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Reverse Hacker Awarded $4.3 Million

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the now-i-want-to-be-a-reverse-hacker dept.

Security 171

jcatcw writes "Shawn Carpenter was awarded a $4.3 million award — more than twice the amount he sought and money he thinks he'll never see. Carpenter worked for Sandia National Labs as an intrusion detection analyst. He anayzed. He detected. He reported. He was fired — in Janurary 2005 after sharing his results with the FBI and the U.S. Army. Computerworld asked him what he hoped to achieve in that investigation. Answer: 'In late May of 2004, one of my investigations turned up a large cache of stolen sensitive documents hidden on a server in South Korea. In addition to U.S. military information, there were hundreds of pages of detailed schematics and project information marked 'Lockheed Martin Proprietary Information — Export Controlled' that were associated with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. ... It was a case of putting the interests of the corporation over those of the country.' Ira Winkler, author of Spies Among Us , said the verdict was 'incredibly justified. Frankly, I think people [at Sandia] should go to jail' for ignoring some of the security issues that Carpenter was trying to highlight with his investigation."

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171 comments

Gray and pointless. (5, Interesting)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166648)

What he did was arguably in a gray area...on his own time, he used "hacker techniques" (not my preferred wording, sorry. Read the article.) to track down stolen data on foreign sites. That he turned his results over to the FBI is good, even if it screwed over Sandia.

Of course, the judgement against Sandia will get passed on to the US Government in a "cost plus" contract...

Re:Gray and pointless. (5, Insightful)

tha_mink (518151) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166748)

What he did was arguably in a gray area...on his own time, he used "hacker techniques" (not my preferred wording, sorry. Read the article.) to track down stolen data on foreign sites. That he turned his results over to the FBI is good, even if it screwed over Sandia.
Yeah, and how is that "Reverse Hacking"? Isn't that just "hacking"? (ok cracking or whatever) It's like when people say that someone is a "reverse racist". You're either racist or you're not. I didn't think that kind of thing works in a direction.

Re:Gray and pointless. (5, Funny)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166958)

It's like when people say that someone is a "reverse racist".
The word you're looking for is "affirmative actor"...

Re:Gray and pointless. (1, Insightful)

crush (19364) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167006)

Do we have any confidence that this cracker or his associates in the FBI and Army are not part of some retarded counter-intelligence plot to manufacture tension between the US and China? I realise that this sounds like conspiracy nut ranting, but given the complete lack of information available to any member of the public all we have are unsupportable conspiracy theories with partial information leaked to us by spooks. I have no confidence that the jury was privy to the sort of sensitive intelligence which would allow them to determine whether this was some sort of false-flag operation by the FBI.

The only thing that we're certain of is that Shawn Carpenter is clearly shown to have disregarded the straightforward and honest rules of his workplace. People do all sorts of dishonest deeds under the cloak of "patriotism" and the only incontrovertible evidence is that this dude is a cracker.

Re:Gray and pointless. (2, Interesting)

crush (19364) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167238)

Added to which, it seems that Mr.Carpenter and his wife are beneficiaries of the "new security regime" with him landing a plum post with the neocon's new "Dept of Homeland Security" and his wife now a White House fellow working as a special assistant to top-ranking government officials.

Take note too of the special attention paid to the fact that Bruce Held [Sandia's chief of counterintelligence]. was a CIA officer, and remember that the CIA and all the associated apparatus of oldboys are under attack from the neocons because they wouldn't suppport the Bush administration's contention that Iraq had WMDs.

I smell a big stinky rat that just popped out of the sewer with this story. I can't help remembering the Wen Ho Lee [wikipedia.org] story which waved the flag of patriotism to persecute a "foreigner" and think that if the USA is worried about foreigners stealing information then they should look to the Israelis [counterpunch.org]

At best this is an unclear story, at worst it's a move by the neocons to ratchet up tension against China. Probably it's a way at having a go at some non-neocon security establishment likely loyal to the Democrats.

Re:Gray and pointless. (1, Flamebait)

operagost (62405) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167760)

Is there a Slashdot setting to mod all posts containing the word "neocon" to -6?

Re:Gray and pointless. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18168588)

It's right next to the one to mod all posts _by_ neocons to -6.

Re:Gray and pointless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18167910)

Of course, I should have known: it's all a plot by the nefarious NEOCONS! :tinfoil:

Re:Gray and pointless. (5, Insightful)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167810)

Well, let's go on the premise that this was an honest situation and not some nutty cooked up idea to lead the american people into another foolish military adventure.

This is what we know.
1. This guy found an intrusion on his network, which because he was their network guy he was being employed to do.
2. He informed his employer that sensitive data was being stolen.
3. His employers did nothing because they're incompetent nitwits.
4. He, being a good American did what he was supposed to do and tracked down the people who stole the secrets and reported it to the FBI.
5. His bosses, now with egg all over their faces, fired him because he showed they were in fact incompetent nitwits.

Now beyond that, the whole lawsuit thing is frivilous. If I were this guy I would have walked into my congressmans office and started the conversation with, "Wanna hear how a goverment agency that gets billions of dollars of taxpayers money is letting its secrets get stolen?" I would then sit back and let the shit storm begin.

As for the dishonest deeds, I think it started with the people who were breaking into american computer systems and stealing the data.

Though I've always asked this question: If I was running a labratory that was working on some cutting edge military technology, why would I have any of the labs computers connected to the Internet???? Setup a secure isolated network and call it a deal!

