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Bush Cyber Initiative Aims To Monitor, Restrict Access To Federal Network 120

Posted by Zonk
from the gotta-keep-em-seperated dept.
dstates writes "Details of George Bush's Cyber Initiative are beginning to trickle out. The Cyber Initiative was created in January to secure government against electronic attacks. Newsweek says that over the next seven years, Bush's Cyber Initiative will spend as much as $30 billion to create a new monitoring system for all federal networks, a combined project of the DHS, the NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The U.S. government has launched a classified operation called Byzantine Foothold to detect, track, and disarm intrusions on the government's most critical networks. ComputerWorld reports that all data traffic flowing through agency networks will be checked, and that it will be inspected at a deeper level than the current system is capable of. BusinessWeek, meanwhile, reports that one requirement is to reduce the number of internet access points in the Federal Government from the thousands now in use to only 100 sites by June 2008. How this will impact public information resources such as the Library of Congress, National Library of Medicine or even the US Congress remains to be seen."
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Bush Cyber Initiative Aims To Monitor, Restrict Access To Federal Network

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  • $30 billion? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by baudilus (665036)
    Why is it that everything the government does costs so much more than what it would normally cost?

    Are they really itemizing hammers for $300, toilet seats for $1000? Are government contractors just taking us to the cleaners?

    Why does the public not have any say in where this money goes?
    • Re:$30 billion? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @10:19AM (#23077112)

      Why does the public not have any say in where this money goes?


      The public does have a say. Stop voting jackasses to power.
      • Re:$30 billion? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Skyshadow (508) * on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @10:21AM (#23077136) Homepage

        The public does have a say. Stop voting jackasses to power.
        ...but if we didn't vote for our jackasses, the wrong jackasses might get in!
        • ...but if we didn't vote for our jackasses, the wrong jackasses might get in!

          The problem is that we are only offered jackasses to vote for because only jackasses want to endure the headache that is public office.

          Your normal, everyday, right-thinking person would rather not deal with the bullshit that minority* and special interest groups think the government should support/regulate/subjugate.

          (* minority as in minority opinion, not race)

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by rbannon (512814)

        Why does the public not have any say in where this money goes?


        The public does have a say. Stop voting jackasses to power.
        We're beyond voting. At best, let's hope we're invaded by the next America to help puts us back on our feet.
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        You're implying there are some non-jackasses to vote for.

        I have a better idea -- let's stop funding them.

        Whenever a Democrat tells me we need to raise taxes -- in whatever code words they are using at the time, be it increasing business taxes or "rolling back the Bush tax cuts" -- I love pointing out where all the money is currently wasted. (Almost everywhere it's spent.)

        Why on Earth would I want to give them more? On the contrary, if we give them less money, they will have less power.
        • Re:$30 billion? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by eln (21727) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @11:22AM (#23077956) Homepage
          How delightfully naive. This administration should have taught you that it just doesn't work that way anymore.

          If you give them less money, they won't spend any less, they'll just go further into debt. The national debt is now so large that it is completely incomprehensible even to those in power.

          The debt currently stands at almost 9.5 trillion dollars, and is increasing at around 1.67 billion dollars per day. This level of spending would make even a drunken sailor blush, and it's being done despite the fact that we are giving them less money through the various tax cuts that have been implemented over the past 7 years.

          The government spends money as if it were monopoly money, and accumulates expenditures with little or no regard to the disparity between revenue coming in and expenditures going out.

          • I recently heard a nice way to help put these large numbers in perspective.

            The following time is the time it would take to pay of the following amounts at a rate of 1 dollar per second:

            1 million = 11.57 days
            1 billion = 31.71 years
            1 trillion = 31,710 years

            So at 1 dollar per second, it would take 301,243 years to pay back that 9.5 trillion dollar debt.
          • by strabes (1075839)
            "If you give them less money, they won't spend any less, they'll just go further into debt."

