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US Army Files Found On Second-Hand MP3 Player

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the great-seller-+++ dept.

Security 184

MichaelSmith writes "A New Zealand man who bought a second hand MP3 player from a store in the US found it loaded with the names and personal details of American soldiers, as well as a mission briefing and information about equipment. Chris Ogle says he will return the unit to the US Defense Department if asked, and that it never worked as a music player anyway. A slightly different version of the story is available from TVNZ."

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YEAH! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26606993)

wohooooo

what are the exit policies of the army? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26607031)

i would think that in an organization as large and as stereotypically stringent as the us army that they'd have some sort of exit policy for equipment and personnel. could it be that it was bypassed in an extraordinary effort by trolls to make a pun about goatse or other stretched orifices left with wounds made by sharp objects exiting their bodies?

Re:what are the exit policies of the army? (5, Informative)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607441)

i would think that in an organization as large and as stereotypically stringent as the us army that they'd have some sort of exit policy for equipment and personnel.

I would have thought so, too, until I spent a few years in the US military. You'd be amazed how much and what kind of stuff makes it past policies (exit or otherwise). When I lived in a military town, it seems like I'd see a story every year or so about about service members getting caught with garages full of new and/or used stuff.

Re:what are the exit policies of the army? (2, Funny)

UseTheSource (66510) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607543)

When I lived in a military town, it seems like I'd see a story every year or so about about service members getting caught with garages full of new and/or used stuff.

That would make for one hell of a 'garage sale'! ;)

Re:what are the exit policies of the army? (0, Offtopic)

andereandre (1362563) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608913)

hmm, not so happy about your sig. Especially because "The One 'leader'" as you call it made it clear that he can't do anything on his own. But being from Europe I am perhaps a bit oversensitive about people who don't understand a thing about that part of history.

Re:what are the exit policies of the army? (1)

DelgadoRandom (1452893) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608699)

Military personnel are also favored targets for petty thefts while on leave. In many European countries, the Army provides unmarked, but so obviously government vans (read: plain white 'child molestor' type) for use by service members there on training rotations when they want to take in the sights. Thefts and break-ins are rampant as a result, esp. in parking lots near popular tourist sites.

Re:what are the exit policies of the army? (1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608207)

i would think that in an organization as large and as stereotypically stringent as the us army that they'd have some sort of exit policy for equipment and personnel.

You'd think that an organization as large and as stereotypically stringent as the us army would store their privileged data on something a little more robust, professional, and secure than an iPod.

Re:what are the exit policies of the army? (2, Interesting)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608453)

The Army doesn't used iPods to store data. Service members, however, have a habit of ignoring policies and using whatever storage mechanism is handy to transfer data between systems. I'm in the Navy, and I've seen similar behavior. Yes, there are policies against it on my side as well. Stuff still happens, and this is exactly why we have rules concerning storage devices.

Re:what are the exit policies of the army? (5, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608863)

The Army doesn't used iPods to store data. Service members, however, have a habit of ignoring policies and using whatever storage mechanism is handy to transfer data between systems. I'm in the Navy, and I've seen similar behavior. Yes, there are policies against it on my side as well. Stuff still happens, and this is exactly why we have rules concerning storage devices.

The problem is, if you ban storage devices, you're gonna have to provide an equally convenient way to move data around. Otherwise everyone's going to find their own method, which may be as simple as emailing it around.

The issue is that rules are made, but the rulemakers don't realize the reason why people were doing what they were doing. Ban storage devices, and if someone still needs to get data from point A to point B, well, you've just got a bunch of people who are going to find a way to either circumvent the rule, or to find an alternative, which may not be as secure.

Banning the devices without an equally convenient alternative will just result in people finding workarounds. Just don't be surprised what those workarounds are. Interfere with people Getting Stuff Done(tm) without educating them on How to Get Stuff Done without X...

Do it Chris Ogle! (3, Funny)

Eddy Luten (1166889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607043)

Chris Ogle says he will return the unit to the US Defence Department if asked

They will also be able to conveniently download the contents on Wikileaks.org in 4.. 3.. 2.. 1..

Re:Do it Chris Ogle! (4, Funny)

von_rick (944421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607245)

in 4.. 3.. 2.. 1..

NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, , and nice red uniforms!

Re:Do it Chris Ogle! (3, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607673)

No papal fanaticism?

Splitters!

Re:Do it Chris Ogle! (1, Funny)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608257)

Bloody hell, we'll come in again...