Re:Gray and pointless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18168078)

Well, let's go on the premise that this was an honest situation Agreed. End of discussion. There is absolutely no need to assume that this is anything underhand. American intelligence agencies have never engaged in activities such as planting information. Shawn Carpenter is a patriot and anyone who suggests otherwise is a traitor and a a conspiracy fanatic. We know all the details of this case and thus have complete oversight.

Re:Gray and pointless. (5, Funny)

Nykon (304003) | more than 7 years ago | (#18168218)

"If I was running a labratory that was working on some cutting edge military technology, why would I have any of the labs computers connected to the Internet????"

Umm hellllo. How do you expect the scientists to check their myspace?? ;-)

Re:Gray and pointless. - no.. you need to hack-gee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18167564)

Hmm.. I wrote a script that logs all the brute force hack attempts to my server, I get the ip address from the attempted
connection and throw it in my /etc/hosts.deny file. Then... at night I unleash my attack scripts against those ip addresses.
It's fun. Most of them are attempts from Asia. Those attempts are sent to the perps ISP. If there are any other attempts (I block anyway but I see the denied entries in my log) I will hack into their system, gather info about them, and then take that system out.
how do you think you improve on security? And the best way to get into the system is exploiting tcp.

Re:Gray and pointless. - no.. you need to hack-gee (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18168258)

That's nothing. If anyone even thinks about my IP in their browser, I hack into their mind with my leet ESP skillz and take thier mind out. Then I find out where the live, and go there and kick their puppy if they have one. Then, if they ever think about my IP address again I just kill them with my arsenal of atomic warheads I bought from Saddam over TCP.

Re:Gray and pointless. (3, Interesting)

EngMedic (604629) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167144)

Gray and pointless? Tell that to Cliff Stoll. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cliff_Stoll [wikipedia.org]

Re:Gray and pointless. (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167338)

I read that book years ago. Cliff Stoll's investigation led to the capture and trial of German spies. Once this guy turned his data over to the FBI, the investigation went nowhere.

Re:Gray and pointless. (1, Informative)

EngMedic (604629) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167426)

I read that book years ago. Cliff Stoll's investigation led to the capture and trial of German spies. Once this guy turned his data over to the FBI, the investigation went nowhere.
Yeah. So did Cliff's. He had to keep beating them into doing something about it for months on end. I suspect this guy would've done the same if his bosses hadn't fired him.

Re:Gray and pointless. (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167558)

One other thing...Cliff worked largely by observing. Piping tty data to a printer isn't what I would call "hacking".

Re:Gray and pointless. (1)

crush (19364) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167596)

IIRC Clifford Stoll maintained contact with his managers about what he was doing. He was not forbidden to continue a particular line of enquiry. That seems very different from this case.

Re:Gray and pointless. (1)

Jinjuku (762364) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167268)

How would you suggest someone combat hackers? Send them a card and chocolates? He didn't screw over Sandia Labs. Sandia Labs screwed over Sandia Labs. Mr. Carpenter just happened to be the vehicle of choice to drive over the cliffs' edge with.

Re:Gray and pointless. (1)

rickygarg (1069220) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167666)

That certainly gives motivation to people who love being security analysts for their own satisfaction. Bureaucracy might not always be allow you the wings to do things you have a potential towards. IS Review [wordpress.com]

Funny, that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18168046)

It is passing strange how when salaried employees do something the corporation wants done after hours it is of course part of their work, that's why they get salary instead of hourly pay, but when they do what they should do and the company doesn't like it, well then that was not work-related.
Both may, but one must be wrong. Aren't you tired of some privileged entities in our society having everything both ways as they wish it when they wish it, and the rest of us unable to even have the laws of the nation enforced when they are favorable to our positions?
This is no longer even remotely a "nation of laws". Welcome to the banana republic. Thanks for making it possible, toadies.

Re:Funny, that (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 7 years ago | (#18168600)

They can claim whatever they want, but according to the law it has to deal with "scope of employment", not whether they say you were "working" or not at the time.

You can look up the term of google, but here is the definition from law.com.

"scope of employment n. actions of an employee which further the business of the employer and are not personal business, which becomes the test as to whether an employer is liable for damages due to such actions under the doctrine of respondent superior (make the master answer). Example: Dick Deliver drives a truck delivering groceries for Super-Duper Market. If Dick negligently runs the truck into Victor Victim's VW while making deliveries or on the way back from a delivery, then Super-Duper is liable since the accident was in the scope of employment. If Dick goes outside the delivery route to have lunch with his girlfriend and on the way hits Victim then there is a strong inference he was outside the scope of employment."

That's wrong (1)

pohones (1067460) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166660)


If it's "reverse" then he should pay $4.3 Million to hack.

Poetic Justice (0)

Neme$y$ (700253) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166662)

Yeah, now he's laughing all the way to the bank

May I be the first to... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18166666)

Welcome our well-recompensed, but under-worked overlord...?!!

Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (5, Interesting)

Fried-Psitalon (929587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166702)

....the fact that a corporation was holding its own interests over that of its founding nation?

I mean, hey, great - I'm really glad this guy got the compensation very much due him. What worries me more is that the article didn't read "Corporation ignores serious national security concerns because there was no obvious profit."

I always wonder... do businesses really think they're immune to the affairs of their "mother country?" I'm quite sure any corporation that sees most of its factories razed would find their bottom line hit pretty hard.

Granted, I'm a teacher by trade, and I don't have that same mindset... but even as a human being, I'm going to tend to the security of the nation that keeps carbombs off my streets before I tend to the profits of fat-cat, tax-dodging boss.

