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Cybersecurity Chief Resigns

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the told-he-had-to-install-all-patches-personally dept.

Security 367

Doc Ruby writes "AP is reporting that 'The government's cybersecurity chief has abruptly resigned after one year with the Department of Homeland Security, confiding to industry colleagues his frustration over what he considers a lack of attention paid to computer security issues within the agency. Amit Yoran, a former software executive from Symantec Corp., informed the White House about his plans to quit as director of the National Cyber Security Division and made his resignation effective at the end of Thursday, effectively giving a single's day notice of his intentions to leave.' Yoran is the third cybersecurity chief in a row, after Richard Clarke and Howard Schmidt, to quit the Bush administration citing organizational inability to do his job. Maybe the job can't be done." In a possibly related story, individuals take cybersecurity lightly: Ant writes "This story says that consumers have a casual approach toward cybersecurity and fail to grasp the pervasiveness of online threats, according to a study released Thursday. More than a third of the 493 PC users surveyed by the nonprofit National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) said they had a greater chance of winning the lottery or being struck by lightning than of being hit by malicious code."

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I just don't believe it! (5, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407161)

Yoran has privately confided to industry colleagues his frustrations in recent months over what he considers the department's lack of attention paid to computer security issues, according to lobbyists and others who recounted these conversations on condition they not be identified because the talks were personal.

Of course they aren't paying any attention. People just aren't knowledgeable enough about the threat of cybersecurity to give a shit. These people think that there is a real threat that their house may be singled out in a dirty-bomb attack because the Bush administration is happy to have them think that. As long as the Bush administration can keep people's minds on a single track of terrorism there's no need to bring to light other avenues of attack. Why should they diversify right now? They might bore the public with their "crying wolf" on dirty-bombs and airplane searches and would need another shiny object to get everyone to pay attention to.

About 90 percent of computer users interviewed remembered the name of the performer from the last Super Bowl halftime show, while only 60 percent knew when they last updated their computer security program.

No fucking way, people remember the name of a performer from the Super Bowl after it was banged into their heads on every media outlet for two months straight? OMFG, I cannot believe it. You mean that these same people who are so concerned with the atrocities being fed to them on TV aren't concerned or knowledgeable about their computer? I can't believe it!

Face it, people don't give two flying fucks about being educated in computer know-how. They want to flip the switch and have it work. If it doesn't work they want to call up their ISP and have them fix it. Their computer is a dumb terminal for their ISP's webpage and http://www.thehun.com. As far as people guessing their chances at being hit by malicious code... They probably seriously believe that malicious code means that they bring home a disk and put it in their drive and run a program that will be an old-sk00l virus. They have no idea that there are programs out there "spying" on them every minute of their surfing experience. They just don't care enough to know. Plus these same people probably do think that their chances of hitting the lottery are good as they are dumb enough to ignore real news for their own realm of importance (Reality TV).

Re:I just don't believe it! (4, Informative)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407288)

If I had mod points, I would give them to you.
On a semi-related note, we're the ones who need to convince people of this. Most people I know are amazed when I tell them what the keyloggers and such do, and show them what just Ad-Aware will come up with. One of my friends (an older lady) actually bought a book on my recommendation because she wants to know what's going on on her computer, and learn more about even basic security.
It takes time, but it's a grassroots movement :) And unless you use the same tactics as the "War on Terror" (the h4x0r5 will get your credit card!) and show them hard evidence of it already being there, it's hard to convince people of the threat.

Re:I just don't believe it! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10407302)

People just aren't knowledgeable enough about the threat of cybersecurity to give a shit. These people think that there is a real threat that their house may be singled out in a dirty-bomb attack because the Bush administration is happy to have them think that. As long as the Bush administration can keep people's minds on a single track of terrorism there's no need to bring to light other avenues of attack.

I don't think malicious code is comparable to terrorist attacks for most people. Of course, there are life-supporting systems vulnerable to attack, and those should be guarded very carefully. But those systems aren't the ones on the average Joe's desk. For the systems average people maintain, malicious code (viruses, worms, spyware) is an aggravation, not a danger. The worst that could happen is that their credit card numbers are stolen. A real monetary loss, but it'd be a stretch to compare it to a bomb of any kind.

Re:I just don't believe it! (3, Insightful)

siriuskase (679431) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407405)

Lives lost is more dramatic than dollars lost. I have to admit, I'd rather lose my dollars than my family. But bringing down the economic system would hurt more people a little bit than most bombs which hurt just a few people a lot. And that little bit could be much more significant in the long run, we know how to dispose of dead bodies, what would we do if banking transaction systems failed? How long would it take for us to be back in business?

Re:I just don't believe it! (1)

siriuskase (679431) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407430)

I could have picked a better example: what would we do if our communications systems failed and we could only communicate face to face? We wouldn't even know the extent of the damage.

Re:I just don't believe it! (3, Funny)

TomorrowPlusX (571956) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407318)

While I'd like to mod you insightful, I have to sacrifice that right, because I have to tell you something:

Your idea of a dumb terminal to TheHun just MADE MY GODDAMN DAY. Somebody, give this man a patent!

That's all,

TomorrowPlusX

Re:I just don't believe it! (2, Insightful)

scottp (129048) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407356)

>>They want to flip the switch and have it work.

I know exactly what you mean. I service several professionals' (CPA's, lawyers, doctors) pc's that feel exactly that way. I try to encourage them to take a basic computer class (copy & pasting, clear printer spool, ipconfig, email attachments, updating software, etc) to make them more efficient instead of calling a tech for every little thing. Their attitude is like, "I know everything I need to know, knowing computers is not my job." Which is unbeliveable when the majority of their everyday job involves using a computer. Then they get pissed when a tech isn't there within 5 mins. Hmm.....maybe I don't charge enough for service calls?

