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Court Allows Arkansas To Hide Wikipedia Edits

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the change-we-don't-believe-in dept.

Government 145

rheotaxis writes "A circuit judge in Arkansas will not order the state to reveal where its computers were used to edit Wikipedia articles about former governor Mike Huckabee while he was running for President. Two Associated Press journalists used WikiScanner to track the edits to IP addresses used by the state. Writer Jon Gambrell and News Editor Kelly P. Kissel filed a suit in October 2007 asking the state to reveal which state offices used the IP addresses, because state rules don't allow using computer resources for political purposes. The director of the Arkansas Department of Information Systems, Claire Bailey, claimed in court that releasing this information would allow hackers to target these state offices."

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145 comments

Huh? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26183307)

What, you need more then a IP to hack a computer?

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26183479)

a user name and password makes it super easy.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26183509)

Basically backwater computer people are still in the stone ages of security, their user name and password are probably their names...or were until they almost got hacked there, good thing they have a wise judge who knows about the fact they are all in big trouble either way, might as well protect their "network" (probably an all telephone line 56k based).

Re:Huh? (1)

theillien2 (1426175) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183967)

Their computers are quite Flintstone. I stopped at a hotel in Arkansas and could swear I heard a bird chipping away each screen refresh.

Re:Huh? (2, Insightful)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183861)

If you're the RIAA that's all you need to sue.

Re:Huh? (-1, Troll)

mi (197448) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184727)

If you're the RIAA that's all you need to sue.

If you're the RIAA or some other Democratic crusader, that's all you need to sue.

There, fixed that for you...

Oh, you didn't know, **AA are solidly Democratic? Then you have not [slashdot.org] been [sluniverse.com] paying [findarticles.com] attention [cnet.com]...

Re:Huh? (4, Informative)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184179)

What's interesting here is they were able to shutdown an investigation into government corruption in the name of security. I guess it's not just for federal government anymore.

Re:Huh? (1, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184323)

I'm not exactly sure how that would be corruption or how it was an actual investigation. In Arkansas, you need to be licensed by the state or bonded with a company who is licensed to perform an investigation. If the people looking into if state computer use weren't licensed in either of those ways, calling it an investigation could possibly open them up for charges.

Secrecy or Transparency? (3, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183315)

It is certainly a fine concept to want a fully transparent government. We (at least those of us here at Slashdot) demand the same of our operating system. And likewise, we try to argue that "security through obscurity" is a useless endeavor.

However, the security of systems relies at some point on the obscurity of certain pieces of data. Whether it be a user password or a map of a network topology, the information itself has no real reason to be made public just for the sake of openness, one could argue.

Even considering that the system may have been used inappropriately, is the crime worth the possible destruction of the entire network at the hands of hackers? Shouldn't there be a great deal of discretion when risking opening up of confidential information that could have a severe detrimental impact on society as a whole?

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26183351)

The possibility of an attack is a red herring, obviously. But on the other hand, why would anyone think they're entitled to information about the internal network architecture? If you suspect that rules have been broken, give the information to the authorities and let them investigate. Let's not turn into lynchmobs over Wikipedia edits, mkay? Anyone who takes information from Wikipedia for more than a gossip needs to have their head reaffixed anyway.

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (4, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183371)

Why would i be entitled? Well, its owned and paid for by the public.

I agree its a sticky situation, but never forget the government is the people, funded by the people and works for the people.

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26183433)

That doesn't give you the right to turn into big brother. The government works for the people, but it is not slave to the people.

IMHO anonymity is getting an undeserved bad reputation. Anonymous contributors are hunted down everywhere. People try to reveal identities instead of accepting that certain contributors are only willing to contribute if their identity remains secret. If you don't want anonymous contributions, don't take them. What is the problem with taking verifiable information? Isn't that the goal of Wikipedia anyway, to collect facts and leave opinion to the blogs? Well, if there is a real problem here, it only shows that there is a lot of wishful thinking regarding the quality of Wikipedia articles. In other news, it's been 23 minutes since I last successfully posted a comment. Slashdot thinks I need to wait longer, so this is it for today from this anonymous contributor. Discuss (without me).

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (5, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183451)

Using government resources to edit wikipedia entries does not sound like an ethical thing to do, anonymously or not. In this case, it looks like taxpayer money being used for political gain, another no-no.

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (0, Troll)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183793)

Well Obama supporters not only used government resources to find "Joe the plumber", they did so
-> illegaly (violating privacy)
-> on multiple locations
-> multiple times

And news organisations accepted and reported the stolen information.

Politics suck. Obamatrons and Huckabots alike.

Besides even internal wikipedia pages (why don't you check the page about wikipedia's "honorable" founder) are fucked up by politics and threats. The amount of people getting banned for saying something bad about wikipedia itself is over a hundred now.

People should remember what wikipedia gives them : the opinion of the loudest minority. The politically correct "improved truth". Nothing more. Nothing else.

Sort of like Soviet news sources.