Patriotism isn't an archaic concept; it's a survivalist one.

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (4, Interesting)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166738)

I always wonder... do businesses really think they're immune to the affairs of their "mother country?" I'm quite sure any corporation that sees most of its factories razed would find their bottom line hit pretty hard.

I'm sure at least some businesses don't recognize a "mother country." How would you constrain Sony, for example, which has factories all over Asia and North America? Or cruise lines, which do most of their business in the United States but are registered in the Cayman Islands for tax shelter purposes?

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18166964)

Or cruise lines, which do most of their business in the United States

Wow, we can take cruises inside the United States now?!

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (1)

mikael (484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167068)

You can take river cruises in the USA; an eight day cruise along the Hudson River, seven days along the Alaska passage, seven days along the Columbia river and many others...

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (1)

Raistlin77 (754120) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167168)

That hardly accounts for "most" of cruise lines business, and I also highly doubt that those cruise lines you mention are registered in the Caymans.

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167226)

And if we really want to be pedantic, you could take a New York - Puerto Rico - Virgin Islands cruise.

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167304)

Or cruise lines, which do most of their business in the United States but are registered in the Cayman Islands for tax shelter purposes?

Cruise lines are great examples because their ship's registries are pretty much always outside the US - it's cheaper and it doesn't give the US military etc the right to board your ship in international waters (sure, they can do it anyway, but they're probably less likely.)

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167676)

Nothing to do with that. They do not care about boarding. Now being requisitioned and having to carry troops into the war zone is another story. Can't blame them actually. Cunard has had at least one liner sunk in the last 60 years with the loss of 6000+ lives and a countless number of near misses after being requisitioned by HMG in every major (and many minor) conflict since WW1.

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (1)

ubuwalker31 (1009137) | more than 7 years ago | (#18168680)

First of all, Sony is a Japanese Corporation. And if you for a second don't think that the people who work for Sony aren't Japanese nationalists, I think you'd be mistaken.

As to how do you constrain a corporation, its fairly easy. If your the government, you revoke its authority to *be* a corporation, seize all of its assets in your borders, and prevent it from doing business without your permission. (A la Hugo Chavez nationalizing utilities)

problems for a corporation-mindset (3, Interesting)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166794)

let me give you my gut level response about what you've missed in a corporate level mindset. (bugs, bugs, they're crawling all over me now)

any end scenario that equates with annihalation/extinction of the company is not worth considering or planning for.

on a scale of 1-10, (1 being some hourly wage earner is caught taking 40$ from the till) a 5-8 embarrasement bad pr episode (security leak, court judgement, contracts broken) is a whole lot worse for the company than a 10 extinction, because at 100% corporation extinction/cessation of manufacturing, there is no one left to point fingers (other than history) in the internal squabbles.... a mid level manager would rather the company declare banktrupcy than one of his subs become a series of internal memos cc'd to legal...

Re:problems for a corporation-mindset (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166876)

Actually, GAAP, the core rules by which American public business accounting must operate, specifies that one treat a corporation as a "Going concern," meaning that one must assume the corporation will continue to be in business indefinitely.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if that assumption became embedded in the executive mindset.

(IANA CPA, but that's the next direction I want to go...)

ok.. (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167000)

so it's codified..



You can't consider enemy invader warplanes bombing your factories out of existence, even if through your companies actions, or inaction.

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (5, Interesting)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166800)

(Note: My brother's a submariner in the US Navy.)

It's nothing new. When the US Navy put the contract to develop a new screw(propellor) for US submarines, the specifications made it virtually silent. One company went so far as to build the machine to build the screw, but ended up not getting the contract. Rather than write the whole thing off, they sold the machine to the Chinese.

Long story short, Chinese subs are now just about as quiet as American subs.

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (4, Interesting)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167026)

they sold the machine to the Chinese.
"A capitalist will sell you the rope you will hang him with if he can make profit on it." - Lenin

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (5, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167288)

Someone really should try to implement his ideas on a country-wide scale.

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (5, Funny)

mblase (200735) | more than 7 years ago | (#18168012)

"A capitalist will sell you the rope you will hang him with if he can make profit on it." - Lenin

"I'm sorry, but the knot you're tying in that noose is copyrighted and patented by my corporation, and in any event the end user license specifically forbids using it to hang their employees or those of organizations doing business with them. I have a cease-and-desist order right here, and I'm afraid I'll need to ask for the names, addresses, phone numbers, and social security numbers of all your executioners past and present to ensure they're not in violation of our intellectual property."

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (1)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167284)

Was the propeller actually DESIGNED by the Navy, and then the contract to build it put out to bid? Or was it the case that the Navy just had an idea, made up the specifications, and asked contractors to see what they could come up with?

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167448)

I don't know.

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18167764)

I'll give you a hint: it wasn't designed by the Navy. Unless everyone in that particular company is in jail, that is. Export control restrictions are pretty steep, especially regarding a country like that. I actually have a hard time believing that story to begin with.

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18167530)

Note: Having a brother that does something doesn't mean you know anything about it.

I'll give you a clue that anyone who has watched the Red October should know, the primary source for noise on submarines is the engine, pumps and other machinery. Sure, the hull, propeller and what not can make noise - but you would have to be at significant speeds with an engine running fast enough to maintain them.