Re:I just don't believe it! (2, Insightful)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407522)

Then they get pissed when a tech isn't there within 5 mins. Hmm.....maybe I don't charge enough for service calls?

Do you think so?

In all seriousness, charge them what you're worth to them. If they're not interested in learning about their systems, charge them for your expertise. If they want to save some money, offer to tell them how to do some of that basic stuff so they won't need to call you for silly stuff.

As evidenced (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407363)

Of course they aren't paying any attention. People just aren't knowledgeable enough about the threat of cybersecurity to give a shit

As evidenced by the recent slashdot articles on 20,000 zombies [slashdot.org] up for sale and the average survival time [slashdot.org] being 20 minutes for a fresh computer on the internet.

Re:I just don't believe it! (1)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407377)

What we need is a sophisticated colour coded chart to inform people of the danger. Or perhaps we can insinuate that all the children in the Mid West will become Ritual Satanic killers because of an email worm.

Homeland security is all about fear and brute force. People do not get worried about cyber security because they are blissfullt ignorant.

However, the day is going to come when cyber security is brought to the fore. Once people lose money or are drastically inconvenienced, there will be some movement to *fix* it.

That is when the Trusted Computing Initiative will be incorporated into federal law and the assimilation of this world will be complete.

Re:I just don't believe it! (2, Insightful)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407381)

Ah America. Where we are too lazy for democracy.

I do find it funny that people will shrug off the probability of something bad happening to them if it's less than being struck by lightning, and then go ahead and by a super-mega-lotto ticket.

Re:I just don't believe it! (4, Informative)

chrish (4714) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407385)

They interviewed 500 people out of 185 million Americans with Internet-enabled computers.

Wouldn't that be called a "statistically insignificant" sample set?

Re:I just don't believe it! (1)

proudlyindian (781206) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407393)

No fucking way, people remember the name of a performer from the Super Bowl after it was banged into their heads on every media outlet for two months straight? OMFG, I cannot believe it. You mean that these same people who are so concerned with the atrocities being fed to them on TV aren't concerned or knowledgeable about their computer? I can't believe it!

Coz ur TV dude has to take action by "himself" to secure himself and he thinks it a burden. For him internet is a burden that he never asked for. He was happy paying bills physically, shopping offline at malls etc.

These are Gen-P (generation previous ppl) mostly 45 and above whereas genX knows internet is THE way to do things and take security more seriously

Re:I just don't believe it! (5, Insightful)

museumpeace (735109) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407483)

People just aren't knowledgeable enough about the threat of cybersecurity to give a shit. These people think that there is a real threat that their house may be singled out in a dirty-bomb attack because the Bush administration is happy to have them think that. As long as the Bush administration can keep people's minds on a single track of terrorism there's no need to bring to light other avenues of attack.

What you say is true enough about the the Joe and Jane Consoomer types that are referred to in latter part of the article but the "people" we are talking about here are the govmint folks whose job and is and whose claim on our loyalty and obedience is their duty TO PROTECT US. If those people don't know Internet Protocol from Intellectual Property we should fire their asses rather than let them drive every competant person they can away from the job.
Any body with a cable modem who took a minute to look at their firewall log could tell you how many times per hour their house WAS singled out for molestation by bots and hackers. Watching some pimple working from behind a Korean ISP try to telnet a home computer in Massachusettes IS a little creepy and the kind of thing that would alarm the average homeowner who would be all over 911 if he saw a person physically prowling about in his back yard...if only they were looking!

Re:I just don't believe it! (4, Insightful)

rahlquist (558509) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407516)

You are right about people not giving a rats ass. But in defense of the idiots out there, part of the problem is the closed loop thats is computer knowledge and those who have it.

When you have none you share none, when you have a little you share that, when you have a good amount you start to keep it to yourself, when you have enough knowledge to say setup a linux box from source, you keep you knowledge closely guarded and dont share shit with the average user.

Why? Because like most things in life when you work hard for somethign you are loathe to just give it away to Dewy Dumbshit who just crashed his system trying to install a video driver for a Nvidia card when his is an ATI. Part of the reason people are ignorant is there is no way for them to learn from experienced users. Thats why we have HR people hiring idiots from places like DeVry and expecting them to be a real system administrator.

So We have 3 groups of users, the haves (have knowledge and know how to use it), the have nots (but may actually want it) and the care nots (folks who want to read their email and dont give a flip about malicious attacks). Everyone was a n00b at one time or another, when was the last time any of you /.'ers sat down and calmly thoroughly explained cyber security to another n00b and gave them true insight?

Me, me, ME (1)

Dorsai42 (738671) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407171)

I'll do it.

He quit Because (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10407173)

He heard that peoplesoft is hiring [yahoo.com] .

What else he said. (5, Funny)

caluml (551744) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407177)

'The government's cybersecurity chief has abruptly resigned after one year with the Department of Homeland Security, confiding to industry colleagues his frustration over what he considers a lack of attention paid to computer security issues within the agency.

He was also heard to say "linux is teh l33t and m$ feerz their mad penguin sk1llz".

bush administration mentality will change soon (0, Offtopic)

Triumph The Insult C (586706) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407192)

because i have a patent pending for transmitting crude oil over the internet

no Digital Pearl Harbors (5, Insightful)

Igloodude (710950) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407197)

Without a Digital Pearl Harbor attack hitting us, it is unlikely that anyone will take him seriously, and since Digital Pearl Harbors was just Richard Clark FUD in the first place, his resignation was inevitable.

Re:no Digital Pearl Harbors (5, Insightful)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407565)

A digital Pearl harbor is not FUD. One day our increasing reliance on automated and interconnected systems to run or critical infrastructure is going to bite us in the ass, and HARD.

