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Data Breach Exposes RAF Staff To Blackmail

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the skeletons-in-the-closet dept.

Security 153

Yehuda writes "Wired reports, 'Yet another breach of sensitive, unencrypted data is making news in the United Kingdom. This time the breach puts Royal Air Force staff at serious risk of being targeted for blackmail by foreign intelligence services or others. The breach involves audio recordings with high-ranking air force officers who were being interviewed in-depth for a security clearance. In the interviews, the officers disclosed information about extra-marital affairs, drug abuse, visits to prostitutes, medical conditions, criminal convictions and debt histories — information the military needed to determine their security risk. The recordings were stored on three unencrypted hard drives that disappeared last year.'"

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It's no wonder... (2, Insightful)

viyh (620825) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119407)

All the money that their government has goes to buying moats and other fun things for the MPs.

Goatse and other various and sundry anuses (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28119415)

OK, I'm done for the night. I had to make one troll post. It helps me sleep.

Sorry, mods!

Re:It's no wonder... (1)

Starayo (989319) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119899)

Oh man, oh man, if I can get a moat, I'm going into politics!

Re:It's no wonder... (2, Insightful)

x2A (858210) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121099)

The moat thing was a few grand! And this is a "scandal", is the word thrown about... compare that to other "scandals", such as stuff with stanford, madoff, aig, enron, to name a few off the top of my head... major collapses, hundreds if not thousands of people losing their jobs and/or life savings, and what do we have going on here? "A couple grand to clean my moat please!" *lol* I've never been so proud to be British.

Re:It's no wonder... (3, Insightful)

sa1lnr (669048) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120095)

Bad as it is, the amount pales into insignificance when compared to what we have given banks.

I bet there are a lot of bankers breathing sighs of relief that the focus of the public's ire has switched away from them.

Re:It's no wonder... (1)

siloko (1133863) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120135)

Bad as it is, the amount pales into insignificance when compared to what we have given banks.

I suppose the difference is that we expect bankers to be lieing, theiving cheats but our politicians are at least supposed to have some regard for decent behaviour.

Re:It's no wonder... (2, Insightful)

TheP4st (1164315) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120247)

I suppose the difference is that we expect bankers to be lieing, theiving cheats but our politicians are at least supposed to have some regard for decent behaviour.

Yes the politicians are supposed to have decent behaviour but, I for one have yet to meet a single person that expect them to.

Re:It's no wonder... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120699)

Nothing has switched. Actually, people have been steaming angrily here for a while. I'm just waiting for the first to pop and accelerate some metal into a few banker's heads.

Call me in time for the funeral, I gotta dust off my tapdancing shoes. I wanna dance there! Preferably on the coffin.

Re:It's no wonder... (4, Funny)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120167)

Oh my god the UK recorded something and it leaked! Who could have ever imagined this possible outcome!?

Re:It's no wonder... (0, Troll)

SlashWombat (1227578) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120543)

Really, no body expects anyone in the armed services to be as prudent as a politician might be. (Oh, wait a moment ...). Actually if you know many people in the Armed services, they routinely do the things that these people have admitted to on tape. It would have been more surprising if the people involved had claimed any differently. Even priests (eventually) admit to a bit of hanky panky every now and then. (Admittedly, generally with young boys ...)

Re:It's no wonder... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120685)

Now, now, that's sensible spending. Although it would be cheaper to just hang them and not dump them in the moat, I'm very much for this practice!

Mind boggling (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119417)

If I didn't know that, alas, such mind boggling stupidity was all too possible, I might think that "losing" these had to be some kind of set-up, and the recordings fake.

Re:Mind boggling (1)

noundi (1044080) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120127)

I'm thinking: fine you wanted to grill them to make sure they weren't up to something fishy. But why record it!? What difference would that make!?

Re:Mind boggling (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120723)

Because it's cheaper to blackmail loyality than to buy it? Duh...

Re:Mind boggling (1)

16Chapel (998683) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121019)

*impressed*

You, sir, could have a bright future in the intelligence services. After all, what better way to ensure that your people are immune from blackmail than to have the other side using false information...

Tell me... (4, Insightful)

orngjce223 (1505655) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119419)

why didn't they just encrypt the disks? If it's supposed to be sensitive information, store it securely!