In the movie, they said Red October used a magnetohydrodynamic drive - an engine with only electric and magnetic fields with no moving parts. Even then, the engine still made sounds, which were used to track the sub. Further, we can extend the argument to a diesel/electric sub (a technology that has been in operation since World War I) when running on electric is pretty silent and difficult to detect using passive sonar. Of course, diesel/electric subs are limited by the life of their battieres, just like computers.

All of which simply is a discussion of passive sonar. On the other end, it doesn't matter how quiet you are running if you are dealing with active sonar - which if you are an attack sub you will be.

Anyway, long story short, there are many factors that come into play that determine whether a sub can operate without being detected - anything from the quality of satellite intelligence to how the toilet flushes. A propeller is only one small factor, among many.

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167648)

I'll give you a clue that anyone who has watched the Red October should know, the primary source for noise on submarines is the engine, pumps and other machinery. Sure, the hull, propeller and what not can make noise - but you would have to be at significant speeds with an engine running fast enough to maintain them.
Bull. ;-)

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18168410)

I agree but the screw is one of the most noise producing items in a submarine. Sonar techs can track screws for a far greater distance then just about any normal noise a submarine could possibly make. A submairne also has a sound "signature" as it moves through the mater and the screw is the largest input to that signature.
Of course, our sonar techs tracked a "russian troller" for a few hours. When we came to periscope depth, the officer of the deck said he saw a US Destroyer class ship. I've also heard rumors that our sonar guys tracked a seven bladed US nuclear sub for almost an entire day and it turned out to be our own reflection. I was not a sonar tech myself so these may be bad rumors but I do know that the non missle subs were rumored to have better sonar techs then we did. I was on a boomer going 5 knots to nowhere making circles in the open ocean for months at a time, hear something and hide and rarely see a foreign port, "41 for freedom baby!!".

As for the active? I only heard active sonar one time in my 10 year military career. We were moored to a bouy about 200 yards of the coast of St Croix and someone somewhere was using active the entire 5 days we were their. EXTREMELY ANNOYING. Day and night hearing those repetetive beeps about every 15 seconds.

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18167762)

yes, but are they as fast as Russian subs....?

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (1)

musterion (305824) | more than 7 years ago | (#18168058)

Just remember this when you buy Toshiba goods, as they were the ones (http://www.vanderbilt.edu/VIPPS/VIPPSUSJ/publicat ions/Toshiba%20Machine%20working%20paper.doc) and in this paper the tools were sold to the Soviets.

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (1)

hemp (36945) | more than 7 years ago | (#18169054)

That was Toshiba - for many years government contractors were careful not to use any Toshiba equipment less the get their contracts yanked.

The Senate voted to ban the import of Toshiba products for three years after this.

http://japanlaw.info/lawletter/april87/fdf.htm/ [japanlaw.info]

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (1)

noshellswill (598066) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166802)

No surprise here. NWO / Cosmopolitan globalists let in the woggs ... and citizen yeomanry pays the bill.

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (5, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166978)

I always wonder... do businesses really think they're immune to the affairs of their "mother country?"


Of course they do. Remember GM's cozy relationship with the Nazis. It's true once WW2 broke out that they didn't have direct control of operations in Germany, but leading up to WW2 they were quite aware that conflict was probable and that they'd be profiting by selling to both sides. Their chairman, Alfred Sloan, said that with respect to German factories, "We must conduct ourselves as a German organization."

For better or worse, we have set up corporations to reward simply any profitable behavior that is within the letter of the law. Or even close enough to get away with. We should not expect patriotic, or even moral behavior from them. Anybody who's ever been involved in a business ethics issue knows that the ultimate bottom line is whatever you can get away with. A committed person can get more from his coworkers and superiors, they are individuals after all and most of the time they usually have at least a common sense of decency that can be appealed to. But turn your back and you're right back to the bottom line.

This is especially insidious because people judge themselves, not against principles, but by how they compare to others. When other people are going along with something, there is a strong presumption that it must be OK. People will rationalize what they do to make it seem right, before they change what they do to conform to their own ideas of right, until eventually they lose sight of the difference between right and wrong. That's why good people end up doing bad things.

So we should not be shocked or suprised by this. This is the reason we have laws, and legal relief for unjust actions taken by corporations in their selfish financial interests. To force basic moral and civic responsiblity on organizations which are by design simple profit generating machines.

It's not shocking that corporations behave amorally. Nor is it punitive to reign them in when they use the special privileges they have been granted abusively. It's just realistic.

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (3, Insightful)

TCaptain (115352) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167632)

For better or worse, we have set up corporations to reward simply any profitable behavior that is within the letter of the law. Or even close enough to get away with.

Actually no, we didn't. Obeying the law is not a requirement for any corporation as the "fines" levied from breaking any laws is simply the cost of doing business. If the profit gained by an action outweighs the consequences of legal action, then any legal punishment in the form of fines is the cost of doing business and "good for the shareholders".

It's just a risk market. (4, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18168858)

Actually no, we didn't. Obeying the law is not a requirement for any corporation as the "fines" levied from breaking any laws is simply the cost of doing business. If the profit gained by an action outweighs the consequences of legal action, then any legal punishment in the form of fines is the cost of doing business and "good for the shareholders".

Bingo. I don't know why people get their panties in so much of a bunch over what corporations do. They're almost always utterly predictable. The only times when they aren't predictable, is when they're dominated by a particular personality, and then they tend to take on the irrationalisms (for better or worse) of the controlling person.

But most major corporations, run by boards of directors and their appointees, will do whatever is profitable based on the information and best-guess assessments that they have available. They will do this without regard to Law or really to Ethics, except insofar as those feed into the risk/benefit decisions.