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (4, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184109)

I don't know how what you're saying even applies. Most Obama supporters are not in the Obama campaign, Obama's campaigns don't have access to Ohio government resources like some in Huckabee's campaign might have been in Huckabee's home state, nor did Obama ask his supporters to violate the privacy of Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher. Don't conflate these situations needlessly. All those that misuse their government office for election gain should be held accountable. In this case, it looks like maybe those in the Huckabee campaign may been doing this, but this veil of secrecy prevents knowing whether this is true. Maybe that this was the work of an independent Huckabee supporter, but without a proper investigation, we won't know. In SJW's case, Ohio government resources aren't under Obama's jurisdiction.

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (1, Troll)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184457)

Obama's campaigns don't have access to Ohio government resources like some in

So what exactly would you call access to the state's driving license database for critics of their campaign ?

Ebay must be truly grand these days ...

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26184535)

Couple of considerations: First, entitlement in its own merit has no working leverage, because most states do not promote liberial or open access policies to public records. Secondly, one may consider the legal argument based upon the definition and scope of what constitutes an administrative record in the state of Arkansas. My guess is that it may not recognize operating system configuration or related metadata as public domain information. Third, people have little 'direct' influence into governmental matters. Courts typically side with tradition, including the existing administrative protocol and operations, and administrative staff for input. These laws and rules were codified way before application of automation tools and electronic records. Administrative staff work for decision makers who answer to system governed by legislative and judicial representatives. Until technology processes and procedures are clearly defined and understood, we can expect government agencies to proceed slowly with caution by protecting itself.

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26184835)

Except in this case, when it is working entirely in its own interest and not in the interest of the people.

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26184935)

Is this government "by the people, for the people" the same government that is using our money to rescue companies that Americans don't want?

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (5, Insightful)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183367)

I fail to see how network topology is something to be hidden, the computers either in front of a firewall and thus mappable anyway or behind one and so it doesn't really matter if you have the IPs because you cant send any traffic to them anyway.

A map of a bank's safe isn't much use if the bank is secure.

But if it only appears to be secure... (3, Interesting)

Chmcginn (201645) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183579)

A map of a bank's safe isn't much use if the bank is secure.

But the architect's drawing of the bank could reveal it's actually not very secure at all, if it reveals a point of attack that's easier than going after the vault door.

Re:But if it only appears to be secure... (2, Insightful)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183839)

But the architect's drawing of the bank could reveal it's actually not very secure at all, if it reveals a point of attack that's easier than going after the vault door.

It's one of the concepts of open source software; such things can more easily be spotted and fixed when they are in the open.

Re:But if it only appears to be secure... (0, Troll)

johnsonav (1098915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184001)

Its funny, though, how no one ever open sources their password. Everyone knows that weak passwords "can more easily be spotted and fixed when they are in the open."

Re:But if it only appears to be secure... (1)

gparent (1242548) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185921)

Your analogy fails hard. It's gonna be quite harder to rebuild a bank than it is to submit a software patch.

Re:But if it only appears to be secure... (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26186225)

Your analogy fails hard. It's gonna be quite harder to rebuild a bank than it is to submit a software patch.

People don't generally completely rebuild anything when there are faults found (software or banks).

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (1)

impengo (1196203) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183585)

Begging pardon for posting late to the party... Publish the IP address and have the court case. DAY OF PUBLISHING, apply at ISP for a different static IP for the network node, and use everything that is documented in the upcoming legal case. Ignorant means lacking knowledge. Stupid means slow to learn. Idiot means incapable of learning behavior. In the vein of "Fast, Good and Cheap - pick any two,"... pick two.

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (5, Insightful)

Gorshkov (932507) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183379)

However, the security of systems relies at some point on the obscurity of certain pieces of data.

if it relies on obscurity, then it's not secure, period.

Whether it be a user password or a map of a network topology, the information itself has no real reason to be made public just for the sake of openness, one could argue.

A user password IS a secret, and is intended to be. Internal network topology is a way of organizing a network for administrative purposes, and is in NOT designed, nor CAN be be designed, to provide security.

Some topologies make it easier to secure certain things, yes - but that is an administrative consideration in selection of a topology made to make implementing security easier; it is not, in itself, a security measure.

Lastly .... the information was not sought "just for the sake of openness" - it was sought as part of the process to discover who had been engaged in criminal behaviour.

is the crime worth the possible destruction of the entire network at the hands of hackers?

If knowing which particular device is enough to give hackers the ability to destroy an entire network, there's a butt load and a half of network administrators working for the state that need to be fired - and the sooner, the better.

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26183665)

if it relies on obscurity, then it's not secure, period.

Way to pick out a keyword and use it to make an irrelevant "talking point" type response in your desperation to give the impression that the person you're replying to is an idiot.

His whole point is that all security ultimately depends on secrets. If you do not protect your passwords and your private keys by preventing attackers from finding them out, then you have no security. In other words, your security depends on the obscurity of your passwords and private keys.