Re:Tell me... (5, Insightful)

canipeal (1063334) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119651)

why didn't they just encrypt the disks? If it's supposed to be sensitive information, store it securely!

Because that would require common sense and competence.

Re:Tell me... (4, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120229)

Requires competence. Most non-techies aren't aware that you can encrypt disk drives. They're also not aware that the Windows Password does nothing to protect the data if the device is physically stolen. Lack of common sense isn't really a fair criticism. Lack of competence certainly is.

Re:Tell me... (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119821)

Oh encryption isn't nearly as good as hiding it in an anal cavity. Even if they find it, they won't want to listen.

Re:Tell me... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120745)

It would sound kinda muffled, I guess.

Re:Tell me... (1)

fluch (126140) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120431)

You must be new to the UK...

Re:Tell me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28120867)

Because if they encrypt it, they could risk Going to Prison? [slashdot.org]

Since the RAF already knows... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28119427)

...doesn't this kind of mute the blackmail angle for the RAF security?

Re:Since the RAF already knows... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28119489)

No. someone can blackmail them by threatening to go public. What it does though is make the staff involved a security risk to the RAF. After all, if they can be blackmailed, they can't be trusted any more.

Re:Since the RAF already knows... (4, Interesting)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119519)

Sounds like a convenient way to legally fire or reassign someone.

Re:Since the RAF already knows... (1)

fluch (126140) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120439)

Also you seem to be new to the UK... ;-)

This is how it is done with highly secretive tech (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28120493)

I worked for a while in this area. If you want to get rid of a failing, and very expensive, defence project, the best way to do it is to have an 'accidental' security stuff up. That way you can ditch the failed program under the guise of 'national security' rather than incompetence, mismanagement, and the various other real reasons for project failures. This also means the project managers usually get off from being completely incompetent. Rather than have a failed project, they have a security breach, which is often investigated and forgotten about with a slap on the back and a guffaw (especially if the member is a part of the boys club).

It wouldn't surprise me if the stuff up was part of some Machiavellian back room defence politics. The old canard that civilians (especially on /.) state about choosing incompetence over conspiracy can be thrown out the window when it comes to national security and defence. Many of these individuals realize they have a system that can be exploited for their own personal gain if needed.

Re:Since the RAF already knows... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28119499)

um, just because your boss knows something embarrassing, it doesn't mean your wife, family, whole world needs to know.

On the other hand, if your boss has special forces, it could work to your advantage...

Idiot: "Sir, you know that midget fetish I spoke about during the security interview?"

Chief Idiot: "Yes? I really quite enjoyed that bit. Quite naughty!"

Idiot: "Well, there are some chaps who think they can hold it over me, for a few quid, per week... not tell the missus, and all."

Chief Idiot: "Oh, well, that's not right, I'll send some SAS over there ASAP and they won't be a problem anymore."

Re:Since the RAF already knows... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28120063)

Actually the whole point about these interviews is to screen out people who are susceptible to blackmail. If you had an extra-marital affair and your wife doesn't know, then you either tell your wife or you don't get security clearance.

Re:Since the RAF already knows... (1)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120345)

Yeah, while funny in the way parent wrote it, that's the whole point. If the RAF already knows what people could try to blackmail you with, it gives both you and them additional options. For them, it means they can decide that you may better not be trusted with some information. For you it means going to them and putting the cards on the table when you are being blackmailed is easier, since they already know the dirt anyways. Then you can work with them to find a way out, like providing the blackmailers with false information, or simply taking care of them.

Re:Since the RAF already knows... (2, Interesting)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119825)

Just because their bosses already know doesn't mean their wives did.

Re:Since the RAF already knows... (1)

NNKK (218503) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120111)

Or even if their wives know, maybe their children don't.

And it's not just intra-family issues. For example, would you want a future employer to know if you had a past drug problem? Maybe you want to run for political office one day; details of visits to prostitutes might be of extreme interest to the media.

Re:Since the RAF already knows... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28120863)

spot on. the information provided by the people requesting a security clearance would be used to evaluate whether someone is susceptible to blackmail *assuming someone else knows about that info*. consequently, if one was susceptible to blackmail the clearance should not have been granted in the first place.

I Like this ! (0, Offtopic)

AftanGustur (7715) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119533)

Slashdot is missing a "like" button ..