I have no doubt that if the enforcement of laws against organ harvesting was lax enough, to the point where a person could expect to get away with it, corporations would probably get into that business, too. It's a straightforward calculation: what is the risk of getting caught, times the consequences of getting caught, and is that greater or less than the chances of succeeding, times the possible payout. If the latter exceeds the former, and it's greater than the opportunity cost, then the corporation does it. (And if they don't, someone else will. There's no such thing as universal ethics; you can always find somebody who'll "go there" regardless of how repugnant the opportunity for profit might be.)

You can look at an illegal act in the same way that an insurance company might approach a significant new risk: what are the odds of the insured-against action happening, and what would we have to pay out if that happened, so what should we charge in premiums? Except in the acting-illegally case, the "premiums" are what you'd need to expect you'd be able to get out of doing the illegal act, in order to make it, on average, worth doing.

So when you see a corporation dumping toxic waste, don't bother being surprised. Somebody, somewhere, did a calculation (either literally or figuratively), and decided that the potential gain of the dumping, even when the risk of getting caught was factored into it, was profitable.

As corporations get bigger and bigger, this is only going to become more apparent. If a major multinational corporation breaks some laws, it's probably not going to end the company. In the future, it could get to a point where they're so much bigger than governments, that no amount of illegal action would ever be 'fatal,' and thus they would follow the risk/benefit calculations even more closely, because they'd be able to more easily afford getting caught every once in a while (in the same way that a larger insurance company can sometimes offer lower premiums, because they're bigger and can absorb more risk).

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (1)

digitalgoddess (1051762) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167828)

textbook sociological assessment there. bravo

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167450)

....the fact that a corporation was holding its own interests over that of its founding nation?



Corporations are founded and owned by people, who first and foremost expect the corporation to make money.



"Corporation ignores serious national security concerns because there was no obvious profit."



Corporations will do anything they can get away with to pursue the goal specified above.



I always wonder... do businesses really think they're immune to the affairs of their "mother country?"



War or even just insecurity is good for business, especially if you develop and manufacture for the military and the country you're in has little to zero risk of ever getting bombed to rubble itself.

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167454)

I mean, hey, great - I'm really glad this guy got the compensation very much due him. What worries me more is that the article didn't read "Corporation ignores serious national security concerns because there was no obvious profit."

I always wonder... do businesses really think they're immune to the affairs of their "mother country?" I'm quite sure any corporation that sees most of its factories razed would find their bottom line hit pretty hard.


Um, I'm all for nationalism, but there is a part of me that believes a global multinational corporate controlled world would be better for most people. Why should the US get special treatment from companies? What if the companies started funding their own mercs and fought back? There has been fiction on that subject. It's good thing for our national governments that our corporations don't have merc wars against each other or some governments would be in deep trouble.

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18167678)

No corporation is a patriot. No corporation is a philanthropist. No corporation gives a shit about anything whatever except profit margins and market share.

Why do you think Bill Gates wants more H1-B visas? Because he's a patriot? No, more H1-B visas screws Americans over. NAFTA screws Canadians, Americans, and Mexicans over while enriching the corporations who bought this legislation from these three countries.

Sony does not care about Japan. Dahmler wouldn't mind if every German in the country became penniless tomorrow so long as its profit margin remained.

In fact, corporations don't even care about mankind or the planet itself. Too bad they run all the world's governments (yours included).

If you don't understand this, you are incredibly naive. If you know of a way of getting our so-called democratic governments back from these evil entities, please let us know.

Thanks.
-mankind

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (1)

kmweber (196563) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167816)

....the fact that a corporation was holding its own interests over that of its founding nation?

I mean, hey, great - I'm really glad this guy got the compensation very much due him. What worries me more is that the article didn't read "Corporation ignores serious national security concerns because there was no obvious profit."

I always wonder... do businesses really think they're immune to the affairs of their "mother country?" I'm quite sure any corporation that sees most of its factories razed would find their bottom line hit pretty hard.

That's their decision to make. You see, as the eminent 20th-century Russian-American philosopher Ayn Rand proved, the individual properly has no obligation to "society" or the state or the "collective" but only to his own rational self-interest. If they deem their actions to be in their own rational self-interest, not only do they have every right to pursue them, but they are morally obligated to do so.

The selfish pursuit of private profit is the most moral act there is.

Patriotism isn't an archaic concept; it's a survivalist one.

The United States isn't a government; it's a principle--that principle being individualism. When our government acts against that principle, the patriotic thing to do is oppose it.

only if you assume your conclusions... (1)

feepcreature (623518) | more than 7 years ago | (#18169134)

How do you "prove" an assertion about what "ought" to happen?

Take the statement:

as the eminent 20th-century Russian-American philosopher Ayn Rand proved, the individual properly has no obligation to "society" or the state or the "collective" but only to his own rational self-interest. If they deem their actions to be in their own rational self-interest, not only do they have every right to pursue them, but they are morally obligated to do so.

You can only prove that if you start with a system of more basic beliefs about the way things ought to be - and if those starting points can lead logically to the desired conclusion.

"Might makes right" and "you should 'love your neighbour as yourself'" are not propositions which can be proved - they are assumptions about how we ought to behave.

Similarly, kmweber's twin assertions that the USA is all about individualism and that people should oppose any acts that counter such "individualism" are just that - axioms chosen to justify a desired conclusion. You could equally well assume that the USA is about a balance of individual freedom and respect for other citizens' rights. Or that one is quite justified in opposing what the USA (or any state) is "about", if it is "wrong" or "harmful to the people" or "bad for the environment" or whatever. It's a matter of belief.