            This is why we should vote for real fiscal conservatives, not tax-and-spend Republicans like Bush & friends.
          • Greenbacks ARE monopoly money. Ever since we went off a metal standard.
            • by oakgrove (845019)
              Yeah, because it makes so much sense to base your currency on some arbitrary type of metal. Remember the most recent instance of complete economic breakdown in America? Post-Katrina New Orleans ring a bell? I guess they were all running around in there exchanging goods and services with "dabloons". Right.

              If you want to base your currency on a particular type of metal, might I suggest lead. Because when the economic shit really hits the fan, that's going to be the only real medium of exchange.

        • Re:$30 billion? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mcmonkey (96054) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @11:26AM (#23077998) Homepage

          Wouldn't it be nice...

          Why on Earth would I want to give them more? On the contrary, if we give them less money, they will have less power.

          The problem with giving the federal government less money is, we made the mistake of telling them what 'credit' is and gave them the power to increase their own credit limit at will.

          Whatever issues we have with 'tax and spend' Democrats, they have a more honest approach than 'borrow and spend' Republicans. But the bottom line is still, between the Democrats and Republicans, there is no right lizard.

          • by jafac (1449)
            the bottom line is still, between the Democrats and Republicans, there is no right lizard.

            My cat hunts lizards, brings them into the house, and plays with them until they are in small, bloody pieces.

            Clearly, we need to invent a "growth ray", and point it at my cat, and we'll solve this Democrats and Republicans problem.
        • by mweather (1089505)
          There are planty of no-jackasses to vote for, and they're easy to find. Look on the ballot for a name without a D or and R behind it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Skuld-Chan (302449)
          Eh? If they have less money - they'll just spend more of what they don't have.

          They are already spending more than they take in right now...

          I like how you blame it on democrats too - Bush lowers taxes, but spends more than any democrat. Essentially what he's doing is deferring any really hard financial decisions to the next guy/girl in power. Its like a stealth raise in taxes because the more deficit spending that occurs the more worthless our dollar is.
        • On the contrary, if we give them less money, they will have less power

          Oh, yeah, sure. After all, the government can't spend money it doesn't have.
        • by CCW (125740)
          You don't get that choice lately, it's either tax-and-spend and spend-and-tax-more-later

          Given that choice, I guess I'm happier with the former since at least it is honest and I'm not paying interest.

        • Whenever a Democrat tells me we need to raise taxes -- in whatever code words they are using at the time, be it increasing business taxes or "rolling back the Bush tax cuts" -- I love pointing out where all the money is currently wasted. (Almost everywhere it's spent.)

          and whenever a republican tells me that they're going to roll out new tax cuts, I point out the national debt and complete lack of funding for anything useful. republicans don't spend any less than democrats do on pork, they merely cut anyth

        • The money is currently "wasted" because we have jackasses in power.
          The idea that we can function without government -- well, good luck with that.

          Which is better; a $2000 tax cut that results in a 40% decrease in the dollar or an increase in taxes of $2000 that results in a dollar that stays the same value or increases given a salary of about $60,000? If you do not get that the "Santa Clause" who brings you "free trade" and "free wars" is costing you more -- then you are probably someone who voted a Jackass
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kingrames (858416)
        On the contrary, if the jackass party had been elected in 2000, we wouldn't have these problems.
      • by syousef (465911)
        The public does have a say. Stop voting jackasses to power.

        Yeah, that'll work.

        "Stop voting for jackasses....by the way here is the list of jackasses you can choose from".
      • The reason jackasses get to power is because non-jackasses are ingnored by the media, as in the case of Dr. Ron Paul
    • Re:$30 billion? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cryptodan (1098165) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @10:22AM (#23077146) Homepage
      You have to realize the magnitude of the US Federal Government internet foot print. You have to include all the ships in the US Navy, all the Army, Air Force, and Marine bases as well as Naval Bases. There are liaison offices, Embassy Offices, and other places. 30 Billion isnt that much for a network that big.
      • by symbolic (11752)
        And don't forget all the regular internet traffic being funneled to the NSA by our lovely telecoms.
        • Very nice use of believing in the conspiracy theories out there. Do you need your NSA Approved Tin Foil cap?
          • by symbolic (11752)
            Conspiracy? Someone who installed the equipment in secret rooms for AT&T has come clean and stated what they were doing. I'd hardly consider that a conspiracy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Are they really itemizing hammers for $300, toilet seats for $1000? Are government contractors just taking us to the cleaners?