Slashdot is not Facebook! (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119807)

(n/t)

Re:Slashdot is not Facebook! (1)

yo303 (558777) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120581)

Great work! It's awesome how you just TOTALLY NAILED that clueless poster like that, with a UID approximately one hundredth of yours.

Re:Slashdot is not Facebook! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28121157)

Shut the fuck up. UID means nothing.

Mr. Bean, Ministry of Defence Internet Security (5, Funny)

leftie (667677) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119551)

"Ummm..."

Re:Mr. Bean, Ministry of Defence Internet Security (4, Funny)

legallyillegal (889865) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119603)

I guess this is what happens when you put a teddy bear in charge of implementing security protocols.

Re:Mr. Bean, Ministry of Defence Internet Security (3, Funny)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120485)

I guess this is what happens when you put a teddy bear in charge of implementing security protocols.

I dunno, I thought the "Do *not* leave at the pub" stickers on the drives were a brilliant idea.
Well, back to the drawing board.

RAF stands for... (-1, Flamebait)

grepya (67436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119597)

Royal Air F***s

I feel MUCH safer now! (5, Insightful)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119605)

These are the same idiots who are putting surveillance cameras everywhere, fingerprinting and taking DNA samples from musicians who are simply visiting the UK to play in a few clubs (then denying them entrance because the clubs hadn't paid a fee and agreed to report on them), and generally acting like fascists.

They're great at grabbing reams of private information they would have no right to if Britain were still a free society. Protecting it from unauthorized access? Not so much.

Goddamn wankers!

Re:I feel MUCH safer now! (4, Insightful)

BlackSabbath (118110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119783)

Indeed. I find it ironic that a nation that increasingly acts as if every citizen were a potential enemy of the state, is so free with information that could aid real enemies of the state.

I do so wish George Orwell were alive to see the UK now.

Re:I feel MUCH safer now! (3, Insightful)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119969)

He didn't need to. He was writing about the UK 60 years ago.

Now he'd just kill himself.

Re:I feel MUCH safer now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28119997)

Indeed. I find it ironic that a nation that increasingly acts as if every citizen were a potential enemy of the state, is so free with information that could aid real enemies of the state.

I do so wish George Orwell were alive to see the UK now.

MOD previous post up

Thank god I am not in the UK you get the impression that the government thinks average joe/jane citizen is a criminal.

They even have assassination squads in the London police force.

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

Re:I feel MUCH safer now! (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120103)

I do so wish George Orwell were alive to see the UK now.

It's probably just as well he isn't, the shock would kill him.

Re:I feel MUCH safer now! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120817)

He'd probably shoot himself. His parting note would say "Doesn't anyone READ anymore?"

When were we a free society? (3, Interesting)

fantomas (94850) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120225)

"They're great at grabbing reams of private information they would have no right to if Britain were still a free society."

When were we ever a free society? When has any country been "free"? I suppose there's a philosophical discussion to be had here but I get the sense that

  • a: we might be as free now as we've ever been and
  • b: this is close to a conversation about a mythical golden age that never was (I like the definition that golden ages are invariably the belief that things were better two generations ago)...

Interested to hear when you think the UK was a 'free' society. It would have to probably be after 1928 - universal suffrage, before then women under 28 couldn't vote so they weren't very free. Couldn't be 1939 - 1952 as we had identity cards then. Interested to hear your definition of 'free'.

cheers.

Re:When were we a free society? (0, Troll)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120827)

Excellent post! I agree the "good old days" is nothing more than selective memory from old farts that is parroted by their children. When I was growing up in Australia during the 60's, Aborigines couldn't vote, you could be arrested for displaying a replica of the statue of David, certain books were banned, NEWS was heavily censored, conscription was a GoodThing(TM), gays and abortionists were thrown in jail, unmarried mother's were forced to give up their children at birth, couples "living in sin" were ostracised, etc, etc. The west really is a more humane place to live than it has ever been despite the best efforts of GWB and Howard to drag us back to the 1950's.

When the UK starts putting cameras inside every home and strapping rats to people faces then I might take the shrill panic of the 1984 crowd a bit more seriously.