Re:Do it Chris Ogle! (2, Insightful)

omuls are tasty (1321759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608841)

Slashdot mods don't get Monty Python references? Dang it, the times they are a-changin...

Re:Do it Chris Ogle! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26608997)

Or they get but perhaps... Just perhaps... They are beginning to appreciate less and less when dozens of people always post the same quotes from the same movies that we have all seen. They are offtopic, after all. I personally consider funny mod to be for comments that are funny, clever and RELEVANT TO THE SUBJECT.

For example, when there was speculation about MS dropping Zune, someone commented something like "Yeah, they should stick to what they are good at: OSes. Oh, wait..." and I thought that it deserved it's funny status. However, I don't think that every single comment that has some obvious Monty Python reference after several others have already made MP references deserves automatically the +5 status they seem to always get.

tl;dr Fuck you and your children too.

Illin with the panicillin? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26607287)

Is she illin with the panicillin?
Is she reelin in the panicillin?
Is it feelin with the panicillin?
Are you steelin in the panacillin?

Panka Panka

Is she liable no suitifiable no not on trial but so suitifiable
Is she viable no suitifiable pliable style is so suitifiable
so reliable no suitifiable shes not on file but so suitifiable
im on the dial its so suitifiable its like im liable but more suitifiable

Re:Do it Chris Ogle! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26607445)

And I thought posting it on wikileaks was HOW he wanted to return the data... ;-)

And the previous owner was? (5, Insightful)

El Torico (732160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607079)

The Army should ask for the return of the MP3 player (and pay for it), find out who put the files on it, and punish them. I don't expect that to happen.

Re:And the previous owner was? (5, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607105)

Most likely they will try to punish the current owner.

Re:And the previous owner was? (1, Funny)

Linuss (1305295) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607115)

Yes yes, brand him a traitor and try to get him extradited to Texas so they can sentence him to death.

Re:And the previous owner was? (5, Insightful)

Gandalf_Greyhame (44144) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607475)

I am just trying to work this out. How is a New Zealand citizen able to commit treason against the US?

treason: (noun) the crime of betraying one's country

Re:And the previous owner was? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26607535)

Because you're either with us or you're with the terrorists. Didn't you get that memo?

Re:And the previous owner was? (0, Offtopic)

Linuss (1305295) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607565)

Exactly.

Newsflash Gandalf, humor isn't dead.

Re:And the previous owner was? (1)

Linuss (1305295) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608357)

Theres no need to mod me down because you don't get a joke gandalf. seriously now.

Re:And the previous owner was? (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608073)

I believe the equivalent for foreigners is "an act of war".

Re:And the previous owner was? (1)

Brad_McBad (1423863) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608813)

Nope. Only if has the power to legally declare war on behalf of his country. He's done nothing wrong under New Zealand law, excepting any crazy treaties. If the US wants to do something to him then they have to prove he violated their law within their sovereign territory, then try to get him extradited.

I'm kinda hoping the current president isn't the kind of guy to declare war over a second hand iPod...

Re:And the previous owner was? (3, Interesting)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607121)

I really doubt that the US Army is going to try and punish an innocent New Zealander for trying to do the right thing.

Although I guess I'm not sure that announcing this to the news was "the right thing."

Re:And the previous owner was? (4, Insightful)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607235)

I'm not sure that announcing this to the news was "the right thing."

I think it was. Divulging the specific contents of the device might be inappropriate, but letting the world know about a screwup like this is most certainly "the right thing."

Re:And the previous owner was? (5, Interesting)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607465)

"I really doubt that the US Army is going to try and punish an innocent New Zealander for trying to do the right thing."

Unfortunately, "doing the right thing" does not protect one from bureaucrats. When someone in a suit wants someone punished, they will find a target, even if it happens to be the person who did "the right thing." My favourite example of this was a woman who worked for a mid-sized company as an accountant. She noticed something questionable on the books and reported it to her boss. Her boss told her to ignore it and proceed. She knew that her boss was dodging the IRS and, not wanting to be a party to tax evasion, she reported the company to the IRS and quit. The IRS began an investigation and found, sure enough, the company was illegally avoiding paying taxes. The company, of course, used every method to dodge the IRS. The IRS, having lost their obvious target, decided to use a different tactic and elected to go after the accountant who was working for the company at the time the questionable events took place.

The woman who reported the situation to them.