Of course, some belief systems make for happier societies, or more fair societies, or societies in which individuals have more chances to achieve their particular goals, or... You get to decide which you think are the important goals (or you pick a religion or philosophy that tells you).

Just don't pretend it's about logic or proof!

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18168226)

National security concerns are not a part of the market, and never should be.

If there was a need for corporations to pass on information which may be useful to national organisations then the market would provide one, clearly it's not profitable to do so because as Government entities the national security agencies are far too inefficient and bueraucratic and unable to adjust properly to the marketplace, indeed the government may even have interfered to the extent whereby the government bodies aren't even allowed to pay corporations for useful intelligence !

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18168330)

The writers for 24 may not know much about technology, but seems they have human nature pegged.

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (1)

soliptic (665417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18168468)

the security of the nation that keeps carbombs off my streets ...

Patriotism isn't an archaic concept; it's a survivalist one.
This is a nitpick, and it's off topic, so I'll keep it brief, but I believe you are wrong. You're right with your point about security, but I would argue this is a function of the state, not of the nation. As such it cannot be a convincing justification for "patriotism", as I understand it.

(IMHO, it is no coincidence that the distinction between "nation" and "state" is frequently and deliberately blurred by "the powers that be", because <extreme-personal-bias> if you think about it for too long, you might just realise what a giant crock of shit nationalism really it </extreme-personal-bias>.)

To put it in a simpler way: you can desire that the concrete apparatus and institutions of the state provides it's population the function of security (police, army, etc), without actually having love/devotion/veneration for the far more abstract / nebulous concept of the "nation", which is what patriotism implies to me.

Certainly that describes myself - I'm happy that the state in which I reside offers some degree of security (in practice I have some pretty major reservations about the things our police and army get up to - you know, shooting innocent Brazilians [wikipedia.org] , casually carpet-bombing vast swathes of the world who are populated by faintly Arabic looking types, and all that fun stuff - but that's beside the point - in principle I condone the security function of the state), but I'm definitely not "devoted [m-w.com] " to my nation.

Re:Am I The Only One Alarmed By.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18169024)


> Patriotism isn't an archaic concept; it's a survivalist one.

Patriotism is simply a way for a country's leaders to manipulate it's people. The kinds of issues we're seeing in this thread should be covered by laws and have nothing to do with patriotism.

See... Corporations have no conscience, they can't, it's typically their goal to make the most money possible for their shareholders. Even for companies that start out with vastly different goals and morals, over time they always degenerate to this final state. We have to impose a conscience through the state. "Guidelines" like Morals and Patriotism have literally no effect in the long run.

So what is Patriotism good for? It allows ignorant fools a handle to grasp--a tool with which to bash those who actually think.

For instance, it's fairly well accepted that the War in Iraq is a bad idea and EVERYONE (Well, except Haliburton) would have been better off without it; however those intelligent, insightful people who saw this in the beginning were battered back as unpatriotic and America-haters by those who would remain ignorant for 6 more years.

I'm just saying: Evil concepts that are only used to control the masses: Patriotism, Faith. Any more come to mind?

What Is A "Reverse Hacker"? (3, Interesting)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166714)

Does he un-hack things? Every search result for this term only points to the same story appearing on every meme site.

Because if he's an offensive hacker -- e.g. one of "ours" to attack the enemy -- that doesn't make it "reverse" hacking.

Re:What Is A "Reverse Hacker"? (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166734)

He used "hacking techniques" against foreign hackers.

Re:What Is A "Reverse Hacker"? (5, Insightful)

SighKoPath (956085) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166758)

Maybe a better term would be "Counter-hacker?" I don't know, really... from the article, it sounds like he hacked their hackers.

Re:What Is A "Reverse Hacker"? (2, Informative)

Obsidian Dagger (846679) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167128)

Yes, "Counter Hacker" would be more approriate. The article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shawn_Carpenter [wikipedia.org] provides some detail and it appears it traced the hackers and hacked the server they were coming from.

Re:What Is A "Reverse Hacker"? (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167228)

Then, when Counter-Hackers Counter-strike...

*ALERT* LAME JOKE WARNING *ALERT*

ok, I'll stop here :)

Re:What Is A "Reverse Hacker"? (0, Troll)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167896)

I note that some brave moderator marked this "redundant" - here's a bit of training for moderators: look at dates on posts before you declare something "redundant". A huge problem with Slashdot, as is, is the huge number of moderators that encourage everyone to just post replies to the first couple of posts, lest they get marked redundant by a clueless moderator using a threaded view.

Hahaha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18168254)

PWN3D!

You must learn to never speak the many failings of Slashdot aloud!

Re:What Is A "Reverse Hacker"? (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#18168350)

I haven't read the article (hey, this is /.), but I'd guess that they're referring to what would be called a "white hat hacker" around these parts. We view the term "hacker" as having a whole range of connotations. However, to the public at large, the term is purely negative. So, in order to put a positive spin on a negative, you call him a "reverse hacker".

Ridiculous contract (4, Interesting)

defile (1059) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166736)

After Carpenter's termination, the investigations into the Titan Rain group appear to have gone nowhere, said Winkler, a former National Security Agency analyst. He added that while the Carpenter award is welcome, it would ultimately be paid with taxpayer money.