      No, they are itemizing Cisco Pix firewalls at $500,000 a pop. Not including labor.

    • Re:$30 billion? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Lookin4Trouble (1112649) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @10:46AM (#23077488)

      Are they really itemizing hammers for $300, toilet seats for $1000? Are government contractors just taking us to the cleaners?
      *sigh* Thou shalt not feed the trolls
      No. The whole myth of $300 hammers and $1000 toilet seats came from a model of contract purchasing that's been out of use since the 1980s. That contract may have 300 hammers ($5 apiece) and one jet engine ($150,000), but the total cost of the contract ($151,500) gets spread across each item on the contract, so it shows up as (Quantity: 300, Hammer, $505 ea., Quantity: 1, Jet Engine, $505 ea.)
      • by baudilus (665036)
        For what it's worth, my question was an honest one, even though it may have sounded trollish. My apologies for that. It's just that $30 billion is still a lot of money. I am aware that government networks can be a pain (as I have done work for government), but for the scope of work it's still expensive. I suppose if you factor in the time frame (two months!) it's more reasonable, as it would be quite labor intensive.
        • It's just that $30 billion is still a lot of money

          Quoted for posterity and perspective. $30Bn is roughly a month's budget overrun (IE Money spent beyond what is actually budgeted) for the entire US Government. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

          And don't worry, I'm sure your earlier comment only seems trollish to those who have worked in purchasing/contracting for the government.

          One further point I'd like to make, however. We the gub'mint'ers are bound by a certain set of laws, when making purchases.

          If Company A, the fine upstanding manufactu

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'd like to find out which Government branch is buying hammer's for $300.00 and toilet seats for $1,000.00. Our company is a government contractor selling technology supplies and IT solutions to Dept of Defense and Homeland Security. We have to get special Federal pricing from the Manufacturers which is considerably less than comercial pricing for the private sector. Our profit margins are so minimal, think of 4 to 6 percent of cost. If what you are saying has any weight of truth then perhaps we will ad
  • SlashBias (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CogDissident (951207) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @10:17AM (#23077080)
    Well, from a network-security point of view, having fewer links to the web at large is actually a good thing, and things like this SHOULD be secured.

    Implying that simply because the departments arn't completely open to the internet in a thousand ways is a denial of freedom of information, is a huge leap.

    Granted, nobody trusts bush, and they shouldn't, as this is likely what he plans to do, but this part in particular is a good idea.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      No one implied a 'denial of freedom of information' except for you. Fewer access points might mean that public-facing government sites might have performance issues. Or it might not -- it depends on how they implemented it. That's all the summary said -- no one knows how the infrastructure changes will affect public-facing sites because no one knows the design and implementation details yet.
      • No one implied a 'denial of freedom of information' except for you.

        How this will impact public information resources such as the Library of Congress, National Library of Medicine or even the US Congress remains to be seen.

        Hey, read the summary sometime. Thanks.
        • I did. What part of that quote implies a 'denial of freedom of information'? All it implied was that these and other public-facing sites might be affected by this infrastructure change and no one knows for sure how they would be affected.

          You are reading stuff that isn't there.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Iridium_Hack (931607)

      I mostly agree - But wonder if another part of this will end out allowing Greater Penetration of the Internet public networks even as it limits access to the government ones. After all, if you have rights and abilities to break into networks in the public domain but never have to be concerned about the public breaking into yours, do as you wish. . . life is good! And no one will ever find out what you're doing.