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26185303)

Way to pick out a sentence and use it to make an irrelevant "talking point" type response in your desperation to give the impression that the person you're replying to is an idiot.

The GGP's comment was completely irrelevant to the behavior in question that caused the phrase "security through obscurity" to be bandied about. If you're seriously up in arms about the GP's comments regarding that, then exactly how do you feel about the GGP's entire comment hinging on the phrase "security through obscurity" and extrapolating arguments about passwords and secured data, which is completely beside the point with regard to the political whitewashings of a Huckabee supporter?

Passwords != Security Through Obscurity (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185701)

The password is obscure, sure, but the underlying security mechanism shouldn't be. If you rely on the your password-checking algorithm being secret for security, this is "security through obscurity" (no security at all really because it will likely be easily reverse-engineered or discovered some other way). If, instead, the password-checking algorithm is publicly available and yet still cannot be defeated without knowing the password, you've been doing your job right. That's security.

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (4, Interesting)

wilder_card (774631) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183791)

Gorshkov (932507) said: ...there's a butt load and a half of network administrators working for the state that need to be fired - and the sooner, the better.

Unless Arkansas' IT department is radically different from those of states I'm familiar with, this is pretty much a given. You didn't really need the qualifying "if".

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26184023)

Finally, a precedent that can be used by ISPs to not give out data to the RIAA about who broke the law!

Oh yeah? (2, Insightful)

Nick Driver (238034) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184089)

Internal network topology is a way of organizing a network for administrative purposes, and is in NOT designed, nor CAN be be designed, to provide security

Ever heard of Network Admissions Controls?

802.1x Authentication?

The largest threats to IT security comes from internal users and internal physical access.

Locking down internal access to your network resources is one of the biggest steps you can take towards improving security. The number of organizations who leave lots of unused RJ-45 wall jacks around their office buildings actively patched into hot switch ports is astounding. In that situation, all it takes is someone with a laptop and a few freeware software tools to plug in and do all kinds of "nifty things" on such a network.

Yeah. (1)

schon (31600) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184185)

Nice straw man. Care to explain how locking down your network has anything to do with telling people about your network?

As Gorshkov said, a network is either secure, or it isn't. Disclosing the topology doesn't change that.

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26184573)

if it relies on obscurity, then it's not secure, period.

That's not always true. In fact, you yourself talk about passwords in the very next paragraph, which very much do rely on obscurity to be secure.

But that being said, the main problem with your claim is that you're thinking in black and white. It's true that a system that relies solely on obscurity to remain secure is not actually secure; but that being said, it's very much possible to add an extra layer of defence that consists of obscurity.

Case in point? My SSH server runs on a non-standard port, which I'm not going to tell you.

Does that add security? You might argue it doesn't, since anyone could just scan my machine and find it again; and certainly, if a hole is found in OpenSSH, I'll be among the first to roll out the fixed version, but say whatever you will: things like brute-force break-in attempts from Chinese IPs that ran into the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands per day before have stopped entirely.

Arguably, this IS a gain in security.

So, to cut a long story short - you're on the right track, basically, but you haven't quite grasped the underlying principles and drawn your own conclusions, and instead still resort to reproducing soundbites that others came up with before. Which is better than believing that obscurity equals security, for sure, but still: you still have a lot to learn, grasshopper.

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185811)

While (almost) everything you say is correct, you misunderstand what "security through obscurity" is. See my post further up [slashdot.org] for why using passwords for security is not security through obscurity.

Changing your port, in fact, does not make you computer more secure in a literal sense. Anyone who wanted to seriously look for vulnerabilities would look for open ports and they would find your ssh daemon. What it does do is prepare for the (somewhat likely) discovery of new exploits in ssh or other services for which the port has been changed to a non-default port. People who are scanning hundreds or thousands of computers for exploits will overlook your server.

On the other hand that's kind of mincing words (you are too though :) Anyway, I use "secure" casually all the time to describe that practice too, so my point is, there is a casual and a technical definition of "secure" and they are different. Cheers!

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (3, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184823)

if it relies on obscurity, then it's not secure, period.

No, that isn't exactly correct. Obscurity is good at protecting against unknown exploits that are targeted at specific agencies. This is a branch of government who might actually be a target more so then a website or something. We know there are zero day exploits and puting a sign up saying the important shit is here probably isn't the best idea.

So while security through obscurity is crap, there are still legitimate reasons for not wanting the IP locations or departments to be public knowledge.

Lastly .... the information was not sought "just for the sake of openness" - it was sought as part of the process to discover who had been engaged in criminal behaviour.

Well, no. This isn't really criminal behavior. First, Arkasas state law allows for campaigning to be done on state property if hte office or space is open to the public for this purpose without regard to political party or affiliation. Violation of that is a misdemeanor. Second, all you have so far is allegations from two reporters, you don't have any official criminal proceedings. So even if it is unethical or appears that way, there are perfectly legal ways in the State of Arkansas that it could have happened.