"This whole thing is costing them nothing," Winkler said. "Whatever legal fees they are running up is just being passed back to the U.S. government," he said.

Their contracts with the government allow them to pass court awarded punitive damages to the government? On TV doctor dramas, punitive damages are awarded if there is evidence of gross negligence. For what possible reason would the government enter such an agreement?

Re:Ridiculous contract (1)

egomaniac (105476) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166830)

Just means that they are a government contractor, and will manage to pass the bill on to the government by padding their contracts. A quarter million here, half a million there, and who will even notice? The taxpayers? Ha!

Re:Ridiculous contract (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167396)

It's not so easy to pad. Especially for such a public penalty. No defense contractor in today's world would risk losing billions in potential contracts if such padding was discovered. Over 4.3 Million?

it's the only way to get the job done? (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166886)

Not justifying, just 'splaining..

hypothetical.. a condo assocation decides to take snow removal from the outside company (which charges a whole lot, and comes out even when it's 1/8th of an inch, and the temp is expected to melt that off in 2 hours) to the management company, who will perform the action as needed... the management company has increased liability if someone falls on the snow-blowed sidewalk, and says the snow-blowing was insufficient/caused the accident.

  the management company before agreeing to taking snow removal inhouse will likely insist on a shield from such lawsuits, and specifies 'absolute shield' as opposed to 'including gross negligence'

the problem with excluding gross negligence is- no one ever does when they are suing.. no one sues for actual damages, they always pursue gross negligence......

Re:Ridiculous contract (4, Informative)

dragons_flight (515217) | more than 7 years ago | (#18168088)

Sandia National Labs [sandia.gov] is a government owned research facility, operated by independent contractors. The government decides how much money to provide the facility. The contracted management corporation decides how to spend it, though if they fail to meet government expectations then the government can decide to rebid the contract.

So a judgment against the facility would come out of government funds originally intended to support research. The government can then either increase funding to cover the judgment, accept a reduction in research, and/or fire the management.

As to why use such contracts? Part of the idea is to create a profit motive by allowing the managing corporation to keep a profit if they can fulfill the government's expecations for less than the originally bid price. So a judgment like this would potentially eat into their ability to profit in that way. The other argument for such contracts is to reduce bureaucracy and political pressure at research institutions.

Re:Ridiculous contract (1)

steve_ellis (586756) | more than 7 years ago | (#18168560)

Their contracts with the government allow them to pass court awarded punitive damages to the government? On TV doctor dramas, punitive damages are awarded if there is evidence of gross negligence. For what possible reason would the government enter such an agreement?
You do realize that Sandia Labs is owned by the US government, don't you? It is operated by a corporation, under contract, however. I've never worked for any of the government labs, but I'm guessing if you do, you work for the government, not the corporation or university that manages the place. Since this was a wrongful termination suit, he sued his employer (i.e. the US government), not the company that his employer contracted to run the joint (the Sandia Corporation).

If the governement pays the fine nothing will (2)

miltons_stapler (1055792) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166768)

change. End a few careers and people will get the message.

Lockheed Martin, Big Brother Inc.? (2, Interesting)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166868)

It sounds like a delightful place to work, where other employees are afraid to talk to this guy now because they think their phones are wiretapped, and they would rather hide their problems than fix them. Just as well they never wanted to interview me.

Re:Lockheed Martin, Big Brother Inc.? (0, Flamebait)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167340)

I don't think many workers are worried about losing their jobs for bringing up security flaws or waste. There are always anonymous methods to report things like that.

I'm a bit curious to see what they mean by 'reverse hacker'. It is one thing to observe what happens in your sphere, but if you start mucking about, especially in restricted areas/networks it IS asking for trouble.

I suppose though, this deals more with the 'whistleblower' type reports. Thankfully I've never been in any situation where activites like that would be necessary, but to be honest, I'm not sure how things get escalated to that level. I've always had a method available to report even those directly in charge of me. I think the major problem here was the grey-hat nature of his 'reverse hacking' left him with no official avenues to report what he found.

I wonder... (-1, Offtopic)

mikecardii (978929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166940)

How does one "anayze"?

Sandia is the government (4, Informative)

Tzinger (550448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166948)

Sandia is government owned/contractor operated facility. The contractor is Lockheed-Martin. The relationship between defense contractors and the government is an odd one that goes back a long way in our history. Eisenhower (33rd President) bemoaned it and coined the term "military industrial complex".

You can think of it as a "closed economy" rather than a "market economy". The defense contractors operate on very low profit margins in exchange for a guarantee of income. It's not quite that simple but not far from the actuality.

Re:Sandia is the government (1)

ebvwfbw (864834) | more than 7 years ago | (#18168432)

Eisenhower (33rd President) bemoaned it and coined the term "military industrial complex".

These three words are so often misrepresented it isn't funny. He didn't bemoan it, he encouraged it. He was for a strong defense. He was also for peace. What he said in the proper context is here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military-industrial_c omplex [wikipedia.org] copied here :

A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction...

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.

You can't have a strong military without a strong relationship with industry that builds what they use. It is often the case that these "unwarranted influence"s he is talking about are military personnel themselves or Congress. In fact his original draft of this farewell speech had "military industrial congressional complex" instead. Too bad he didn't say that. Someone comes up with a stupid idea for a promotion or work fair project, and gets it. OTOH some ideas are killed because nobody would get a perk out of it. He also founded People to People and did many more things.

What happened to him is a hazard of that field. I've seen it done before, this is the first time I've heard someone taking it to court and winning. Now if we can just get that for every place security guys work.