The IRS ceased her home and garnished her wages (from her new job) to pay off the outstanding taxes. Doing the right thing resulted in this woman being screwed, to say the least.

Yes, this is an extreme example and it's also an example of the old IRS (they've apparently had their power to abuse people reduced since then - this story took place ten or 15 years ago, iirc). But, it is still an example of someone doing the right thing yet still being turned into a target so that someone in a suit can punish _someone_.

Re:And the previous owner was? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26607585)

Link or it didn't happen

Re:And the previous owner was? (2, Interesting)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608249)

Given that I saw it on 60 Minutes (or some such show) about ten years ago, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a link...

Re:And the previous owner was? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26608921)

Yes, because everything, everywhere, is happening on the interwebs.

Re:And the previous owner was? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26607775)

I know a woman that that happened too, almost exactly as you detail. I also know first hand that she was the one that did it and even though she had quit and reported it after investigating the IRS did in fact come after her. Also if it's the same person you forgot the criminal charges she was met with when they also discovered her embezzlement!

Re:And the previous owner was? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26607967)

I knew that woman too! Except it was a man and he was wrongly accused of murder except that the one arm man did it. Then, funny story, they find out he paid the one arm man to do it.

Re:And the previous owner was? (2, Funny)

MadMidnightBomber (894759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608099)

The IRS ceased her home and garnished her wages

That usage sounds weird to this European - like I'd end up with a sprig of rosemary and a bit of orange peel in my pay packet, or something.

Re:And the previous owner was? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26608425)

That's dumb. If they'd seized her home instead of ceasing it, they could've sold it. Even the current market prices, homes are worth more than empty lots.

Re:And the previous owner was? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26609033)

Agreed, link it or give some reference. This sounds absurd to me since I am a tax accountant. I would guess that there is some material fact(s) being left out of this case relative to the accountant's role. Or it's just entirely false. I've seen my share of shadiness with clients, so I'm going to have to question this story.

Re:And the previous owner was? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26607489)

Or.. they can provide him with a free trip to Guantanamo (all inclusive) before Tomorrow to ask him some quick questions.

Re:And the previous owner was? (4, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607257)

My guess is that like so much stuff found in second hand shops near bases, the MP3 player was stolen from the previous owner and sold for beer money. The files on it probably weren't classified or particularly sensitive and the previous owner was using it as a fancy thumb drive.

Re:And the previous owner was? (2)

No Grand Plan (975972) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607509)

The files on it probably weren't classified or particularly sensitive

I'd say names coupled with locations and mission briefings were pretty sensitive, wouldn't you? I don't expect there were any missile launch codes on the player, but still - these pieces of information could have been used for the wrong purpose and could potentially have done harm.

Re:And the previous owner was? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26607839)

Only temporarily. In most cases, after the mission is complete, that information would be mostly worthless.

Re:And the previous owner was? (3, Interesting)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607705)

This would also make a good cover for spies.

It works like this:
1. Spy fills MP3 player with classified information.
2. Spy drops off MP3 player at local second hand shop.
3. Handler buys MP3 player.
4. Profit!

Re:And the previous owner was? (4, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607975)

Wouldn't it be easier to just hide it somewhere (out in the woods for instance) instead of involving a third person who could potentially id both of you if the army comes looking?

Re:And the previous owner was? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608583)

There are a few 'pawn shops' out there that specialize in having a bad memory. While the woods does avoid a certain third party, the 'pawn shop' has the advantage of covering a big crime up by making it look like a believable petty crime.

Odds are it is a petty crime, but it's worth looking in to anyway.

Re:And the previous owner was? (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608679)

Wouldn't it be easier to just hide it somewhere (out in the woods for instance) instead of involving a third person who could potentially id both of you if the army comes looking?

To be fair, a third person could stumble upon it no matter where it's hidden. If there is a stream of stuff at second hand stores near military bases, as the GGP posted, they might think it's more inconspicuous than taking trips to the woods, etc.

To be honest, if I were such a spy, I would at least give the files a .mp3 extension. I don't know how spies work, but it's still plausible.

Re:And the previous owner was? (1)

Unnngh! (731758) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608783)

You missed a step: ???

That doesn't make sense... (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607423)

Most likely they will try to punish the current owner.

What, they're going to sue him for buying what he was offered?

Re:That doesn't make sense... (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607471)

No, it doesn't make sense. But that won't necessarily stop the Army from trying to punish him for being in possession of "government information."