      If they really cared about doing it right, it wouldn't always be a one-sided standard protec

  • The big issue with the George Bush Cyber Initiative is that it's called "the George Bush Cyber Initiative".

    Seriously, try saying that with a straight face: "the George Bush Cyber Initiative". Me, I'm picturing an old arcade cabinet-style version of Galga stuffed into a corner of that idiot's office (right next to the "Missile Command" cabinet that stands in as SDI).

    Anyhow, just my first reaction, but it was good for a laugh on a Tuesday morning. Please go back to your normally scheduled conversation.

  • by mmell (832646) <mmell@hotmail.com> on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @10:20AM (#23077124)
    instead of the more commoditized view of networking and security as two seperate entities, it might help.

    TCP/IP was never intended to be secure. It was intended to be flexible, robust and fault-tolerant. Security was not incorporated in the design of TCP/IP networks, save as a kludge attached after the fact. Fine for most of us; but if security is critical, I recommend using a different technology at the network level, one which incorporates security at the fundamental level. Since these networks should already be defined as "dark" networks, the potential for inter-network connectivity issues should not be a major consideration.

    Yes, DarpaNet is a remarkable invention - but it's the Model-T of the computing industry. Y'know how many guys got their arms broken by that bloody starter crank, before Henry F. incorporated a lead-acid battery and electric starting moter? Sure, the hand-crank works well enough, but it's time to come up with the next advancement, not to mandate more foam padding and other safety features for the arm-breaker.

    • Yeah, but back in the day you never had to worry about your battery dying.
    • So, you're right that TCP/IP has some attributes which make it less than ideal for a number of applications. However, it has (literally) network effects--the protocol is more valuable because of the number of people using it--which is why it has eclipsed all the alternative technologies: DECNET, OSI/ISO, ATM, X.25, Frame Relay, etc.... (I know I'm mixing OSI layers there) Heck, IPv6 is having a hard time even though everybody has pretty much agreed to move to it.

      Sure, if you wanted to, you could create
      • by mmell (832646)
        As opposed to fighting a losing battle to secure networks based on a system which by design doesn't incorporate security features.

        What's that going to cost, in terms of software design and implementation, training to effectively use and maintain those security kludges, and - oh, yeah, the odd intrusion/data loss which are inevitible?

        • by cfulmer (3166)
          Well, the biggest security problem isn't really in the network protocol -- the intrusions that you see happening aren't really due to TCP/IP directly -- they're because of high-level holes in the software, stuff like not checking boundary conditions or sanitizing database inputs. Most intrusions are not really related to TCP/IP, except in an ancillary sense. Intrusions into supposedly secure networks are made from machines which are already authorized to communicate on those networks.

          I don't see it as a l
  • The U.S. government has launched a classified operation called Byzantine Foothold to detect, track, and disarm intrusions on the government's most critical networks.

    Disarm an intrusion?! Because the intrusion is armed?
    • Disarm an intrusion?! Because the intrusion is armed?
      Of course. Once they [Iranians, al-Qaeda, whoever "they" are this week] get their troops and armaments loaded onto their trucks and start driving them through the tubes, there is no telling how much havoc they can wreak. Unless, of course, the tubes become clogged.
  • by the computer guy nex (916959) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @10:28AM (#23077222)

    Bush Cyber Initiative Aims To Monitor, Restrict Access to Federal Network


    This was obviously worded to stir the 'Left' trolling the comments.

    The article speaks of data lost to China last year due to hackers on the Government network. If our tax dollars should pay for anything, it should be national defense and to protect this data.
    • The article speaks of data lost to China last year due to hackers on the Government network. If our tax dollars should pay for anything, it should be national defense and to protect this data.
      Finally someone else who thinks like me. I totally agree. National Defense should be the key even during peace time.
  • Without this, how will the govn't know what sort of pr0n we're looking at?
  • Finally on target (Score:4, Insightful)

    by booch (4157) * <slashdot2010 AT craigbuchek DOT com> on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @10:37AM (#23077352) Homepage
    I'm glad to see that the Bush administration is finally on target with their network monitoring. They've been monitoring innocent citizens on the open Internet for years now. Pretty amazing that they'd do that before bothering to secure their own networks.

