

The switch has not yet been flipped (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23499190)

While the judge removed the barriers last week, most of the disconnected agencies have not been brought live as of yet.

It is a misstatement to say that this is against the Department of the Interior. More correctly would be to say the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and a few other small agencies that deal directly with Indian matters. While the DOI had originally claimed that the exposed Indian Trust data was too ingrained within their network that it could not be isolated, a ruling by a federal judge that disconnected the entire DOI caused a change of heart and it was realized that just the BIA and a few of its siblings could be sent to the dark ages by themselves.

In the six years, these groups have had interconnected LAN's, that have been isolated from the outside world (it is fun to do business with BIA folks as they will give you yahoo, & netzero email accounts which they will check and respond to from home).

Time will tell what impact reconnecting the BIA will have when the switch is officially flipped on Friday.

Re:The switch has not yet been flipped (3, Interesting)

ewhac (5844) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499268)

My vague understanding -- and please fact-check me on this -- is that the Bureau of Indian Affairs is supposedly in arrears on payments to Native American nations on land leases, which are believed to total in the billions of dollars. Various lawsuits have been filed to try and get the actual accounting data and come up with an accurate number.

One of the problems was, apparently, that even if you ignored the sloppy accounting, the non-existent security on their networks basically made any figures coming out of the bureau highly suspect. So the judge ordered the entire network off the Internet so that only local malfeasance would further affect the numbers.

It is further alleged that criminal lobbyist Jack Abramoff had a hand in this mess...

Schwab

Re:The switch has not yet been flipped (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23499610)

There is a significant court case in which questions have been raised about billions of dollars.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobell_v._Kempthorne [wikipedia.org]

The order to be disconnected from the internet was spawned from this case (several years after the case had started). With a new judge, a new mindset on how matters were to be approached, likely leading to this reconnect, and possibly to an eventual conclusion to this case.

Re:The switch has not yet been flipped (1)

Lookin4Trouble (1112649) | more than 6 years ago | (#23503284)

And to further compound this issue, these monies are owed to the great-great-great-great-(repeat as necessary)grandchildren of the original owners of the land. Now take as an example, original owner of 10000 acres in Utah and Colorado had 7 children, land splits equally among them when he/she dies, and each of those children had a varying number of children, to whom their share of land splits equally when generation two dies off, and so on ad infinitum. Unfortunately, only some 1000 acres in Utah are being leased for mineral deposit extraction. Since the land splitting equally never had property lines documented, who gets the proceeds of said lease(s)? And yes, I do work for DoI, and have been trying to help answer questions like this. Thankfully, I do not work for BIA, but another bureau in charge of handling payments. If you'd like to go one step further beyond the above cluster, add in the fact that some royalties were paid as RiK (Royalty in Kind), where instead of large sums of cash, the owner of the land was paid at least in part with whatever minerals were mined, at some value above the cash value of the royalty.

Glad to get that little introduction out of the way. Having worked here for 6 years, I got to experience the wrath of Judge Lamberth first-hand, when he ordered the bureau I work for disconnected from the internet in the middle of the busiest part of our fiscal year. We are the only bureau besides the IRS who brings in money back to the General Fund (to the tune of ~$10Bn/year), and we're the only ones who do it without jacking money from yours and my paychecks, and our numbers went into the red that year due to the money-making aspect of our bureau being offline during the one critical part of the year it was absolutely needed. So I don't really agree that this order was an overstep of the bounds of the judge, as those are legal issues to be decided by lawyers (I am definitely NOT a lawyer), but it's general consensus that costing the US Government ~$10Bn in royalties (not to mention about ~$30Bn that would have gone to the individual states that year), was one enormous overstep of authority used to spite my bureau by Lamberth & Cobell, Inc.

Re:The switch has not yet been flipped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23503574)

Thank you... It hasn't been the entire DOI that has been disconnected for 6 years. If they have, then my browsing from the NPS network, where I work, to the internet and all the email I have been getting and sending must have been in my dreams.

Originally the entire DOI was disconnected. Then they realized that this was overkill and brought all DOI agencies back online with the exception of those with Indian Trust Data.

How many? (2, Interesting)

NigelBeamenIII (986462) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499242)

As a current DOI employee, I actually wasn't even aware of this (probably because I can access the great and powerful Internet where I work). Does anyone know how many employees were even affected by this? The DOI isn't exactly the largest Department in the US government (just ~71,000 employees [wikipedia.org] ) so the fraction of that which deals with Indian records can't be that large.

Re:How many? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23499696)

According to Wikipedia the number is under 10,000 for the BIA, I would suspect that the other affiliated agencies are much smaller.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bureau_of_Indian_Affairs [wikipedia.org]

Re:How many? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23499724)

Every single one of us....