So the corect statement would be more like "The information was not sought "just for the sake of openness" - it was sought as part of the private endeavors to discover if someone had been engaged in criminal behavior.

If knowing which particular device is enough to give hackers the ability to destroy an entire network, there's a butt load and a half of network administrators working for the state that need to be fired - and the sooner, the better.

Government networks are gifted with resource shortages, out of date technology and so on. It's logical to expect any government network to contain routers that are 15 years old that might still have the superman password hard coded in the firmware, it's entirely possible that some agency is still using windows 2000 or worse, windows 98. A lot of the technology decisions are over ruled or determined with political expectations.

I actually work with some governments and I see this all over the place. I'm not in Arkansas but here is how the situation plays out, An group of angry citizens calls in and complains because the pot holes in from of their drive still isn't fixed and it has chewed up another tire or causes suspension damage when they hit is at 10 MPH over the speed limit(of course they don't admit to speeding). Now this is more from a local governmental perspective but it can easily transfer to higher offices with a little but different of a scenario play out. Anyways, the state or county goes and fixes the pot hole then the money to upgrade the server is missing from the budget so it has to wait another 90 days or so. Or there is a rash of crimes in the area and the police work overtime to catch the criminals or deter the crime and then the police budget is used up, cuts go from somewhere else, there goes the router upgrade until next year. And Sure, it's probably a piss poor job of communications when the IT guy can't make the case for why the routers need replaces or upgraded above the pothole being fixed or the crime wave being addressed but the people ultimately making these decisions are the emotional and political officers who depend on the public to get reelected so it is going to happen.

But this decision didn't say the network will be hacked, it said it gives the hackers a (refined) target. As I mentioned earlier, there are zero day exploits and if your subject to the will of a politician or MS or Cisco or Dell or some other company, you are going to be subjected to them. A firewall isn't always capable of protecting the computers, Symantec just had a big problem in their internet securities and firewall programs, Some one at cisco had passwords hard coded into the firmware which went unnoticed by the security community for several years, MS has always had computers operating systems that were susceptible to infection just by being on the network and with no user activity at all and so on. Anyways, if I wanted to exploit a system, regardless of the security in place, I would first need to know where the system is. Knowing which systems are where will allow someone wanting to attack a specific computer, server or branch of government, to find a specific systems and commence those attacks where not knowing makes it a little more difficult. There are other ways to get these specifics so it is more or less a difference between a lot of hackers verses a few skilled ones.

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (1)

schon (31600) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183659)

the security of systems relies at some point on the obscurity of certain pieces of data

No it doesn't. Obscurity is neither a necessary or desirable element of security.

Whether it be a user password or a map of a network topology

The first of these isn't obscurity, and the second should not result in the ability to compromise a system, so keeping it obscure won't help security (in fact, the belief that keeping it obscure is beneficial actually *reduces* your security.)

Obscurity is information that is obscured - ie hidden with the belief that an attacker won't find it. In some cases, this belief is justified (strong encryption) in others, this isn't (network topology, listening ports, etc.)

In any properly designed system (Such as Unix, or even Windows login) passwords are not obscured, they are one-way hashes, with both the location and hash algorithm known. If the passwords were kept in plaintext, and their location was kept secret, then that would be obscurity.

Even considering that the system may have been used inappropriately, is the crime worth the possible destruction of the entire network at the hands of hackers?

You're making the (extremely) flawed assumption that the *names* of people who used computers will lead to the destruction of the network, which is absurd.

Re:Secrecy or Transparency? (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183827)

The director of the Arkansas Department of Information Systems, Claire Bailey, claimed in court that releasing this information would allow hackers to target these state offices."

Which is a good thing, because without "hackers" knowing about these IP addresses then they would not be able to "hack" the information pertaining to potential abuses. Public information is generally better left in the public; let the chips fall where they may. Of course sensitive government information probably shouldn't be on public networks anyways, and state officials should be thinking more about security than censorship. Their priorities are misplaced.

That must drive Wikipedia Nazis up the walls (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26183327)

Not being able to track down someone who dares to edit a Wikipedia article... Wikipedia, where the truth is made by people with enough time and zeal to monitor pages 24/7 for violations of their own little world view.

Re:That must drive Wikipedia Nazis up the walls (4, Funny)

hobbit (5915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183557)

Why don't you sign in and say that ;)

Re:That must drive Wikipedia Nazis up the walls (2)

moxley (895517) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184811)

I'll take that truth, (where masses of ordinary people peer review said truth) versus the "truth" we get from mainstream news networks.

Re:That must drive Wikipedia Nazis up the walls (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184879)

I would be careful of what you wish for. It was the mainstream news that reported things like Nixon was involved in Watergate while the mass public didn't think he did anything wrong. It was the mass media who first reported on evolution while the vast majority of the public believed in creation.

In other words, by taking that position, you could be choosing to be willfully ignorant.

Re:That must drive Wikipedia Nazis up the walls (2)

moxley (895517) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185053)

If we still had the mainstream media of those days I would agree with you. Things are utterly and completely different now - we have a corporate/government controlled media with an agenda.