Re:When were we a free society? (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120877)

We gained more and more freedoms over time. Looking back, we certainly enjoy more freedoms today than we did a hundred years ago, at least in Europe. Most of mainland Europe was ruled by autocratic kings and emperors who restricted the exchange of ideas and discussions, criticising the government was often close to high treason. We sure came a long road from this.

When you look at it with a finer grained system, you'll notice, though, that liberties are in decline, though, and have been since the 1960s, at least in my perspective. It's been especially rough in the last ten or so years, when people all over the world could easily communicate with each other and exchange ideas much more easily and rapidly than ever before. Such things frighten governments and other powerful people. Because it's also never been easier to "spill the beans" and whistleblow.

Government and industry are quite close to each other these days, and neither wants some of their practices to be smeared all over the planet, for everyone to read. It's never been easier for people to get information into circulation, content is not just music and movies, it's also information and ideas, and they can be spread, multiplied and distributed just as quickly.

And that's what scares not only the content industry, but everyone who could be threatened by the quick distribution of any kind of information.

Re:When were we a free society? (1)

horza (87255) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121137)

I think the golden age ended when Tony Blair rolled tanks into Heathrow airport in 2003. Combine the detention without trial laws, eborders effectively making all English citizens prisoners in their own country, RIPA (even that is a watered down version of what the government wanted to be a key escrow scheme), data retention laws for ISPs, pressure on ISPs to adopt IWF censorship, copyright laws run wild thanks to the States (eg garage owners sued for mechanics playing music in the back room where customers might be able to hear it), speed cameras being turned from safety devices to profit-making machines, add this to the surveillance cameras, London road cameras tracking every car license plates, the genetic database being built up, the biometric ID cards coming, then throw in the inevitable banking laws that will come in under the auspices of anti laundering and tax evasion but will just give banks the ability to snoop into your personal life...

Life in the 90s was good. Post-9/11 things went downhill.

Phillip.

Oh, the irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28119615)

Probably the reason they want to know about hos and dope is to assess their vulnerability to blackmail in the first place.

Damned if you do... (2, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119619)

the officers disclosed information about extra-marital affairs, drug abuse, visits to prostitutes, medical conditions, criminal convictions and debt histories -- information the military needed to determine their security risk

If yes to any of the above do you want these as officers? Even the extra-marital affairs in most circumstances provide proof that the person is capable of disloyalty.

The real problem is if they have done any of this and don't admit to it, they're disloyal, liars that shouldn't be given clearance. If they do admit it, they're too stupid to be in a position of authority. The only way time you want to ask these questions is if you know the answer in advance and the answer is "squeaky clean".

Re:Damned if you do... (5, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119669)

How sick would a person have to be to be incapable of disloyalty?

Re:Damned if you do... (2, Insightful)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119961)

How sick would a person have to be to be incapable of disloyalty?

This is a good question. This is also known as asking the wrong question. Please turn in your security credentials now and report to the Division of Thought Alignment for an adjustment.

Re:Damned if you do... (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120513)

Depends on the use. At the end of special forces training, the wash outs might get to write an essay about themselves.
This time the readers will be looking for inner 'killer'.
Show just the right combination of hate, rage and greed, out might get you into 'other' work.
Most forces are looking for info about classic blackmail.
The handing out of equipment of the back of a truck to the IRA, selling to the Soviets over 30 years.
All because you like children.
In reality entrapment is hard work, walk ins are better.
Security tests do show a variety of the more clandestine services your past and skill set.
They know your fit, smart and can kill, but could you run a death squad?
Then be trusted never to talk about it?
You might get tapped to join 'something' one day.
A charming person who pays for sex or likes to gamble would be fit into any large city.

Re:Damned if you do... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28119759)

If they rule out every officer who's ever cheated on their wife, screwed a hooker or gotten stoned... there'd be no candidates left :-P Hell, two out of those three are pretty much standard issue for the military.

Plus, remember that most of these guys got to where they were on qualifications (save a few from nepotism). Can this person lead soldiers (well, pilots, but the point stands), can they give orders, obey orders, and maintain their calm under adverse conditions? If they can, they're qualified (and sorely needed). If they also happen to be an unfaithful indebted crazy coke-headed john, oh well.