It doesn't have to be terrorist related, it could be incompetence or not rebooting your aging Windows system once a month, a-la the recent air traffic control blackout. And we're in serious shit if a tech-savvy threat manages to penetrate power distribution, emergency call, or air-traffic control systems, or who knows maybe all three, and shut it all down right before a devestating physical attack. It's a huge force-multiplier, but in addition it can be a force unto itself. Imagine the whole country going without grid power for a month or two. Not a pretty picture.

As usual, no one will do anything serious until there is a major incident (involving loss of life), after which "computer security" will be beat into our skulls every minute of every day, even if it's draconian and won't actually make people much safer, just like transportation security is today.

Re:no Digital Pearl Harbors (0, Flamebait)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407571)

Oh that Richard Clark, he was just a disgruntled middle manager. No way should you trust what he says in front of congress ... he's craaaaaazyy...

article text for your convenience (1)

Karma Troll (801155) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407200)

U.S. Cybersecurity Chief Abruptly Resigns

By TED BRIDIS

AP Technology Writer


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government's cybersecurity chief has abruptly resigned from the Homeland Security Department amid a concerted campaign by the technology industry and some lawmakers to persuade the Bush administration to give him more authority and money for protection programs.

Amit Yoran, a former software executive from Symantec Corp., made his resignation effective Thursday as director of the National Cyber Security Division, giving a single's day notice of his intention to leave. He kept the job one year.

Yoran has privately confided to industry colleagues his frustrations in recent months over what he considers the department's lack of attention paid to computer security issues, according to lobbyists and others who recounted these conversations on condition they not be identified because the talks were personal.

Yoran said Friday he "felt the timing was right to pursue other opportunities. Think about your breathing." It was unclear immediately who might succeed him even temporarily. Yoran's deputy is Donald A. "Andy" Purdy, a former White House adviser on cybersecurity.

A department spokeswoman, Tasia Scolinos, praised Yoran as a valuable contributor. "Cybersecurity will continue to be a priority of the Department of Homeland Security, and we plan to move quickly to fill the position with someone who has demonstrated leadership in this important field," she said.

As cybersecurity chief, Yoran and his division - with an $80 million budget and 60 employees - were responsible for carrying out dozens of recommendations in the Bush administration's "National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace," a set of proposals to better protect computer networks.

Yoran's position as a director - at least bureaucratic three steps below Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge - has irritated the technology industry and even some lawmakers. They have pressed unsuccessfully in recent months to elevate Yoran's role to that of an assistant secretary, which could mean broader authority and more money for programs.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., complained that Yoran's surprise departure was "yet another setback in the effort to protect our nation's cyber infrastructure," and described the efforts as "in complete disarray." Lofgren and Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, leaders on the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, have introduced a bill - now stalled in Congress - to make Yoran's job an assistant secretary's position.

Senior department officials consider equally important the protection of the nation's physical structures, such as bridges and buildings, and computer networks, which regulate the flow of electricity, phone calls, finances and other information. They maintain that gauging risks to physical structures and computers separately is inefficient and expensive because common problems threaten both.

Under Yoran, Homeland Security established a cyber alert system, which sends urgent e-mails to subscribers about major virus outbreaks and other Internet attacks as they occur, along with detailed instructions to help computer users protect themselves.

It also mapped the government's universe of connected electronic devices, the first step toward scanning them systematically for weaknesses that could be exploited by hackers or foreign governments. And it began routinely identifying U.S. computers and networks that were victims of break-ins.

"Amit's departure provides a challenge for industry and its relationship with the department on cybersecurity," said Shannon Kellogg, director of government affairs for RSA Security Inc., a leading security firm. "He knew how to get the job done."

Yoran effectively took over some responsibilities once assigned to Richard Clarke, a special adviser to President Bush, and to Howard Schmidt, who succeeded Clarke but left government during the formation of the Homeland Security Department to work as chief security officer at eBay Inc.

Yoran cofounded Riptech Inc. of Alexandria, Va., in March 1998, which monitored government and corporate computers around the world with an elaborate sensor network to protect against attacks. He sold the firm in July 2002 to Symantec for $145 million and stayed on as vice president for managed security services.

---

On the Net:

Homeland Security: www.dhs.gov [dhs.gov]

© 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Drop "Cyber" Already!!! (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407203)

If there is one marketing term I despise more than any other, it's "cyber". Well that and putting the letter "e" or "i" in front of terms.

Drop it already! It's sooo 90s, dude.

Re:Drop "Cyber" Already!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10407228)

"Dude" is sooo 20th century.

Re:Drop "Cyber" Already!!! (3, Funny)

Amiga Lover (708890) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407337)

If there is one marketing term I despise more than any other, it's "cyber". Well that and putting the letter "e" or "i" in front of terms.


You might like to spare some loathing for http://www.eCyber.com/ and http://www.iCyber.com/ then :)

Re:Drop "Cyber" Already!!! (1)

sunwukong (412560) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407375)

You've got it!

People won't take this seriously until it's the "Department of e Homeland i Security".

I believe I used up all my Karma with this post. ;-)

No way, I just bought an iMac (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10407461)

but, it was built in 1998!

Re:Drop "Cyber" Already!!! (3, Funny)

irokitt (663593) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407520)

The "Director of Terrorist pwnage" just quit today, citing impossible attitudes towards his job...

Lightning is like a virus (5, Insightful)

swillden (191260) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407215)

More than a third of the 493 PC users surveyed by the nonprofit National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) said they had a greater chance of winning the lottery or being struck by lightning than of being hit by malicious code."

The problem is that many PC users are doing the cybersecurity equivalent of what some idiot did near my home about fifteen years ago.