Re:That must drive Wikipedia Nazis up the walls (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185509)

Sure, I won't dispute that. Actually I would to a degree but I can ignore that just for the point of argument.

The problem is that the wisdom of the crowd is not any better in many situation. Actually, you can take 50 very intelligent people and put them with 50 unintelligent people and in no time, the collective IQ of the group will/can drop drastically.

There there is the obviousness of repeating inaccuracies. This can be seen with Hitler's big lie concept [thinkexist.com] and Joseph Goebbels [thinkexist.com] propaganda vies.

I know people who actually think Palin said you could see Russia from her house in Alaska. In case you don't know, that was a (Tina Fey) spoof of Palin's accurate comment about "seeing Russia from Alaskan land" when she was putting forth qualifiers to foreign policy experience.

Re:That must drive Wikipedia Nazis up the walls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26185371)

my truth is made in the bath tubs of West Virginia thank yoush berry much!

That's a great BSA/MPAA/RIAA/APB defense! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26183329)

Judge, next time the RIAA comes about some IPs, just think about how the evil hax0rs would be able to target those persons if their information were released. It just makes sense!

They are just mad because they are NOT Kansas (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26183353)

Kansas is where it's at. Yo, also I have a potio that almost won the lottery!!!!!!!!!!!

Next question (4, Insightful)

Concern (819622) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183403)

Should that circuit judge be able to keep their job?

After all, he's blatantly participating in a cover-up of illegal activities in the Arkansas state government.

Re:Next question (2, Interesting)

elnico (1290430) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183519)

After all, he's blatantly participating in a cover-up of illegal activities in the Arkansas state government.

Either that, or it's just not the job of citizens to go around doing "investigations" into relatively minor breaches of state law.

Look at it this way. Is it more likely that these journalists are true sentinels of fairness and democracy and are about to uncover a massive and elaborate plot to illegally elect Huckabee in '08, or is it more likely that they need someone concrete to point the finger at for a tabloidesque story on an ultimately inconsequential Wikipedia edit.

Re:Next question (4, Informative)

evanbd (210358) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183619)

Corruption in government should be investigated and cleaned up, even on small scales. If you leave it alone, it will fester. And yes, using government resources for political gain is corruption.

Re:Next question (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185109)

Corruption in government should be investigated and cleaned up, even on small scales. If you leave it alone, it will fester. And yes, using government resources for political gain is corruption.

Sure, government corruption should be investigated and cleaned up. But there is nothing pointing to this as corruption except your imagination. You are assuming an awful lot of things without any knowledge of it.

First of all, you don't know that the person who modified the page was using government resources improperly. Second, you don't know that the person was doing it on state time nor do you even know if it was a state employee. Finally, keeping something factually accurate or removing inflammatory wording doesn't necessarily constitute political gain. Government officials commonly use state resources to defend their reputation and policy decisions and no one is claiming that is for political gain.

Here is the catch, Arkansas state law (7-1-103 3a) allows for rooms and resources to be made availible for campaigns and campaign activity as long as they are readily open to the public without regard to political affiliation. It is entirely possible that some staffer or public employee operating on their own time, or some other person used the publicly provided internet access in one of these rooms to edit something and it is no more then that. This would make it 100% legal according to state law and completely within state and federal election ethics. The only thing we have here is that an IP used was assigned to the state and as we all know, this is the public facing IP, not necessarily the IP of the machine used to make the edits. If an agency has three networks inside it, one for interdepartmental communications, one for agency communications, and one for public access, it is entirely possible that all communications going outside the building will use the same single IP or a group of IPs if the connection is load balanced.

Never attribute malice when ignorance can explain it. You should try to look for ways explain it away or see how it could be legal before assuming the worst. It may very well be that the worst is happening but you will be less disappointed when efforts fail at going after someone because it turns out they were acting legally and nothing wrong happened. Right now your poised to put someone in prison and ruin their reputation who might have not broken any laws whatsoever at all.

Re:Next question (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185217)

You're damn right it will fester.

Is it not a reward to let things like this go unpunished? Even calling them out on it and letting people form their own opinions would be a better form of punishment than nothing at all. Not saying the guy should get ten years in federal prison, but what's he going to do next time? Or the time after that? How long will it take until they're caught?

Some politicians are never caught. They get rich off of bribes, they always get the best seat at the steak house, and they're always driving a new car. Unless we can catch these people early in their political career, we're just setting them up for ill-begotten riches and fame in the future.

Re:Next question (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184003)

Look at it this way. Is it more likely that these journalists are true sentinels of fairness and democracy and are about to uncover a massive and elaborate plot to illegally elect Huckabee in '08, or is it more likely that they need someone concrete to point the finger at for a tabloidesque story on an ultimately inconsequential Wikipedia edit.

It doesn't matter; Wikipedia should be the one deciding what they wish to share with the public (it is there Website after all). Posters and editors also have the discretion to decide if they wish to publish with Wikipedia, and if they wish to do so in a more anonymous manner or not. This should not be a state issue. If a person doesn't like the rules, then they don't have to play the game.