Re:Damned if you do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28119773)

the officers disclosed information about extra-marital affairs, drug abuse, visits to prostitutes, medical conditions, criminal convictions and debt histories -- information the military needed to determine their security risk

If yes to any of the above do you want these as officers? Even the extra-marital affairs in most circumstances provide proof that the person is capable of disloyalty.

The real problem is if they have done any of this and don't admit to it, they're disloyal, liars that shouldn't be given clearance. If they do admit it, they're too stupid to be in a position of authority. The only way time you want to ask these questions is if you know the answer in advance and the answer is "squeaky clean".

Generally these questions are not asked with the sole purpose of ascertaining a candidates moral or ethical standards, but more to determine their risk of being compromised by an adversary (read - blackmailed, etc).

For example, someone who has had marital affairs or has high debt have an avenue that an adversary can take to coerce the candidate to divulge sensitive information.

So really, I don't think it comes down to a question of loyalty.

Re:Damned if you do... (4, Interesting)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119891)


A lot of the people hiring will have indulged in all these behaviours and wont condemn someone for them. Rather it will make them part of the club. Use of prostitutes in the armed forces? Goodness - that could never happen! With some groups, the person who never touched drugs, doesn't pick up prostitutes is the one that makes everyone else uncomfortable. In Bosnia, the private military firm DynCorp was actually buying girls as forced prostitutes (and I do mean girls - some were fifteen. And this were US soldiers). Related, its one of the reasons women face a 'glass ceiling' in some areas, such as the upper military, high finance, etc. It's because the wealthy / powerful men who are accustomed to doing as they please feel uncomfortable saying: "hey lets all do some lines and pick up some hookers" when someone from "the other side" is amongst them.

Re:Damned if you do... (2)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120037)


I'd better correct myself before someone else does. I referred to the employees of DynCorp as "US soldiers". Whilst there are plenty of incidents of misbehaviour on the part of any nation's soldiers (it's that odd double standard that is expected of people who are paid to kill, but not to beat people up or hurt women), the employees of DynCorp were not soldiers but service personnel, e.g. mechanics on helicopters (bad ones, apparently). Unfortunately they were still protected by the US government's refusal to allow the Bosnian government to prosecute US military forces (so they are de facto, US military) for breaches of Bosnia law while over there, and secondly, by the US governments own refusal to prosecute these people for rape, sex slave trafficking, etc. A very shameful situation.

Re:Damned if you do... (4, Insightful)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119937)

If yes to any of the above do you want these as officers?

If you threw out everyone who has ever done that one "immoral" thing, you'd have no one left. Everyone makes mistakes. Its even in the bible somewhere--a story about throwing stones (disclaimer: never read the bible). These are officers of a military. They are trained to kill people. Measure the morality of their actions against that fact and you'll find that indulging in something like and extramarital affair is minor by comparison. My only surprise is here is the lack of encryption.

Re:Damned if you do... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120291)

Everyone is capable of disloyalty.

However, there's presumably no correlation between disloyalty to ones spouse and disloyalty to ones nation. Otherwise someone would have spotted it.

Re:Damned if you do... (1)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120363)

If yes to any of the above do you want these as officers?

Yes.

In fact, I would be very suspicious of anyone who claims to have a spot-perfect past with no youthful sins, stupid mistakes or questionable acts at all.

Now I might have my doubts about someone who has both an affair and goes to prostitutes, while being on drugs all the time thanks to all his contacts from his multiple convictions.

Interestingly, all the /. crowd worries about is the amoral parts. For a blackmailing, a medical condition might be a whole lot more dangerous, depending on what it is.

Re:Damned if you do... (2, Interesting)

rich_r (655226) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120473)

I think you'll find that the DV (developed vetting) process doesn't expect people to be angels. And that is how it should be. It expects the applicant to be honest with the people who need to know and allows them to build a bigger picture of anyrisk you may pose.

An affair doesn't make an officer inherently disloyal to everyone, that's far to simplistic a view to take. If there's a pattern of behaviour, then that is a different matter. Same with finances. If your forever dipping into an overdraft or are mortgaged up the wazoo, then you pose a different risk to someone who's had bad credit in the past but is now exemplary.

The problem is that this system relies on people being able to hand over this information in confidence. If people realise that this is no longer secure, then that vetting scheme is fundamentally broken.