Re:That doesn't make sense... (1)

Xerolooper (1247258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608071)

What, they're going to sue him for...

They can make up some stuff:

  • He is a foreign national who purchased top secret government information.
  • Possession of top secret government information.
  • Transportation of top secret government information out of the USA.
  • Viewing top secret government information

I'm not saying it's right just sayin'.

Re:And the previous owner was? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26607503)

Which is why he should say "to hell with them". After all, it's not his problem anyway. In this age of superpower government, why did he even consider opening his mouth?

Re:And the previous owner was? (1)

rbrausse (1319883) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607117)

what will not happen? Paying, investigating or punishing?

I don't even dare to give odds for any of the three possabilities...

They will be punished (2, Informative)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607175)

The military has already begun a comprehensive policy of prohibiting these devices for this very reason after that worm went through a bunch of military systems because of infected key drives.

Not just the military (2, Informative)

wiredog (43288) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607285)

Most of the US Gov is banning USB key drives, music players plugged into computers, and any other read/write media.

Re:Not just the military (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607427)

I used a firewire based iPod on a military system within a secure area (on unclassified computers only though) for about three years until the security dweebs figured out what an "iPod" was and what "firewire" meant.

Re:Not just the military (1)

SuperBry (1242668) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607443)

Wouldn't they be better off just to disable the USB ports on any machine with access to sensitive information?

Re:Not just the military (5, Insightful)

stiggle (649614) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607627)

Except they would like you use the USB mouse, USB keyboard to actually do some work :-) Easier to just lock the PC itself inside a cabinet so the end user doesn't have access to the box itself, just the keyboard, mouse, monitor.

Re:Not just the military (2, Informative)

sholsinger (1131365) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607733)

They've already disabled USB storage devices on ALL DoD information systems. Not just ones with access to "sensitive" information.

Re:Not just the military (1)

andereandre (1362563) | more than 5 years ago | (#26609055)

would they not better of banning all computers? And while we're at it, all those horrible machines. It was much more fun when you could chop someones arms off and the good sport would say: "it is just a flesh wound"!

Re:Not just the military (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607787)

Most of the US Gov is banning USB key drives, music players plugged into computers, and any other read/write media.

When they should be banning operating systems that allow these devices a convenient attack vector. Seriously, why should a removable device has executable privileges and access to critical system files?

Re:They will be punished (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607783)

Windows Autoplay was a major aggravating factor in that case.

Since you can't trust everything that's on a removable storage device, ESPECIALLY one that's rewritable, automatically executing it is just plain stupid.

You wouldn't execute a random binary you downloaded off the web, so why should your computer simply autoplay a random-ass flash drive?

Re:And the previous owner was? (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607271)

Punish them for what? Is it illegal to keep names and information of unclassified material on your personal computer /mp3 players? At worst, it's FOUO (for official use only) information. While it could reflect on your performance evaluation negatively, there is nothing illegal about the release of FOUO information.

Re:And the previous owner was? (2, Informative)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607411)

Punish them for what? Is it illegal to keep names and information of unclassified material on your personal computer /mp3 players? At worst, it's FOUO (for official use only) information. While it could reflect on your performance evaluation negatively, there is nothing illegal about the release of FOUO information.

If it contains the names & details of armed forces personnel it could very well be defined as a national security breach. The fact it contains a mission briefing & details of equipment would pretty much seal that one.

Re:And the previous owner was? (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607795)

If it contains the names & details of armed forces personnel it could very well be defined as a national security breach. The fact it contains a mission briefing & details of equipment would pretty much seal that one.

All that is available on wikipedia anyway. What do you want to know about the M16 that isn't freely available?

Re:And the previous owner was? (1)

evilkasper (1292798) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607435)

Names and details about soldiers do fall into FOUO, however the article does mention a mission briefing and equipment list. Depending on the details found in the mission brief and the equipment list that could go beyond FOUO and into a classification that could get someone into a good amount of trouble. Banning removable devices is all well and good, but enforcing it is another thing, unless they disable the USB ports on the towers I don't see how this can be realistically enforced.

Re:And the previous owner was? (2, Informative)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607589)

You don't think the army punishes people for violating secure data storage and usage? While slashdot is well-known for it's pessimistic view on life and thinks that every situation requires a tin foil hat you should a LITTLE more faith.