Security through obscurity (4, Insightful)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183415)

This isn't about transparent government v security. Security through Obscurity is the well known worst approach to security that you can have, because if anyone ever does get that information (hell bribing a sys admin can't be that hard if you really want the info) then your have no security.

Its a bogus claim and a bogus judgement. If they were claiming that it shouldn't be released because editing Wikipedia isn't actually a political thing anyway then I could see a reason to toss it out. But the risk of hackers "targetting" bits of the network is just plain bogus, the implication is that these IP addresses are therefore in some secure part of the (ARKANSAS!) government and those IP addresses have already been released. What is being asked is a map back from a known IP address to its source. Claiming that knowing the physical source would some how make security worse is like saying that "Sure you have the keys, you know where the front door is and you can get in.... but I'm not telling you the NAME of the house".

Having the IP address is like having 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and the keys to the door but the government not telling you that it is called the "Whitehouse" for security reasons.

Re:Security through obscurity (1)

nicklott (533496) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183495)

ALL security is through obscurity... It's just a matter of degree.

Re:Security through obscurity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26183551)

ALL security is through obscurity... It's just a matter of degree.

Incorrect. Good security is through computational complexity.

Re:Security through obscurity (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26183859)

Good security is through computational complexity.

Which is one form of obscurity.

Re:Security through obscurity (0, Redundant)

hobbit (5915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183567)

FAIL

Re:Security through obscurity (1)

nicklott (533496) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185469)

How so? Passwords are just obscure strings, as are public/private keys. If someone knows what the string is it's no longer secure. A OTP is just an obscure algorithm to generate passwords, etc, etc, etc...

Re:Security through obscurity (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184149)

ALL security is through obscurity... It's just a matter of degree.

In terms of computer technology this appears to be the case. In the real world one could have brute force security, like the military has weapons and soldiers, but in the military camouflage (i.e. security through obscurity) and other obscurity techniques are very important parts of security. One can only hide behind the complexity of a hash or the teeth (or bittings) of a key for so long before a diligent "hacker" can undermine these protections.

An interesting question would be, is there such a thing as (practical) security without obscurity?

Re:Security through obscurity (1)

nicklott (533496) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185423)

Ah, once you go outside computers it comes down to semantics; what does "security" actually mean? It depends on the situation and implementation..

Call the admins to testify (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26183749)

Ask the state to confirm their claim about their security through obscurity. The network administrators can't alter the network configuration so the revealed IPs will connect to a different place?

Re:Security through obscurity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26183779)

the risk of hackers "targetting" bits of the network is just plain bogus, the implication is that these IP addresses are therefore in some secure part of the (ARKANSAS!) government and those IP addresses have already been released

Well, there's only one way to teach them that lesson... you've got the IP addresses...

A crime was committed (-1)

randall_burns (108052) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183417)

It was probably done by staff close to Huckabee. It really needs to be followed up on. If Huckabee is involved,perhaps he needs to be prevented from running for President again.

That said, perhaps wikipedia foundation ought to be preemptive-and classify all articles on their "political" nature. There is no reason not to ban all edits on potentially political articles by state employees in all states. We also have issues with folks like paid lobbyists editing these articles-that one is more tricky.

Wikipedia foundation has limited resources, but I think they really can outrun the plutocracy technically. The plutocrats really aren't that very bright.

Will this balloon? (2, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183439)

The real problem for Gov Huckabee is that if he plans to run again for President this will become an issue - an IPGate that he wants to avoid so it can't be used against him. Of course, the press will start to look for other ways to get the information. Of course, the real problem is the coverup - did the Gov order the information not to be released? Did he know someone in government was using official computers for political purposes?

A bit short-sighted... (2, Interesting)

Saint Ego (464379) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183445)

As opposed to the hacking they will likely get as a response to trying to hide the information? Throw down the glove, why don'tcha?

Government corruption (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26183455)

When I read that the "state rules don't allow using computer resources for political purposes" it seems clear to me that someone broke the law by using one or more State of Arkansas computers to perform the edits. The decision by the State court tells me that they are either clueless about technology or there's collusion between State agency's. Now, that couldn't be?

To say that I don't have to provide information in a criminal case because my computer could be hacked is laugh. Come on! ANY public IP address can attacked. The IT director is not telling the truth because she's either ignorant (and misinformed by her staff) or outright lying. She should be fired either way. Then again, lying seems to be a job requirement for most leadership positions within government nowadays. Maybe she gets a raise?

It's simple, a public IP address was used to break the law. The organization should be required to identify the internal machine that used that use that public IP address. Unless of course they no longer have the logs to provide that information. Oops, your honor, the logs weren't working during that time.

This story stinks of government corruption.

Re:Government corruption (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26185239)

I'm from Arkansas, and have been through the legal system. It is very corrupt and the government agencies collude with the courts all the time.