Re:Damned if you do... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28120479)

If yes to any of the above do you want these as officers? Even the extra-marital affairs in most circumstances provide proof that the person is capable of disloyalty

incorrect. The DV clearance (which does a thorough check of ones past and present) does not check for loyalty, it checks for trustability. The clearance system is not a moral judge - if you happen to wear frilly knickers and answer to the name "Joan the slag" at the weekends - that is up to you - so long as you could not be bribed, coerced or blackmailed based on that information about your personal life.

Stuff came out in my DV interviews about the number of girlfriends I had at that time (clearly not a regular on slashdot) and my view was that I couldn't give a fuck about it. They seemed to like that. The subject of what was in my Pr0n collection made for interesting conversation although, I clocked an interviewers notes and he had written 'normal' in that column. that pissed me off.

In my interview, they asked me about my political persuasions - I said I'd hang all the MP's from the nearest bridge if I had half a chance. They liked that as well.

Re:Damned if you do... (1)

gedhrel (241953) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120875)

The point of this is that the security vetting process is intended to air anything that you might be embarrassed about with the vetters (and by extension the state machinery). If they already know, (and you'd be surprised how much they _do_ know by the time the interviews actually happen) and you know they know, the idea is that the information can't be used to blackmail you. For most low-level security clearances the only way you fail is by omitting stuff.

Yes, let's titillate the public with this (1)

gringofrijolero (1489395) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119663)

So they won't notice the drugs and hookers passing through the Lords. Which I'm sure is of much higher quality. And a far bigger turn on to read about. Oooooo, the excitement already has me "standing for the Queen".

An information society (4, Funny)

jasonmanley (921037) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119691)

It seems to me that many organisations would consider payroll, health and other HR info as private and hence restrict access to it on the network, but they wouldn't consider encrypting it with a passowrd - well at least nowhere where I have worked.
And perhaps military institutions consider attack plans, weapons secrets and such as worthy of protection but not an "inteview" that we did "ourselves", "inhouse".
We are learning more and more that this is a connected world - yes even your fridge will have an IP address and be on the net one day mark my words and EVERYTHING will need to be encrypted. Encryption grammar and other security verbiage will be second hand speak for moms and kids ...
"have you packed your lunch"
"Yes mom"
"And MD5 SSL'd your homework via the kerebos LDAP certificate server? You know what happened last time when Mr Jones found your SSH key unencoded on the SELinux partition - I don't want to go through that again"
"Arghh yes mom I have been over this 1000 times with you let it go - my friends and I were scanning photons of the prom dance when James accidentally Bluetoothed a letter from his brother in the army to Amy's communication jewellery which had a compaible 3DES encrytpion algorithm - now will you let it go!? Shees!"
"I'm just saying is all - I have to go and buy some groceries and when I scan my embedded subcutaneous barcode it better not say that I have been SQL Injected because of a bad CRC checksum - I won't be embarrassed like I was the last time"

Re:An information society (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119927)

And that's if we're lucky.

I would rather have that then have a government mandated infrastructure that everything has to go through.

Let's get quantum cryptography and hope to high heaven it doesn't get outlawed.

please explain (4, Insightful)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119829)

Someone wanna explain to me how drug-using hooker-banging ex-cons are OFFICERS IN THE ROYAL AIR FORCE?

Re:please explain (1)

lindseyp (988332) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119875)

I can't explain that. That was my first thought. Having been subjected to a lenghty and in-depth security screening many years ago, I was under the impression that many of those things would be insta-fail, especially if you wanted them kept secret and were therefore blackmailable.

Re:please explain (5, Informative)

bloobloo (957543) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119987)

Drug using: As long as it isn't in the last year, it isn't an instant fail

Hooker-banging: Not a crime

Ex-cons: In the UK, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act means that after a certain period of time a conviction can be considered "spent"

Re:please explain (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120301)

Ex-cons: In the UK, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act means that after a certain period of time a conviction can be considered "spent"

I'm sure that doesn't cover high ranking government jobs.

But the armed forces do have a different attitude than other professions. They're really not that concerned about your history, instead being of the opinion that they can mould anyone into shape.

Re:please explain (1)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120735)

Ex-cons: In the UK, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act means that after a certain period of time a conviction can be considered "spent" I'm sure that doesn't cover high ranking government jobs.

Of course not--that's when you become ineligible.