By bringing this to the attention of the DoD they can determine what needs to be done with the MP3 player (most likely buy it from the person). The army takes a very dim view on allowing the names of its personnel leaking to the world. They are very protective about their soldiers. Plus they want to make sure the mission is not sensitive (it could be an old, declassified mission).

If they can ascertain who owned the mp3 player they will most likely have some words with him, and depending on the reasoning behind him putting data on the mp3 player and the other information on it they will determine what to do.

The army spends a LOT of money and a LOT of time securing their data - everyone knows this, especially the slashdot crew. Taking that into consideration to say the army will do very little if anything is a bit of a stretch on your part.

They Should purchase it back (5, Interesting)

ITJC68 (1370229) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607171)

If the military is not smart enough to purchase this item from the person and investigate how and who placed those files on this player then security is an afterthought and obviously flawed. This type of information couldn't have been obtained by a low level recruit either but someone higher in the chain of command. Either the FBI or the CIA should look into this without military oversight so there is no chance of influence. I doubt it will happen but I hope they do.

Re:They Should purchase it back (1)

SpitfireSMS (1388089) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607225)

I agree, but i dunno about the FBI or CIA.
They should just figure out which officer's MP3 player it was and question him about what other kinds of security he may have accidentally released to the public.

And also, if the information was about a mission that was put into action long ago, it may not have any real value to anyone anyway. It doesnt seem like there should be much alarm in this case, but it does raise questions about security in general.

Re:They Should purchase it back (2, Informative)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607351)

That is such an over-the-top reaction. First of all, this sort of thing happens to the magnitude of thousands of times a year. Check any E5 in the Army, and they've got a green "leaders" book with all kinds of personal information about their squad members. In the electronic age, all this stuff is also on their personal computers.

Re:They Should purchase it back (2, Funny)

Dysproxia (584031) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607739)

I also happen to have several low-cost memory devices that contain what might or might not be top secret US military data. I'll gladly offer them for purchase.

Re:They Should purchase it back (0)

MadMidnightBomber (894759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608113)

Even worse, /dev/urandom on my computer contains ALL secret US military data. I'm certainly going to do a 3 pass wipe before I chuck this machine away.

Re:They Should purchase it back (1)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607741)

1) Gov't spends way too much money/time on security for anyone to claim they don't care about it
2) Considering how people always complain the military is extremely secrative about it's actions, including the /. crew, your statement is less "interesting" then the mods who gave you points think it is. It's more "i want to bitch at someone because that's all I can do" comments.
3) The DoD has it's own legal system and investigative staff. It uses rules/laws that are not the same as the rules/laws the general public has to deal with. So the FBI will not be involved unless the President specifically orders it to happen - 99% sure that it will not happen. Normally the CIA would not get involved but since someone from anotehr country bought this mp3 player there is a chance...but again, unless the President orders it to happen it will not be the case.

Guess what - the military is big enough that it can give an impartial investigation and court proceedings on it's own people - and guess what - it does this ALL the time.

So you don't have to doubt they will do their own investigation and you don't have to hope they won't. They will do it - nothing new here.

Daily occurrence (4, Insightful)

mseeger (40923) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607185)

Hi,
i would expect this to happen on a daily basis. Usually the buyer will not be a journalist but some kid. The typical kid will say "boring stuff" and have those files deleted before finishing yawning. By doing so, they prevent more security leaks than most security officers.
Sincerly yours, Martin

Re:Daily occurrence (2, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607229)

But this happened so many time that it became prevalent and finally, someone with more insight got his hands on one. The performance of a security officer is not measured by the number of leaks he prevented, but by the number of leaks he let go...

so? (1)

genik76 (1193359) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607197)

What's the big deal? The mission is probably over anyway, I could surely come up with name of 60 US soldiers using the Internet if I wanted to, and even Wikipedia is full of information on the US Army equipment.

Re:so? (2, Funny)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607241)

It would be really funny if some guy did just that and faked a bunch of mission briefings, put it on his secondhand mp3 player, then sold it to a pawn shop.

Next guy who buys it does the right thing and returns it, but the Army/CIA spend countless resources running in circles looking for the "leak."

Re:so? (1)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607815)

The DoD has to look at it and see if:
1) If the mission is over and if it is not the mission may be compromised...meaning people's lives are at stake
2) It's one thing to google someone's name, its another thing to have a gov't confirmed list. Even worse if it says what they do "Sniper team leader, John Doe....Mission: Assassinate XYZ dictator"... Not only is the mission compromised, but if XYZ dictator finds out he may pay someone off to target John Doe and his family. The army takes the confidentiality of it's soldiers to be a very serious issue.
3) If the equipment is highly classified (e.g. some new technology) do you really want the enemy getting a look?