I can name names but I do not see the point as you can google it yourself with "Arkansas Aids Blood Prison Scandal", just to name one.

I know for a fact that charges for crimes as serious as DUI with injury can be made to disappear completely for as little as $20,000.

One day all the corruption is going to overflow and pour out, and people are going to be absolutely disgusted.

AC for obvious reasons

Huckabee 2012 (3, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183461)

When Reverend Huckabee runs for president again in 2012, just remember then that you can't see how much of his Wikipedia entry was cooked by his staffers still buried in the Arkansas government he controlled up until he ran for 2008.

Consider how Reverend Huckabee destroyed evidence [computerworld.com] on many state computers to cover probable crimes [dailykos.com] (hard to prove when he's destroyed the evidence) when he left office in Arkansas to start campaigning for president.

Reverend Huckabee stands for faith based government [dailykos.com]. Why shouldn't he rely on a "mysterious hand" to improve his image?

And keep in mind just how much power he'd have with a covert government built on the foundation installed by Bush/Cheney.

Re:Huckabee 2012 (1)

impengo (1196203) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183641)

Huckabee might be a talking snake person who believes that the rapture will render all national security interests moot too. Did you see his platform? Memorable note was the politically suicidal attempt to introduce THE FAIR TAX PLAN http://www.fairtax.org/site/PageServer [fairtax.org] [grass roots people just like Obama]. He made a political statement, and let a (presumably) more electable candidate have the nomination. He stinks of being RATIONAL, NOT "Talking snake!"

Re:Huckabee 2012 (1)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183795)

Huckabee is not the corrupt government official from Arkansas. I won't say there isn't corruption here, but it's not from him. Maybe you should start looking into the admin before his. Just saying.

Re:Huckabee 2012 (0, Troll)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183975)

I just linked to just a few demonstrations of Huckabee's corruption, and there's plenty more. Like how he got the "gifts to the governor" laws revised while in office so he could keep all the "gifts" given him while governor, rather than leaving them to the next governor as had been the case for all his predecessors. That's bribery. Then there's the rapist/murderer he freed [wikipedia.org] who then raped and killed again, evidently because the rapist was jailed for killing a cousin of Bill Clinton's. And on and on.

Sure, Huckabee's predecessor Turner was corrupt. That doesn't excuse Huckabee from being corrupt. There's corruption all over Huckabee's career, including the covert Wikipedia propagandizing we're discussing in this Slashdot story.

Yeah, you're "just saying". Just saying stuff you're making up, and not even bothering to back up - because you can't. Whereas I'm just linking to evidence and connecting the dots with simple logic. Maybe "just saying" passes for political reasoning in Arkansas, but not with me.

Re:Huckabee 2012 (1)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184803)

Touche' I was referring to the Clinton's scandals and corruption.

Re:Huckabee 2012 (-1, Troll)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185623)

Of course you were. Clinton was investigated to the hilt, for many years and at great expense, and all you Republicans turned up was a blowjob. For which you fools impeached him. But he's the only Arkansas governor you can think of when you say "predecessor", even though Huckabee's immediate predecessor was proven corrupt.

You Republicans have never demonstrated anything but your savage partisan hatred of the truth.

Re:Huckabee 2012 (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183905)

#1: Obama is not a "grass roots person", he was the Democratic candidate, which is the largest political organization in the world. Nice try at making Huckabee look like Obama, when they're totally different. Especially since Huckabee isn't at all grass roots in any way.

#2: Just because a snaky Rapture peddler says something rational doesn't mean the snake oil inside the sensible bottle is going to save you.

#3: Huckabee didn't "let" McCain have the nomination. McCain ripped the nomination away from Huckabee. Or, more accurately, Republicans ignored Huckabee in favor of McCain. And not over the "fair tax"

FWIW, I myself prefer a national sales tax (with all bare necessities exempted for everyone) replacing the income taxes. But I prefer Huckabee spend more time playing bass than playing president.

Click the links I provided to see exactly what batshit crazy faithy government Huckabee has actually been working on his whole career. That is, if you prefer facts to faithy propaganda.

Re:Huckabee 2012 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26183899)

Arkansan here. Huckabee is a joke and most of us know it but just a correction, he was only Governor until Jan 2007 (being replaced by Mike Beebe in the 2006 elections).

Re:Huckabee 2012 (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184027)

What are you correcting? I didn't say he was governor past January 2007. I said he "ran for 2008", which every exhausted American in the electorate knows used up all of 2007 campaigning, too, like all the candidates did. He did evidently leave enough staff buried in the government that they're still busy doctoring his Wikipedia article.

BTW, since most of you Arkansans know Huckabee is a joke, how do you explain those who don't get it [slashdot.org]?

location, location, location (2, Insightful)

DotDotSlashDot (1207864) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183559)

Knowing the name of the agency and the building would make it easier for reporters to pursue the truth about who did the editing and why. You can't question a suspect until you obtain knowledge about their current location and their presence at the place and time of the incident being investigated. It's not about computer security. It's about government agency PR and legal liability.