He was in his boat out on a lake when a thunderstorm moved in. When others on the boat suggested that they should go to shore for fear of lightning he scoffed, stood up on the bow of the boat, stretched his arms upward and shouted "Take me now, God!".

God complied.

Connecting an unpatched PC to a broadband connection is pretty much the same thing.

Re:Lightning is like a virus (1)

Chess_the_cat (653159) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407305)

More than a third of the 493 PC users surveyed by the nonprofit National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) said they had a greater chance of winning the lottery or being struck by lightning than of being hit by malicious code.

This is a meaningless statistic. I bet if I surveyed 493 Slashdotters with the same question I'd get somewhere around 90% answering the same way because it'd be the truth.

Re:Lightning is like a virus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10407426)

I bet if I surveyed 493 Slashdotters with the same question I'd get somewhere around 90% answering the same way because it'd be the truth.

Certainly we're more likely to have taken measures to protect ourselves. There are two simple ones that I suggest to every user who asks me for advice. First, get a virus scanner that can be updated automatically by subscription. Set it up to scan everything coming into your machine. It takes a few minutes, but it's worth it. Second, buy a hub with an integrated firewall. They're cheap these days. You become invisible to probes from your neighbors' infected machines.

Yeah, running Linux or FreeBSD is even better, but I don't really want to talk my mother through installing anything more complex than a new mouse.

Re:Lightning is like a virus (1)

siriuskase (679431) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407306)

As long as knowledgable people have the attitude that victims of crime deserve what they get, realistic attempts to control such crimes are discouraged. Some slashdot types enjoy the superior feeling we get when we hear of the woes of those not in our tech elite.

Concerns about nightmarish tales of computer zombies and such that sound like bad horror movies are so silly when dirty bombs and anthax are lurking out there somewhere.

Re:Lightning is like a virus (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407586)

As long as knowledgable people have the attitude that victims of crime deserve what they get, realistic attempts to control such crimes are discouraged. Some slashdot types enjoy the superior feeling we get when we hear of the woes of those not in our tech elite.

It's the same attitude an assurance company has about you when it comes to securing your home. They tell you that certain types of locks are insecure, and that you should lock your home, and not letting the bathroom window open. And they refuse to pay when they have a wellfounded suspection that the burglars came in because of weak locks and open windows.

It's the same "you deserve it" attitude. If you are going to use a tool, please inform yourself beforehand about possible risks. Please read the manual, make sure you are not endangering other people. Don't demand your assurance company to pay for things that got worse because of your ignorance. If you don't feel apt enough to secure your computer yourself, at least ask someone with more knowledge to have a look. But be aware, that there are risk and take precaution.

Re:Lightning is like a virus (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407358)

Connecting an unpatched PC to a broadband connection is pretty much the same thing.

I have to admit that I'm connected to broadband with an unpatched PC. And I still feel safe. That's because none of the three security vulnerabilies issued for my OS version affect me.

PC != Windows

Re:Lightning is like a virus (4, Funny)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407403)

If they were real PC users you would have at least 986 answers from 386 people surveyed.

Of course the first answer is always "I didn't do anything."

Re:Lightning is like a virus (3, Funny)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407523)

I had a new install of XP for a client become infected in 3 minutes, over a dialup line.

No choice one that one though. I was trying to download the patch to prevent XP from becoming infected in 3 minutes by connecting it to the internet...

If it is anything like my work.... (0, Troll)

AtariDatacenter (31657) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407224)

They can't get anything done because they themselves are cluess (with a manager who doesn't understand security micromanaging security issues), and they're thugs who try to bully everyone into converting everything into SSH.

"You there! You're running SAP, aren't you? You have two weeks to convert this to SSH, or we're shutting you down!"

Re:If it is anything like my work.... (1)

rwven (663186) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407297)

ssh is not a bad thing :)

Now what would be funny would be: "You there! You're running Microsoft Word, aren't you? You have two weeks to convert this to SSH, or we're shutting you down!"

BIG mistake (3, Interesting)

rwven (663186) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407227)

I think we all know it's a ridiculously HUGE mistake to underestimate the importance of cypersecurity. Whoever is responsible for "not paying enough attention" to it needs to be outright fired... We're talking about every classified document in existence being at risk. Frankly i don't blame him a bit for quitting. I think it's ridiculous to blame the problem on the bush administration because i think we all know that's not the case, but obviously someone needs to get their act together....

Re:BIG mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10407298)

> We're talking about every classified document in existence being at risk.

Which is, of course, complete and utter bullshit. Those systems most certainly *are* hardened. It's more like, say, all the major credit card processors going off the net because no one patched the security on the border routers. That sort of thing.

Re:BIG mistake (1)

rwven (663186) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407331)

touche' you may be right...but you may be wrong. He wouldn't have quit if things like that were as secure as you think they are...

Re:BIG mistake (1)

mr_z_beeblebrox (591077) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407452)

I think it's ridiculous to blame the problem on the bush administration because i think we all know that's not the case

Exactly, we have nookalur level security on those systems.

Re:BIG mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10407485)

I know hypersecurity and cybersecurity...but I think I really underestimate the importance of cypersecurity coz I have no clue what it is.

Intractable Problem? (4, Interesting)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407242)

As I said at a meeting one day as people were pulling their hair out over the latest MS worms, and the failures of all of the "automatic patch deployment"-type tools out there, "Maybe the large numbers of Microsoft workstations present an intractable problem". Stunned silence. I half expected to be stoned to death as a heretic. When Corporate America stops sucking on the Microsoft Tit, we'll finally see real improvements in security. As long as paper-engineers and golf-club-wielding PHBs are entrusted with decision making, I see no chance for improvement.

Re:Intractable Problem? (1)

Unoti (731964) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407342)

I would also have pointed out that Skype, Firefox, and Tale in the Desert work great under Linux, and that's what I spend the majority of my workday doing, so Linux is quite viable.

Mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10407373)

You got it.

Until we are ready to fire Microsoft, the bad guys have the advantage.

Re:Intractable Problem? (2, Funny)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407487)

As long as paper-engineers and golf-club-wielding PHBs are entrusted with decision making, I see no chance for improvement.

I hit the icing on the cake Wednesday. My company rolled out a PGP solution for Outlook. Good, right? Wrong! The policy is to write down your passphrase on a paper, give it to IT, who will then store your passphrase for safekeeping in case you lose it.

!!!

I AM more likely to be struck by lightning (3, Insightful)

thpr (786837) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407246)

More than a third of the 493 PC users surveyed by the nonprofit National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) said they had a greater chance of winning the lottery or being struck by lightning than of being hit by malicious code

Given frequent updates, ZoneAlarm, a firewall/router, precautions about not opening things I don't know about, VPNs, and other things, I probably AM more likely to be struck by lighting than hit by malicious code. But I'm a /. reader... :)

Re:I AM more likely to be struck by lightning (2, Insightful)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407327)

Without security, you are more likely to get hit by malicious code than _not_ win the lottery.

A friend of mine is consulting for AOL and he was unable to install Windows 2000 without getting attacked from within their internal network. And from what I've heard the wild Internet is just as bad or worse.

Re:I AM more likely to be struck by lightning (5, Informative)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407496)

I probably AM more likely to be struck by lighting than hit by malicious code.

I wouldn't be so sure about that. This [noaa.gov] report says that the US has lightning injuries+fatalities of around 500 per year. That means the average person gets hit by lightning about once every 600,000 years.

The odds that somebody is going to develop a blockbuster zero-day exploit are much higher than that. For example, what if some person or organization discovers something like new flaws in both Cisco routers and the standard JPEG rendering .DLL or .so? And instead of posting it to security mailing lists, they write effective exploits to hijack the routers to serve up infected JPEGs?

Most of the computers on the Internet could be compromised within minutes just by ordinary browsing. No amount of patching, firewalls or care on the part of the user would prevent the attack. That is just one scenario; it's not hard to think up countless variations. It may be unlikely that this will happen in any given year, but I doubt that it would be as rare as once every 600K years.

Re:I AM more likely to be struck by lightning (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407576)

OK, it's clear that you're trying to do the right thing and for that I applaud your effect. Seriously - keep it up and encourage those around you to do the same.

However, you must be smoking crack. Are all of your apps secure against the recent JPG decoding vulnerabilities (because you "open" things you don't know about each and every time you view an image on the web)? Have you read the line-by-line security audit of your VPN software and have a reasonable belief that it's mathematically correct (because I see IPSEC patches coming by every now and then)? Is your SSH client immune to the attacking hosts? Is your router provably correct or does it have "features" such as diverting random outbound port 80 requests to its manufacturers website? Is that ActiveX control that your bank makes you used safe, and are you sure that your bank isn't sending out a compromised version? Do you monitor 1337 IRC channels to learn about exploits before your OS vendor has issued patches for them so that you can isolate the problems on your own?

You can't stop risks; you can merely work to reduce them. Even OpenBSD has had remote holes in the default installation, and those guys pay a lot more attention to the minute details than you or I are likely to. I'd say that the odds of getting pwn3d are several orders of magnitude higher than getting hit by lightning or beating the tax on people bad at math.

Headline Roulette (1, Insightful)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407257)

Anyone else wondering about the exact timing of this? It sure is handy to have a semi-scandal pop up just in time to gloss past the Prez's piss poor performance on the stage last night.

(Tinfoil cap, check.)

Re:Headline Roulette (0)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407365)

Which happened just in time to prevent anyone from noticing that the House Ethics Committee was a tad upset with Tom DeLay [npr.org] over his handling of the medicare vote last year.

Re:Headline Roulette (1, Insightful)

E-Rock (84950) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407395)

Yea... A guy no one's ever heard of quit his job because no one felt it was important, either in the government or in the public. That's certainly gonna trump any news about the debate.

Re:Headline Roulette (1)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407431)

Which is why it made it to Slashdot and the headlines, of course.

Re:Headline Roulette (1)

E-Rock (84950) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407500)

Yea, and this is news for who?
Quick check shows no blurb on the BBC, Fox News has it way down on the page, nothing on CNN, nothing from MSNBC either.
There's plenty of evil shit out there to worry about, but this is your conspiracy of the day?

Re:Headline Roulette (1)

mr_z_beeblebrox (591077) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407513)

It sure is handy to have a semi-scandal pop up just in time to gloss past the Prez's piss poor performance on the stage last night.

I do not think highly of george, however I do not think that he is THAT dumb.
"God, I really screwed the pooch last night. I know, I will have the cybersecurity guy resign in frustration that the nation is no better off now than four years ago. That'll help."
Nope, not even W could be that dumb.

So symptomatic of all politics (4, Interesting)

FunWithHeadlines (644929) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407258)

Please note, this is a rant that is not directed at one political party of the other, for both do it. But since the Bush team is in power, they will have to do as an example of what I mean.

All politics is about power, the obtaining of it and the maintaining and expanding it. The focus when running for office is to say and promise whatever it takes to get you into office. Once there, the focus becomes hanging on to power at all costs. The way to do that is to play on voter's fears, desires, insecurities, in such a way as to get them to think you will solve their problems better than the next guy. Thereby saving your job.

This is true no matter the topic, and no matter the importance of the topic. Right now, Topic A is security, and boy is that a vital topic. So vital, you'd think politicians would put their usual partisan techniques and actually get something done. But no, even here with lives at stake, it's politics as usual. Is computer security a hot-button issue for the average voter? Not enough to throw someone out of office over. So does this get priority? Nope.