We don't know exactly what is on it. Also, even if the information is trivial (the names are not), it could be part of a larger issue where some people in the DoD are putting information on mediums not authorized...and worse, accidentally distributing to non-authorized personnel...who in this case happen to be in another country!

Re:so? (1)

KeX3 (963046) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607949)

1) If the mission is over and if it is not the mission may be compromised...meaning people's lives are at stake

Yes, because having your life at stake SURELY wasn't in the job description when you signed up as a soldier! Seriously, it just said "drive jeeps and eat cookies", nothing about this risking of lives when killing other people-business!

Re:so? (1)

rebel13 (973392) | more than 5 years ago | (#26609081)

Just because the job is dangerous doesn't make it excusable for incompetents to make it even more so through violations of information security protocols.

What would you do? (4, Insightful)

mwilliamson (672411) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607227)

Seriously, I'd just overwrite the device with a utility such as dban [sourceforge.net] then keep my mouth shut, forever. This is the advice I'd offer anyone in this sort of situation. I actually take it a step further in that I dban _every_ used storage device I get without first looking to see what is on it, so I have no clue if I ever received something via a second-hand device that I should not have.

Re:What would you do? (1)

SpitfireSMS (1388089) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607263)

Its not about what the guy did with the player.
He obviously did the right thing, instead of trying to sell it to the Russians.
The issue is more of why someone thought it was ok to put this information on an MP3 player of all things, and then sell it without even trying to delete anything.

Re:What would you do? (1)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607323)

He obviously did the right thing, instead of trying to sell it to the Russians.

You bring up an interesting point! What he did was not the right thing, if you ask the Russians. You know, in Soviet Russia, what he did... ah... no.

Re:What would you do? (4, Interesting)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607789)

A guy in my local (sorry, no citations) was sent an indecant image of (obviously) a child, and called teh police. They duely arrived, took a look at it, and took the guy out of the room.

"Ok Sir, i'm going to go out the front door and close it behind me. Before I knock on your door again, that picture will have been deleted from your computer and you'll have forgotten about it. IF you mention it, i'll have to arrest you for posession of an indecent image of a minor."

Even the cops think things like this are best swept under the carpet.

Disclaimer: UK Law, YMMV

Re:What would you do? (1)

Petaris (771874) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607847)

We received some donated computers from the US Army Corps of Engineers and one of them hadn't even been wiped even though the tag on it said the drive was degaussed. I wiped the drive with DBAN and called them up to let them know. They thanked me and said it wasn't a big deal as none of the donated computers had access to classified info as they physically destroy those drives. Still kind of eerie as all the rest had been wiped. I have also found a few CDs in the drives including gov branded win XP disks and even a gov branded active@kill disk. I work for a school and before any drive leaves here it gets autonuked with DBAN. Better safe then sorry with student records. :)

Re:What would you do? (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608415)

I actually take it a step further in that I dban _every_ used storage device I get without first looking to see what is on it, so I have no clue if I ever received something via a second-hand device that I should not have.

At least now you have a written declaration to show your torturer. Maybe he'll believe that.

What an idiot! (1, Interesting)

tyroneking (258793) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607259)

Why did he come out and admit this? The US will either try to extradite him or ban him from entering the US again. And the poor soldier responsible will get shafted too. For what? Just wipe the drive and pretend it never happened moron.

Re:What an idiot! (1)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607515)

And the poor soldier responsible will get shafted too. For what?

Err, he/she will get "shafted" for putting at risk a bunch of people's personal information, as well as information about equipment and a mission, maybe? Would you be thrilled if this genius had dumped your info onto an MP3 and sold it to some random stranger?

If somebody was stupid enough to load a bunch of other people's info onto some personal storage device, then apparently somebody *needs* to smack them upside the head and tell them not to do that any more.

Re:What an idiot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26607825)

I think more likely is that the mp3 player was stolen from the original owner's car or something like that, then hocked for crack at the local pawnshop. This has happened to me with my laptop and I wonder who got hold of it and if any of my files were still intact, or if since it was uberprotected with a password (win2K), the seller or eventual buyer just wiped the drive and reinstalled something else (which is what I hope happened).