Re:Sandia is the government (1)

lelitsch (31136) | more than 7 years ago | (#18169060)

"The defense contractors operate on very low profit margins in exchange for a guarantee of income. It's not quite that simple but not far from the actuality."

How do they make a $729 million annual profit off "low profit margins"? This must be some really great Kool-Aid that you're drinking. If you are unfamiliar with how to milk cost plus contracts [wikipedia.org] , there are thousands of people at LM, Boeing, Bechtel, General Dynamics and GE's Electric Boat Company who can show you.

Disclaimer: I used to sell to all of them in my last job.

He anayzed? (-1, Offtopic)

ThePolkapunk (826529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18166960)

In my opinion, he shouldn't have won. Anyone who has anayzed does not deserve to be awarded money. In my opinon, anyone convicted of anayzing should have a mandatory death sentence. There are many things in this world that can be tolerated but anayzing is not one of them!

If he was analyzing, however, that's a completely different story.

Re:He anayzed? (2, Funny)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167184)

My uncle was an anayzer, you insensitive clod!

He shoulsdstart his own consulting company. (1)

MrJerryNormandinSir (197432) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167372)

Well.. He should start up his own company or maybe the CIA or FBI has a decent paying job for him. Screw Sandia Labs.

Reporting security holes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18167436)

This brings up the often debated question, if you find a security flaw or hole in your organization (not to mention outside it), do you report it? And if you do, how do you report it to avoid getting fired, or even worse, getting prosecuted & jail for saying that the emperior has no clothes? I think that it is getting to the point where System Administrators have a "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" attitude towards security flaws to simply keep their job. It's sad that it is getting to this point, and it is what the whistleblower laws were designed to solve.

Why does the government have to pay for this Cr@p? (1)

ScaredOfTheMan (1063788) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167472)

Can someone please 'splain this to me.... "This whole thing is costing them nothing," Winkler said. "Whatever legal fees they are running up is just being passed back to the U.S. government," he said. Why?! The company got pwnd....The company lost Secret info....The company does something silly to try and cover their @ss, and now we pay for it? ....Whhhhhhhhhhhy?

Rekcah? (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167646)

Reverse hacker? As in rekcah? Sounds like a good tag!

all is not lost (1)

kahrytan (913147) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167826)

I personally consider this guy a Patriot for the USA. He should be awarded a medal for his efforts and offered a government job with the CIA or National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security.

Most amazing quote from the article (5, Interesting)

yppiz (574466) | more than 7 years ago | (#18167830)

This was his "exit interview" at Sandia, and I am guessing a big reason for the award:

http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?com mand=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9011832&pageNumber =3 [computerworld.com]

What happened then?

During my last meeting with Sandia management, a semicircle of management was positioned in chairs around me and Bruce Held [Sandia's chief of counterintelligence]. Mr. Held arrived about five minutes late to the meeting and positioned his chair inches directly in front of mine. Mr. Held is a retired CIA officer, who evidently ran paramilitary operations in Africa, according to his deposition testimony.

At one point, Mr. Held yelled, "You're lucky you have such understanding management... if you worked for me, I would decapitate you! There would at least be blood all over the office!" During the entire meeting, the other managers just sat there and watched.

  At the conclusion of the meeting, Mr. Held said, "Your wife works here, doesn't she? I might need to talk to her." [Editor's note: In court testimony, Held admitted using the word "decapitated" and that he wouldn't contest using the word "blood" although he didn't recall saying it. He also apologized for using those terms.]

Indeed, my wife did work there -- in Sandia's International Programs section, working on nuclear counter-proliferation, port and border security issues. In the context of that meeting, it was a chilling comment. Shortly after the meeting, which management described at trial as "a fact-finding session with Mr. Carpenter," my director showed up at my office, escorted me to the gate and stripped me of my badge. That was the last time I was ever at Sandia. [Carpenter's wife resigned and is now a White House fellow working as a special assistant to top-ranking government officials.

Re:Most amazing quote from the article (3, Funny)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18168052)

Your wife works here, Mr. Anderson? With nuclear material, you say? Hmm... it would be a shame if she was demoted to D-LINC status and no longer permitted to tie up valuable rad suit resources from all the other more substantial employees....

Re:Most amazing quote from the article (2, Insightful)

theodicey (662941) | more than 7 years ago | (#18168708)


Was his wife's name Valerie Plame?

Same s**t, different authoritarian boss.

That money should be for the poor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18168114)

This project was related to Mars and NASA? Than that money should goto the poor just like all the rest of the money we spend on the space program.

They need that money to get fat and die at the age of 43. That money could buy a lot of Ho-Hos and smokes and booze. We need to fatten up the poor with this money now! Shove those Twinkies into your mouth, homeless man.

He was NOT "awarded 4.3 million", RTFA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18168422)

He was awarded somewhere around $350.000. $4 mil was punitive damage (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punitive_damages)

Sandia Corp. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18168704)

Sandia Labs is part of the US Department of Energy. It is run for the DOE by Lockheed-Martin just like the Jet Propulsion Lab is run for NASA by Cal.Tech. This sort of shit may lead to Lockheed losing its contract much the same way as the contract to run Los Alamos was lost by that other California University. That is probably why they tried to cover it up. This is millions per year and a conduit to Lockheed being involved in related government contracts.

"Janurary"? (1)

Sanguis Mortuum (581999) | more than 7 years ago | (#18168998)

"Janurary" 2005? Someone needs a spellchecker...
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