Look at the vulnerability of chemical plants to attacks. There were proposals to beef up security, the chemical industry squawked at the costs, the plan got scaled back. Why? Isn't security important? Sure, just ask Union Carbide about Bhopal. More importantly, ask thousands of Indians about Union Carbide in Bhopal. It is important, but it's not attacting votes, so it gets shunted aside. That's all that matters, folks. It's about maintaining power. So no matter how many security czars they get, unless that becomes a hot-button issue for the voters, it'll never be a hot-button issue for the Bush White House (or any other president that comes along).

Re:So symptomatic of all politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10407286)

All politics is about power, the obtaining of it and the maintaining and expanding it

Ever heard of Mahatma Gandhi?

Re:So symptomatic of all politics (1)

FunWithHeadlines (644929) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407326)

Ever heard of Mahatma Gandhi?

Yes, I have. What do I win?

Re:So symptomatic of all politics (1)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407336)

Well airline security wasn't really an issue before Al-Queda's sightseeing tour of New York and DC, either.

Cybersecurity isn't sexy because there isn't a body count. Terrorists strike an airliner, there are 100 souls. Terrorists strike a refinery, there might be a couple of workers and firemen. The real impact is sticker shock at the gas pump. Terrorists strike a bank computer, and people can't use their ATM cards. Computer security really doesn't rank up there.

As a geek I would like to think I'm saving the world. But we do have to have some perspective.

Re:So symptomatic of all politics (4, Insightful)

FunWithHeadlines (644929) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407556)

Yes, that is the point, really. They focus on whatever gets votes, and terrorism is the big topic at the moment for obvious and horrible reasons. Cybersecurity should also be focused on properly, but because it's considered a lesser priority we have one cybersecurity czar after another resigning.

"Well airline security wasn't really an issue before Al-Queda's sightseeing tour of New York and DC, either. "

One quibble about that sentence: Airline security became an issue in the early 70s when hijacking came in vogue. All those security checks and rules are used to at the airport? Didn't exist back in the 60s and earlier. The hijackers would do something like smuggle a gun on board, and they would react by installing metal detectors. Then the hijackers would ratchet up the ante, and the security people would add a new check. Finally, security became fairly good at airports, such that hijacking went down in frequency. So the people who might have tried hijacking now tried, say, putting bombs on board, and the escalation of cat-and-mouse moved in a new direction.

It is a sad irony that people became trained to sit quietly during a hijacking since that was the best way to ensure your safety: wait it out until it was over and you'd be fine. The 9/11 hijackers used that psychology to their advantage. But that advantage is forever gone, for never again will passengers sit quietly by waiting for it to be over. That fact is how I know there will not be another 9/11 incident of the type we saw that horrible day. Instead, terrorists will try something entirely new. Something to think about as you wait in that endless line at the airport, realizing that they are busy chasing yesterday's terrorists, and probably haven't a clue what tomorrow's terrorists might dream up. Depressing thought, but probably realistic, given the history of airport security for the past forty years.

Cyber security needs to be tied into defense (2, Interesting)

Gary Destruction (683101) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407259)

Defending your country includes domestic and foreign defense both off and online. The fact that the military and various government agencies use the Internet is justification for including cyber security as part of defense. Cyber security should be part of the DoD's job.

Re:Cyber security needs to be tied into defense (1)

baby_head_rush (131448) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407470)

Yeah, the Army really needs more to do.

Next, they'll be in charge of taking toll money on interstates.

Re:Cyber security needs to be tied into defense (1)

Rocky1138 (758394) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407581)

Can you just imagine the flack we'd see posted on slashdot if this were to happen? Conspiracy theorists and privacy freaks would have a fit!

Lottery eh... (1)

TachyonAT (739931) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407279)

Damn... sounds like I need to start playing the lottery then...

Taking it lightly (5, Insightful)

jdavidb (449077) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407280)

In a possibly related story, individuals take cybersecurity lightly

To be honest, maybe it's hard to take seriously because we're busy trying to distort its meaning and importance with silly buzzwords like "cybersecurity." Why does everything have to be "cyber"-this and "cyber"-that? In my mind this doesn't sound any different than putting e- in front of everything and trying to market it during the dot-bomb bubble, and I imagine that it has a similar effect on the public. We've been conditioned since 1998 to ignore anything with e- or cyber- as a prefix. Why are we surpised that people don't take "cybersecurity" seriously, when we show by our vocabulary that we don't, either?

Instead of "cybersecurity," how about "computer security," or "personal computer security"? See, it's possible to communicate what you mean in a simple, effective way without fancy buzzwords, and people might even pay more attention. ("You mean my computer might be in danger?")

Re:Taking it lightly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10407422)

Finally, the first post in this thread that was actually worth reading...come on you acid tripping mods...give this guy a 5.

Security is a hard job (5, Insightful)

GodBlessTexas (737029) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407284)

Just getting people to pay attention in a corporate environment is hard enough, even with HIPAA and now Sarbanes-Oxley. Hell, if it weren't for Sarbanes-Oxley my company wouldn't even give a damn about security. That's sad, and frightening.

I can only imagine the nightmare it must be trying to be in charge of security in a beauracracy like the federal government. If you've never dealt with the feds as an employee or contractor, you have no idea how many layers thick it goes. You can't even fart without pushing paperwork and dealing with red tape.

my lucky day (3, Funny)

maxchaote (796339) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407291)

More than a third of the 493 PC users surveyed by the nonprofit National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) said they had a greater chance of winning the lottery or being struck by lightning than of being hit by malicious code.

Time to go buy a ticket...