Depends on whose ox is gored... (0, Flamebait)

Stanislav_J (947290) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183591)

I'll bet if the Huckabee staffers were accused not of whitewashing Wikipedia articles, but rather downloading copyrighted music on BitTorrent, the tone of this /. discussion would be entirely different. (I'm just sayin'...)

That's OK -- we're all a bit hypocritical about some things. I, myself, have been known to indulge in the fine art of hypocrisy now and then...

Re:Depends on whose ox is gored... (1)

Communomancer (8024) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183845)

Actually, I'll bet if the Huckabee staffers were accused of d/l'ing copyrighted music on BitTorrent, and the people suing were the RIAA instead of some journalists, the judges ruling would have been different!

riaa could help them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26183643)

it does not matter if they get the ip addresses how are they going to prove who was sat at the computer unless they ask tha riaa for help

On the other hand... (2, Insightful)

Somebody Is Using My (985418) | more than 5 years ago | (#26183723)

Obviously the notion that they can't provide the IP information for security reasons is bogus. But could we not look at this decision as a win because it may set a vital precedent for similar cases in the future? The government has ruled it cannot be forced to give out IP information on people accused of wrong-doing on the Internet. By this logic, neither should ISPs or people who run a website be forced to surrender their logs at request. Surely the government wouldn't take privileges unto itself that it would not give to its citizens, right?

Re:On the other hand... (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184657)

>Obviously the notion that they can't provide the IP information for security reasons is bogus.

That determination is for the higher court to make. I read it more like a judge saying "That's all you've got, an IP address? You need better evidence in my court. Dismissed."

I might be inclined to make the same judgment if you brought me and IP address from a log in a leaf node and said this was proof without reasonable doubt of a crime. Why didn't the original request ask for a name? I certainly would expect a court to respond more favorably to an accusation of a person, than one against a number.

I agree that the stated rationale is bogus, but I disagree about the strength of the plaintiff's case.

It might have been a better strategy, if the people at Wikipedia had alerted the state offices that they believed someone was spoofing their addresses...
(If they investigated themselves, they would have tripped over their own clown shoes.)

Re:On the other hand... (1)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184773)

That determination is for the higher court to make. I read it more like a judge saying "That's all you've got, an IP address? You need better evidence in my court. Dismissed."

I might be inclined to make the same judgment if you brought me and IP address from a log in a leaf node and said this was proof without reasonable doubt of a crime. Why didn't the original request ask for a name? I certainly would expect a court to respond more favorably to an accusation of a person, than one against a number.

The IP (and related edits) is evidence that a crime was committed, and where, but not evidence of who committed the crime. As such, it was pretty solid evidence and certainly warrants further investigation. The standard in such a case is probable cause, not reasonable doubt, and is certainly met by the evidence.

Look at it this way: if someone was calling in fake bomb threats to hospitals and they got the persons number from caller ID, don't you think that would be a lead worth investigating? Even if you didn't have the name of the person making the calls yet?

--MarkusQ

Re:On the other hand... (1)

Aetuneo (1130295) | more than 5 years ago | (#26185717)

However, the IPs are already known, as they were logged in wikipedia edits. The issue is what offices those IPs belong to, which is necessary for the lawsuit to target the right people.

FAGjOrZ (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26183889)

yes, I work for BSD machines share, this news another c?unting lis7 of other halt. Even Emacs

Obligatory (1)

tinkertim (918832) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184087)

Sorry, no one else killed their karma with this one, so I felt compelled to do so:

There was only one IP involved in the edits, apparently it was 127.0.0.1 ..

An invitation (1)

put_the_cat_out (961909) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184341)

Isn't this sort of court decision nothing more than an invitation to hackers to break into the computers at the known IP addresses to discover which state office they lead to?

TRACK THIS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26184377)

Proxys FTW :)

Ban Them Entirely (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184609)

Just ban the entire Arkansas government IP range from Wikipedia edits until they become more reasonable. Small amount of effort - big payoff.

As for the IP address, you already have that. What else is given away by tying it to the computer used?

So cange the IPs (1)

JerryLove (1158461) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184821)

If, for the sake of argument, we assume that tying the IPs in question to a department poses an ongoing risk... then change the IP subnet assignment in the specified range. It can be done in a night.

Of course it's silly to assume that knowing which department uses which IP creates some added risk of attack.

not a crime (1)

ffflala (793437) | more than 5 years ago | (#26184843)

It sounds like doing so is at worst a violation of the state employee handbook.

Using AK state property to edit Wikipedia, while an inappropriate and partisan use of state resources, was almost certainly not a crime.

Easy solution (1)

AftanGustur (7715) | more than 5 years ago | (#26186143)

There are many ways to impliment this but Wikipedia could let each user from the same network see a popup whenever they access the side.

The popup would say something like "In order to improve the quality of Wikipedia, please specify your ISP (or company) and general location"

I'm sure someone would eventually give away their location.

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