Re:please explain (2, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119995)

There's a limit. I.e., if you're the sort of person best described as a "drug-using hooker-banging ex-con" and that's it, you're not getting in. But if you're basically an upstanding citizen who in your younger days smoked a joint or two, visited a prostitute once or twice, or got caught shoplifting some low-value item, it would be stupid for the service to reject you on that basis alone. (Actually, as far as the prostitution bit goes, fighter jocks and hookers go together like ducks and water.)

Re:please explain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28120047)

Someone wanna explain to me how drug-using hooker-banging ex-cons are OFFICERS IN THE ROYAL AIR FORCE?

emphasis added...

Re:please explain (2, Interesting)

daBass (56811) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120067)

Why do so many folks expect the people we hire for our dirtiest jobs (like thermo-nuclear incineration of entire nations) to be do-no-harm nice guys?

At best you are going to get people who act like the majority of the society they represent.

That's quite simple, actually. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28120191)

> Someone wanna explain to me how drug-using hooker-banging ex-cons are OFFICERS IN THE ROYAL AIR FORCE?

Well, they can't all go into politics.

Re:please explain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28120207)

They are known as the Brylcreem Boys for a reason, you know!

You want to read up about our nobility (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120265)

You want to read some history books (and sometimes even the newspapers) about what our nobility and occasionally royalty have got up to over the years.

Re:please explain (5, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120311)

They're humans just like the rest of us?

The list mentioned in the summary is probably from the topics/questions asked about. That doesn't mean that everyone of the subjects - or even just one of them - has an affirmative answer in all of them. I suspect the truth is rather boring, with one officer having done some drugs in his youth, a different one having an affair, a third one preferring professionals, several with completely clean sheets, someone with a conviction for some minor (but criminal) stuff done before he joined the force, etc.

If you have to lay open your entire history - and background checks work like that - then it's very unlikely that you would find enough people with perfectly white shirts in the entire commonwealth to staff even one airforce base.

Re:please explain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28120545)

If we are limiting this to hookers, please have a look at the historical conduct of every armed forces of every country in the world throughout the entire history of mankind (not excluding the Vietnam War and Serbia).

Re:please explain (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120593)

Can you fix the plane first time?
Or are you a good boy or girl who sealed a tool in another jet .. again?
Jet work is expensive. You have 2 options, hire contractors - like the USA does at 3X the pay grade.
As every other person in uniform escapes the pain on base as soon as they can.
Or you treat your next generation like members of the human race and they stay.
Suicide is another 'problem', all that wasted tax payers money.
Best to be open, keep it all nice and in house. Or you bring in cleared contractors.

viral marketing??? (5, Funny)

zetabrown (687996) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119831)

"extra-marital affairs, drug abuse, visits to prostitutes, medical conditions, criminal convictions and debt histories " - sounds like a viral marketing campaign for the RAF if you ask me - who knew that they had so much fun! I suppose the word 'raffish' had to come from somewhere.

Re:viral marketing??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28120099)

Nice. Mod parent up.

Looks like goverment works the same across the oce (2, Insightful)

klawre1221 (1563971) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119923)

Good to see the Brits have as bad a security as we do.

UK Government loses all data on everyone (5, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#28119931)

Annual reports from Whitehall departments show that the government has lost all data it ever held on anyone [today.com] .

Losses have occurred through couriered unencrypted disks, misplaced memory sticks, lost laptops, briefcases left on trains and files falling down the side of the tea machine. "The real scandal is that a train was running for them to lose a case on," said a source whose name has been lost.

Treasury minister Jane Kennedy said the HM Revenue and Customs breaches did not necessarily result in data losses, or at least any that they have records of. HMRC said it takes data losses and security breaches "very seriously" and thoroughly investigates any breach that it does not lose track of.

Information Commissioner Richard Thomas has served enforcement notices on various departments for their data losses, but the departments in question could not find their office addresses to accept the notices. They noted, however, that Mr Thomas' call was very important to them, and that he had been placed in a queue.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith reassured citizens that plans for an all-encompassing ID card linked to biometric passports and a universal medical record with the NHS would not change because of these losses. "We won't even be thinking about them."

Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28119979)

Has anyone important in the UK not been exposed in the tabloids?