    What's more amazing is that I'm still amazed by government stupidity and corruption.
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by Brad Eleven (165911)
      This administration has been a consistent innovator in the areas of government stupidity and corruption. They have gone above and beyond what anyone could have expected in the realm of demonstrable incompetence. You won't see the liberal media reporting on these achievements; they actually try to use these record-breaking results to attack our Commander in Chief and his duly appointed minions.
      • Cool, my first flamebait mod. Either the moderator didn't get the sarcasm, or doesn't like the sarcasm.
  • Wait a second, here... This is funded? Why the hell has money been taken from my (shrinking) budget to subsidize this program for my Cabinet-level Department???
  • Firewalls (Score:4, Insightful)

    by davidwr (791652) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @10:40AM (#23077402) Homepage Journal
    I hope classified data already runs on its own networks isolated from the Internet. Some unclassified but sensitive data, such as taxpayer and social security data, should be given the same treatment.

    When the technology allows for it, I expect most companies to do the same thing, limiting or eliminating access to their sensitive data from computers that have access to the Internet.

    As for data that is supposed to be public, read-only copies - perhaps made nearly in real time - must be accessible to the public. If someone manages to break security and trash a read-only copy, the original data remains uncorrupted.
    • Re:Firewalls (Score:4, Informative)

      by yuna49 (905461) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @11:15AM (#23077838)
      The BusinessWeek story tells of a forged email sent to a senior official at Booz, Allen Hamilton involved with sales of US military hardware. The From address was forged to be from a senior Defense Department official, and the message contained a trojan PDF attachment that included a keystroke logger. These sorts of targeted attacks ("spear-phishing") have been on the rise in the commercial sector as well.

      But, let's analyze this particular event for a moment. First, why would Booz, Allen's email server accept as legitimate an email claiming to be from the Defense Department when it was sent through Korea and Yahoo? Messages like that ought to be blocked at the doorstep. I don't let mail with @aol.com From addresses in here unless they come from AOL's own servers. The fact that such an obviously illegitimate email could be accepted by one of America's largest defense contractors make me wonder how they recruit their network staff.

      Next, why aren't they using public-key encryption, or at least digital certificates for authentication? Hell, they ought to be using SMTP-level encryption with certificates for every message sent by DOD mail servers to their contractors. We're apparently more concerned about regulating the privacy of people's health information through HIPAA rules than we are about the privacy and security of communications between the military and its contractors. If you send an email with "patient health information" between providers in the clear, you could be in a heap of trouble. Why doesn't that mindset apply to defense contractors who have a lot more money to spend on this stuff than health providers?

      The article also glosses over the role that the Microsoft monoculture plays in all this. Some of these attacks target OS to install things like keyloggers, but another large chunk apparently exploit Office applications like Word, Powerpoint, and Access. The article suggests that a large amount of militarily-sensitive data is kept in Access databases which make them an appealing target. Apparently the intent is to burrow small modules into Access databases that ship out the data in the background when the database is opened. Last time I looked, Access wouldn't really be my choice for a database designed to hold and protect militarily-sensitive data.

      While it might be nice to think of the problem as somehow analogous to closing the borders, it looks to me like the usual security principle applies. It matters more who and what's behind the firewall than what's coming in.

      BTW, the whole focus on the guy running a domain registration service in China was patently ridiculous. Of course, no one with a throwaway GoDaddy account ever used it to hack into something; it's only those devious Chinese who've figured this out.

  • by wiredog (43288) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @10:41AM (#23077412) Journal
    such as the Library of Congress, ... or even the US Congress remains to be seen.

    Since the LoC and Congress are Legislative branch, and the President's Cyber Policy is from the Executive branch, I'd say "very little".