Re:What an idiot! (1)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608963)

Yeah, now that you mention it, that's probably more likely than the owner selling it. I imagine anybody with access to that sort of info knows how much hot water they'd be in if they didn't wipe something before they sold it.

Re:What an idiot! (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607923)

Because this is just the tip of the iceberg. I know IT folks in the armed forces that have been in Iraq and Afghanistan and it's just a mess. Hell, they still bring back physical artifacts, data is nowhere near as secure as it should be. You can't really disable everything because they are so far removed, but the front line takes advantage of that... it's a very fine line to try to walk.

They were probably keeping secret (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26607261)

...what they shouldn't have kept secret anyway.

Well, I don't know enough to tell in this case, but it's an important, general question: What information should governmental agencies be allowed to keep secret from the world (and thereby from their own citizens) and what should be available? Remember, we (the people) are the ones to decide that when we decide we want to create a government in the first place.

Re:They were probably keeping secret (1)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607331)

I think "specific mission briefings" and "personal information of soldiers" clearly falls in the category of "Things that the military should be allowed to keep secret."

Surely you don't think that every single offensive, attack, and maneuver should be announced ahead of time?

Where the hell is DHS now? (-1, Troll)

Sun.Jedi (1280674) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607273)

The US spends ~$146B [blogspot.com] plus $46.5B [dhs.gov] per year for 2 wars and DHS, but they can't even scrub an old flash drive?

Allowing that kind of data (if true) is an unconscionable crime. It is a treasonous act, even if in error.

Kudos to Chris Ogle for doing the right thing with this information.

Re:Where the hell is DHS now? (1)

mseeger (40923) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607719)

Hi, you'll need 1$ to scrub the flash drive and 1 million bucks to find out which one. This probably wasn't an army issue MP3 player. Someone was using his own player to transport files from work to home. The player got stolen and ended up on the black market. If you want to prevent this, you need technical measures to prevent writing on confidential data on usb drives. This software has to be installed on each and every PC. Then some brass comes by (usually has more stars than brain cells) and orders his PC to be excluded. Otherwise he cannot perform mission alpha bravo delta. His PC gets an exception rule, his junior assistants gets the same rights.... etc. Everyone knows where this ends. Sincerely yours, Martin

Re:Where the hell is DHS now? (1)

Sun.Jedi (1280674) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608291)

Hi, you'll need 1$ to scrub the flash drive and 1 million bucks to find out which one.

No. You need someone with a brain to say, "no more flash drives of any kind, and no exceptions". There; it's been said, for free even.

There is no sensible reason for variance when one needs information moved from one 'secure' computer to another 'secure' computer with a highly suspect, easily compromised method in the middle. That's free info as well.

This is completely avoidable with 100% surety. My original point remains (and a big booyah fuckyou to the moderator of GPP for not understanding or modding content)... we the taxpayers foot the bill for example after example of incompetence and stupidity, with very little reward in return.

I'd hate to be the original owner (5, Informative)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607333)

Few seemingly innocuous things can get you in greater trouble in any part of the federal government, especially the DoD than bringing a personal portable storage device into an area that is restricted. Copying sensitive information onto one is, itself, a very serious offense that if a soldier gets caught doing will not only revoke any security clearance they had but quite possibly end their career in the federal government.

Re:I'd hate to be the original owner (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607493)

Few seemingly innocuous things can get you in greater trouble in any part of the federal government, especially the DoD than bringing a personal portable storage device into an area that is restricted. Copying sensitive information onto one is, itself, a very serious offense ...

That's why Sandy Berger became his own "personal portable storage device".

So what? (3, Interesting)

TooMad (967091) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607451)

You can find secret information on wikipedia. After getting out of the service I decided to see if certain details were on certain pages and found the secret information. There is probably much more throughout the entire site that seems quite benign but it is still classified.

first rule (1)

alxkit (941262) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607849)

Victoria University strategic studies director Peter Cozens said one of the first rules of military endeavour was to not give the opposition information that could compromise your position.

and the second rule of military endeavour was to not give the opposition information that could compromise your position

Fill in the blanks (5, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26607989)

Chris Ogle says he will return the unit to the US Defense Department if asked, and that it never worked as a music player anyway.

Oh, so it was a Zune?

Ding Chavez (2, Funny)

cerelib (903469) | more than 5 years ago | (#26608993)

I hope the files did not include the full dossier of Ding Chavez and his detailed plans for hostage rescues.
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