I am also a DOI employee, and was stuck at a snowy contamination site in Minnesota when it happenned (November or December 2001). The judge cut off all email, server access, and public web pages, even though very few of the DOI agencies have anything to do with the Indians. We had to petition office by office and prove that we did not have any critical Indian data, and that obviously took a while.

I ended up setting up several free Netscape accounts on the public computer at the Days Inn to email ~50 MB of data (back when that was a lot of data) to our cooperators.

Re:How many? (1)

belg4mit (152620) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499770)

Umm 10,000 [wikipedia.org] ? The BIA is pretty big given that it includes schools, health programs. etc.

The real reason why. (3, Funny)

neokushan (932374) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499278)

They're allowed to connect now because Vista has been installed on all of their systems, so security is no longer an issue.

NOTE: I kid, I kid! (Because someone will think this is flamebait).

New punctiation mark for sarcasm is needed .... (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 6 years ago | (#23501420)

There is a new form of punctuation that we are trying to get people to adopt for this situation. Basically, all you do is add a tilde ("~") to the end of any sentence that is sarcastic. Like this:

No baby, those pants don't make your ass look big at all.~

Re:New punctiation mark for sarcasm is needed .... (1)

amnezick (1253408) | more than 6 years ago | (#23502254)

I'm pretty sure everyone will start using it very soon.~

I think its funny. (0, Offtopic)

lawn.ninja (1125909) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499538)

You guys are talking about them being offline for 6 years like it was a crime or some shit. When the really funny bit about this all is that there is something called the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and if you read the article is is referring to native americans, and still calling them Indians. You can tell because they refer to the tribes and whatnot. So I think that alone should say that they need to get out from under the rock they've been under.

Re:I think its funny. (1)

belg4mit (152620) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499742)

So you suggest renaming government agencies according to the vagaries of popular culture and political correctness? It's always been
called the BIA (or OIA), and there's no reason to change the letterhead now. Other than be geographically inaccurate, there's nothing
particularly wrong or offensive about the term Indian.

As for the existence of the Bureau, they're their because technically/in theory, each tribe is a sovereign nation existing within the
border of the United States, and so obviously having some administrative capacity to work with them. In reality, the BIA tends to
slightly different things of course.

Re:I think its funny. (-1, Flamebait)

lawn.ninja (1125909) | more than 6 years ago | (#23499836)

No, I didn't suggest that. But I would like to say that I am not an Indian and at least a proper name would be ok. It's not like I'm asking that you address me as an Apache. We took your stupid names and integrated into your shitty culture regardless of what we wanted. You could at least have the respect to properly identify me. It's not some misnomer like "african american", because that is in fact racist, thinking that all black floks come from africa... And to call me a native american wouldn't be a PC name, it would be a correct one. And I know what the BIA does and it consists of mostly nothing and some bureacracies that do nothing but wrap red tape around things. I'm not worried though, because its only a matter of time before you white folks do yourself in. Your whole culture is based on self destruction or the destruction of other people.

Pretty Vacant (1, Troll)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23500448)

The Interior Dept's servers were ordered disconnected [greatdreams.com] from the Internet after several years in which the Department's computers were repeatedly broken into, the Department never even seriously attempted to secure those servers, lots of important data was compromised, especially data in the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The Interior Department was exposing Indian Affairs to huge risks, because Indian Affairs is an extremely low priority for the US government, as it always has been.

And now this judge has admitted that he's not qualified to judge security, so therefore he's qualified to order insecure servers back onto the Internet. Because obviously the Bush administration doesn't care about Indians. Especially not since Jack Abramoff, who based much of his corrupt Republican lobbying empire on ripping off Indian tribes [wikipedia.org] , is rotting in jail instead of keeping that Republican machine working.

This judge should have to learn about IT security by having all his personal and professional data stored on these Interior Department servers.

Whoo-hoo!! (3, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#23500478)

We're back on the 'net!

Hey! Where did all the gopher servers go?

Re:Whoo-hoo!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23505604)

gopher://gopher.floodgap.com/1/new

Not connected? impossible! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23500608)

An internal LAN has hundreds of possible points of "connection" besides the main firewall. All it takes is any end user to install a modem, connect a phone with bluetooth, upload software or download corporate data to removable media and voila - you have a defacto connection. And what about laptops being taken home from work?

So I assert that they have always been connected.

Don't worry... (1)

phagstrom (451510) | more than 6 years ago | (#23502126)

...everything is going to be alright.
I'm from the Internet.

Not the whole DOI (1)

smallferret (946526) | more than 6 years ago | (#23504404)

Parts of the Department of the Interior were allowed to reconnect about 4-5 years ago, including the Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management. The entire Department of the Interior was taken offline for a year or so.
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