Disappeared == data breach? (1)

daBass (56811) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120045)

How did we go from "three unencrypted hard drives that disappeared" to it being a "data breach"?

Yes, they should have been encrypted and yes, they should not have disappeared. For all we know some idiot stole them reformatted them and now hold their pr0n collection at home. Or the wrong ones were picked up for destruction and they have actually been securely destroyed.

Really, the media and everyone here is getting their panties all in a twist and coming up with fantastical hypothetical situation when the most likely scenario is nothing bad will come from this as it rarely does.

Re:Disappeared == data breach? (3, Insightful)

N1AK (864906) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120255)

Really, the media and everyone here is getting their panties all in a twist and coming up with fantastical hypothetical situation when the most likely scenario is nothing bad will come from this as it rarely does.

Because with information of sufficient importance the very fact we don't have an exhaustive audit trail would be worrying (someone may of gotten access). The fact that we don't even know where it is? That, is scary. Not only is the risk that this data still exists, meaning that either careers will be ruined or national security will be endangered. But additionally it is a further reminder of how incompetent government can be with obviously important data.

Although you may find the strength of feeling some people have regarding this breech to be unfounded, I expect I am not alone in finding your opinion that nothing bad will happen because "it rarely does" incredibly naive.

Re:Disappeared == data breach? (1)

TheP4st (1164315) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120503)

Really, the media and everyone here is getting their panties all in a twist and coming up with fantastical hypothetical situation when the most likely scenario is nothing bad will come from this as it rarely does.

So, since something bad rarely happens from situations like these, lets skip encryption all together on sensitive data?
Or, maybe it would be a good idea to prepare for the worst, and then be able to say "Sure we fucked up and lost these hard drives but they are heavily encrypted thus minimizing the chance for the actual information ever ending up in the wrong hands .

Old story? (1)

jonnyt886 (1252670) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120117)

This was in BBC news at the beginning of the week! Come on, Slashdot!

Open Government (2, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120171)

I guess the British government is now following the principle of "information wants to be free". :P

Re:Open Government (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120663)

Its called a distraction. See how the MP pay thing erupted and now this?
Somebody wants the press and media distracted from something.

consequence (2, Interesting)

anonieuweling (536832) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120289)

All Royal Air Force staff involved can thus forget about any clearance at all since they can be blackmailed.
I guess the military should compensate said personnel for loss of career possibilities and of course improve their data protection/storage/etc policies.

SC (1)

legirons (809082) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120325)

ah, the good old "tell us everything that would be useful for blackmailing you and we'll write it all down" method that RAF use for doing security-clearance... just trust us with all your embarassing secrets - what could possibly go wrong?

gnAaa (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28120375)

only one way to keep data secure (3, Insightful)

cosanostradamus (1553391) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120381)

.
Keep it in your head. There is no such thing as absolute security, therefore there is no such thing as security. If you don't want to share something, don't share it with anybody.
.

late news...? (2, Insightful)

thredder (1211746) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120407)

So losing sensitive data "last year" is only being reported now as a problem!?

I hope that between losing the material and reporting it (several months later), some action has already been taken to minimise the potential for blackmail. ...or were they waiting a certain length of time to see if it turned up somewhere or was posted back to them before panicking.

(I would say that I hope action has already been taken to prevent this from happening again, but I'm not that naive)

Reasons to refuse vetting.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28120931)

3 basic problems with in depth vetting:

1 - someone else gets to know your secrets. Yes, it's to establish which they have to watch to make sure you're not blackmailed, but there's in principle nothing to stop the abuse of that internally. I would have said "ethics" earlier, but you can call me either a realist or a cynic now..

2 - deficient security. As long as a whole government can get away with frankly shameful failures of confidentiality (unsurprising as it is for a setup that depends on spin and leaks to test and influence public opinion) there is nil incentive to do it right. Or, put another way, "good enough" isn't.

3 - you end on a neat, handy short list of people who may know interesting stuff. Translated: the issue (2) above results in you and your family having a target painted on your back, either as someone worth torturing for info or for killing in grotesquely painful ways.

However, be aware that those who ask very much think it's an honor to offer it (to be fair, it's quite a vote of trust), so expect them to be SERIOUSLY pissed off with you for saying "no", but the basic question is not if they trust *you*.

With "them" being an ever changing variable, the question is if you can trust *them*.

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