"an organizational inability to do his job" (4, Insightful)

ARRRLovin (807926) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407299)

Sounds like he feels he was being setup to fail. That or they have the department wrapped so tightly with red tape that it makes the department ineffective. As most effective CIO/information directors will tell you, they're not interested in maintaining anything. They want to innovate and if you make that impossible or do not require innovation, they will leave.

Re:"an organizational inability to do his job" (2, Informative)

YouHaveSnail (202852) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407448)

Sounds like he feels he was being setup to fail.

Or perhaps he felt that there are a lot of issues to be concerned about, but nobody in the administration wanted to consider them. Maybe it's the same thing. If I recall, that was essentially Richard Clarke's beef. According to Clarke, he kept telling the administration that this terrorism stuff was serious, but his superiors didn't want to hear it, didn't want to have to do anything about it.

Well no wonder he quit! (-1, Offtopic)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407307)

Amit Yoran, a former software executive from Symantec Corp., informed the White House about his plans to quit as director of the National Cyber Security Division

Amit? Shouldn't the default firewall configuration be deny?

Ba dump bump! Thanks, I'll be here all week. Try the veal.

being "hit" (3, Funny)

justforaday (560408) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407319)

More than a third of the 493 PC users surveyed...said they had a greater chance of winning the lottery or being struck by lightning than of being hit by malicious code.

It should be noted that these people are probably thinking of being "hit" in the physical sense of the word...

Hmm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10407323)

Senior department officials consider equally important the protection of the nation's physical structures, such as bridges and buildings, and computer networks, which regulate the flow of electricity, phone calls, finances and other information. They maintain that gauging risks to physical structures and computers separately is inefficient and expensive because common problems threaten both.

I'm not sure that I agree with this view. Sure there are *some* common problems but there are more threats that differ than not.

Haha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10407328)

Like all rats, they are jumping ship before the proverbial boat sinks!

The political bottleneck (2, Interesting)

hawklord (305516) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407343)

It can be very frustrating to someone who just wants to accomplish something when politics prevent it from happening.

Good. (5, Insightful)

Exmet Paff Daxx (535601) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407345)

Hopefully the hydra will not spring forth another head to take its place. The question we need to ask ourselves here is: should the government even be involving itself in "regulating the Internet" to "improve security"? Considering the free market has a better track record at accomplishing nearly everything (compare the DMV to 7-11) why the hell do we need a useless figurehead like this in the first place? He's ex-Microsoft for God's sake.

If the government actually wanted to promote cyber security, the best way to do it would be to put a bounty system on the evildoers and let the market compete to catch them. Microsoft but a bounty on some virus authors and look how fast they were caught! Imagine if we had a bounty on web defacers, worm authors, and other such vermin. System administrators worldwide have the legal right to read their customers mail but until no profit motive, so they don't do it. All that would change. You think 802.11 wardrivers can't be caught? What if information leading to their arrest was worth $50,000 - how many Slashdot readers would be patrolling their neighborhood for wardrivers? It's not too hard to spot the goon with the notebook and the high power 802.11 antenna connecting to every network in his path.

Personally I'd love to put "Internet Bounty Hunter" on my resume. I'd probably start with the goon at 66.35.250.150 who keeps proxy scanning me.

Re:Good. (3, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407509)

Wait, what? What does ex-Microsoft have to do with anything? They hire some very talented people. Just because I abhor their corporate policies and marketing doesn't mean that the people who work for them can't have any good points.
As for the wardriving thing... that's stupid. It's the same thing that got MS to the position it's in today. Why not have official wardrivers that find vulnerable AP's and then go knock on doors, telling people to get them fixed? Hit the root of the problem. Increase the barrier of entry for "hackers", the typical script kiddie crap, and 99% of the problem will go away. But just like any crime, you can't get rid of it completely. There will always be people trying to take advantage of others.

Re:Good. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10407527)

Since when has the markets ever been "free"?

Monopolies are against free market. Cartels are against free market. Centralization of power to the hands of the few big companies is against free market, since those companies can use their scale to work against any competition, thus destroying the so-called "free market".

The free markets existed maybe in the 1800s, if even then.

Things which are more likely to happen... (2, Interesting)

26199 (577806) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407369)

...than winning the lottery: well, you're about 250 times more likely to be involved in a car accident than to win the lottery. And about 10 times more likely to be murdered.

(That's over a whole year, assuming you buy a ticket every week).

Virtually everything is more likely than winning the lottery. Their poll just shows that people don't really understand probability... (hmm. You're also more likely to be hit by lightning than to win the lottery.)

Re:Things which are more likely to happen... (3, Interesting)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407494)

I propose a new measure of probability: the Franklin. One Franklin is the probability of being hit by lightning per unit time. (Kites and thunderstorms not withstanding.)

The real solution (4, Funny)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407371)

They should outsource this National Cyber Security job to India.

God spoke to me:
www.geocities.com/James_Sager_PA

Bruce Schneier (2, Insightful)

mboedick (543717) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407390)

Bruce Schneier [schneier.com] should have this job. As a matter of fact he should be Secretary of Homeland Security.

A simple way to think about security (5, Insightful)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407399)

Imagine someone walks up to you and starts talking to you about your car insurance:

"Well, here's the thing. Your car needs to be safe, and since 1997, with more highways available, more ISEC 45 systems can't accomodate Goodyear telecons. Car insurances? In your glove box, you can find your insurance info several tachometers. Make sure to astagate the TFGG Nationwide proteases for the next fifteen days, and then every fifteen days -- dirkonite 1997 malfunctions could lead to superfinite hexagon and then your gas mileage Liberty Mutual goes down. But the car is fine, it's a good car. It's going to explode and your dog will die. Just call the state RT-678 system box accelerator engine spark plug twice, after frubbing the seats and air conditioner. So, yes, Ford and Honda are a risk, but you have filters, GM just needs shafts -- in Japan."