  • Just make it mandatory that a government agency has to use NetBEUI as their network protocol, using MS Proxy Server as their gateway to the tubes. Hacking potential goes WAY down.
  • by vmxeo (173325) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @10:50AM (#23077566) Homepage Journal
    Well, if it follows the same pattern of security as other parts of the government, each packet will be required to show two forms of government-issued ID, restrict its data to whatever it can fit into 3 ounce bottles in a clear quart-sized bag, and remove its shoes. Additionally, packets will also be subject to a "No-Route" list, and may also be randomly pulled aside for deep inspection. It will be suggested for packets to arrive at least 1 hour earlier (2 for international routing) for the extra queue length caused by the increased security.
  • by dens (98172)
    They can't eevn back up their emails...

    Sorry, just the first thing that came to mind. ;-p
    • by dens (98172)
      Then again, I can't even type 2 lines without typos. I'm sipping cappuccino now to alleviate that problem (c'mon, it's not even noon!).
  • Knowing governments, they will specify an implementation like:

    This internal email is incriminating, set archive bit to not archive.
  • Reduce access to 100 sites by June 2008? That must be a typo unless work is already started. I would imagine that it would require leases on buildings, secure power, purchase and installation of electronics, and training, hiring, and relocation of people to run it. All in two months? I don't think that could be accomplished even if the sites were run by private companies who get non-competitive contracts. Oh, is that the point?
  • Would You Like To Know More?
  • If only Government was "open source"...
  • Uhmm. So this is a classified project?

    Then why do we know about it?
    • by ahippo (878767)
      Because the existance of a program is unclassified unless the mere mention of a its existance threatens national interests and security. Example: The Army is hunting terrorists in Iraq = Unclassified Terrorist X is currently thought to be at location Y = Classified
  • But it is only about shutting the windows of government workers and forcing everyone else through a handful of guarded doors with frisking. As if anybody currently expects some kind of free pass today with how the current admin is running this country. They shouldn't if they do.

    Now, I wonder if every entry point will have a pop up asking of you are really sure you want to move forward to the next page? ;-)

    LoB
  • Get your Trojans in while there is still time!

    Actually on a serious note; I used to work for the Governors Office which we had locked down fairly well behind two firewalls (edge and office), and an active IDS system. When the DCOM viruses started hitting hard we saw an enourmous influx of traffic coming from Department of Defence, Homeland Security, and FBI, networks. Taking a sip from the fire hose with etheral showed that over 98% of it was DCOM exploit attempts coming from well over 1000 unpatched w

  • Oh the irony (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Tuesday April 15, 2008 @12:16PM (#23078676) Journal
    Does anyone see the irony in calling a large scale government information project "Byzantine [learnthat.com]"?
  • The ball has been rolling to reduce the number of entry points to government networks for a long time. For example, the DoD's Defense Information Systems Agency has been awarding contracts to agencies to try to reduce the amount of entry points to their systems to allow for better centralized management and security. The Air Force even threw extra money at it for their own systems:
    http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/12-17-2003/0002077687&EDATE= [prnewswire.com]
  • and get all their sensitive material on the SIPRNet [wikipedia.org] (or something like it) where it should belong. Nothing should reachable from the public network.
  • What are the odds the Federal Internet goes down first?

    Seriously, do they really think this failocracy can secure and buttress its own networks better than the open Internet everyone else uses?

    I'll give them this, though: At least they're having the common courtesy to try and keep attacks on the federal government from affecting my Internet. Damn kind of them.
  • This is a rehash of a rehash of a rehash of what Business Week posted a week and a half ago. Way to stay on the cutting edge.
  • by krinsh (94283)
    Marty Roesch was just talking during the RSA conference about IDS making a comeback - and more and more the signs point to observing and examining, not just reactionary blocking, of traffic. I'm going to start buying stock in Enterasys, ISS, Sourcefire and similar companies now because I think a good part of this 30 billion may be headed that way.

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