That's basically what the average person hears when you start talking about computer security. They seem to understand some terms, but for the most part their eyes glaze over. Then they say "OK" and go back to looking on eBay for that autographed baseball. Even running Ad-Aware is a pain for most people. There's about 20 different options and if they click the wrong one they don't know what just happenned.

Re:A simple way to think about security (2, Insightful)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407466)

I've just come to accept that I'm a modern day car-mechanic.

Most people have the samed glazed look when you try to talk to them about how riding the brakes leads to premature wear, why accellerating to 40mph between stop signs kills gas milage, why changing the oil is important, and the relative merit of heading blinking red lights on the instrument panel.

NCSA? (1)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407421)

NCSA? Surely not the same guys at U of Illinois that created Mosaic?

Re:NCSA? (1)

YouHaveSnail (202852) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407519)

No, not that NCSA. The one in Illinois is the "National Center for Supercomputing Applications." The one referenced above is the "National Cyber Security Alliance."

Not sure why 'cyber,' which is usually a prefix, has become an entire word there. Maybe they felt that hyphenation is for sissies. Maybe they figured it'd be easier to get a budget through Congress if they stole a well-liked organization's moniker.

First!? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10407442)

diseases. The to use tHe GNAA

Business as usual (2, Informative)

samberdoo (812366) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407453)

*political rant* An administration that has lied so many times it doesn't even know the truth, doesn't need security. Seriously though most of the leading edge work on cyber security and detection is being done by the gov't or under gov't supervision.

so what OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10407463)

More than a third of the 493 PC users surveyed by the nonprofit National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) said they had a greater chance of winning the lottery or being struck by lightning than of being hit by malicious code.

So, does that mean that more then a third of the people surveyed don't run Windows?

Odd differences in media representation (4, Insightful)

j_stirk (570135) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407486)

Really, same old - does ANYONE (I exclude the obvious hardcore security concious techies out there from this, obviously) take cybersecurity seriously? Companies dont. Home users dont. Hell, there are even Sys Admins out there that think security is just disabling the FTP server!

What I find odd though, is the differences in the way the media shows cybersecurity. Although it's been quite common in the media lately - movies (too numerous to bother counting - you know them anyway), news releases on viruses, phishing, etc. all have had (at least in Australia) an increase of media exposure in recent times. There's a lot of very serious attention out there to this issue, but it's not working!

People see a movie that examines cybersecurity, which may be discussing a real issue in the same way every other mainstream movie does (ie. somewhat realistic... Willing suspension of disbelief and all that). What I don't understand though is that movies about other topics make people stop and look at the bigger issue being discussed. People watch a war movie and go "oh hay, war is bad/good/hell". People watch a horror flic and go "oh hay, i'm going to buy me an axe and board my doors up to keep those psychos out". People watch a "cybersecurity" movie (or even news) and go "hah, it'll never happen to me - I know everything about my computer!".

Until we fix this problem, and get across to the public (and hence Governments) that this IS a major issue (and that it isn't going away), the problem is just going to get worse.

I guess part of the problem is the fact that the topics are usually quite abstract. Often, you can't explain how or even WHY these things happen without getting into some fairly abstract details. What do you mean people can talk to my computer? But it's listening to multiple things at once? And some might be good? But why would they want to use my computer to talk to websites?

AAAaaarrrrghhh....

Regardless, something needs to be done, as this is an all to common event.

I'll be happy to do the job. (0, Offtopic)

rmy1 (815018) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407489)

...now where's my Gentoo 2004.2 install disk?

These guys gotta toughen up! (2, Interesting)

bitslinger_42 (598584) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407493)

Granted, its not like I'm in a highly-influential government job, but I do work in Computer Security. As a low-level grunt with delusions of grandure, I can certainly understand the feelings of frustration, particularly when people don't do the right thing (i.e. what I tell them to). Maybe those of us in the trenches just have the clarity to realize that the job is hard, there are no quick fixes, and trying to convince people who bought their computer the same way they bought their toaster is a really, REALLY hard job.

On the other hand, I've been doing this for 8 years, 7 years at my present company. Maybe the Baby Bush should hire me, since I'm not such a candy-ass :-)

Joe Average (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10407501)

More than a third of the 493 PC users surveyed by the nonprofit National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) said they had a greater chance of winning the lottery or being struck by lightning than of being hit by malicious code.
Which is probably just as indicative of Joe Average having a poor understanding of probability theory as of a failure to grasp cyber security issues

Unprofessional (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10407525)

"Amit Yoran, a former software executive from Symantec Corp., informed the White House about his plans to quit as director of the National Cyber Security Division and made his resignation effective at the end of Thursday, effectively giving a single's day notice of his intentions to leave."
  • He either doesn't give a damn about national cybersecurity, or he doesn't think his job was important enough to maintain. Even if he objects with the administration's policies ... it's HIGHLY unprofessional of him to leave his job with no notice.

what a mess (1)

OklaKid (552472) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407570)

since the govt. dropped the ball in the msft antitrust case letting msft run unfetted with the release of xp i am suprised anyone took this job, cyber security is a joke with xp being marketed like it is for home and office and all its security issues xp has since it was released

where do you want to crash today

Well... (2, Insightful)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407572)

If a story were to come out that Amit say wanted to implement more DMCA-like restrictions on the Internet and was frustrated because the administration wouldn't let him we'd all have a different attitude. But since this guy quit the BUSH administration, he obviously was suffering in his job trying to do right by all Americans and was being squashed by the man. The fact that he gave effectively 1 day's notice points to a character problem. What's the over and under he starts popping up on talk shows and campaign stops with "a revealing look into the Bush administration" soon?

I didn't realize (1)

TheMediaWrangler (817300) | more than 9 years ago | (#10407583)

that lightning had become so bad!
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