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Cloud Government Security Apache

NSA Makes Contribution To Apache Hadoop Project 102

Posted by samzenpus
from the need-a-hand? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The National Security Agency has submitted a new database, Accumulo, to the Apache Foundation for incubation. Accumulo is based on the original BigTable paper with some extensions such as the ability to provide cell-level security. It appears there are some hurdles that must be cleared concerning copyright before the project could be accepted."
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NSA Makes Contribution To Apache Hadoop Project

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  • by Fnord666 (889225) on Sunday September 04, 2011 @02:41PM (#37303784) Journal
    According to TFA:

    Apache Brand

    Our interest in releasing this code as an Apache incubator project is due to its strong relationship with other Apache projects, i.e. Accumulo has dependencies on Hadoop, Zookeeper, and Thrift and has complementary goals to HBase.

  • by Moridineas (213502) on Sunday September 04, 2011 @03:02PM (#37303890) Journal

    I agree with everyone else who says you're absolutely wrong. In common (American at least) English usage if you say something like "Here's hoping!" or "Did you get the part? I hope so!" and cross your fingers it means you're hoping for an outcome.

    If you have your fingers crossed for another type of statement (typically obscuring them), it means you're lying. Typically children's usage.

  • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Sunday September 04, 2011 @03:03PM (#37303892) Homepage

    But other companies and individuals that produce works do get copyright. While they may give the government (and even the NSA) a license to use their works, the government can't just donate those works off to Apache without clearing it first. That means any code the NSA didn't write themselves needs to be removed, replaced, or also donated by the owner.

  • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Sunday September 04, 2011 @03:18PM (#37303972) Homepage

    You're either trolling terribly or just terribly ignorant. In the hopes of the latter:

    The Apache Foundation maintains many open-source software projects, one of which is a popular web server. Another is Hadoop, which is a distributed file system for storing huge amounts of data on a cluster of individual computers, based on Google's Google File System and other similar technologies.. To facilitate access to that data, there are other projects that function as databases, with the actual information stored in Hadoop. One existing project is HBase, which is an implementation of a system (called BigTable) described by Google. Now, the NSA has donated the source code for their own such database (also based on BigTable) to the Apache Foundation.

    Now, there are a lot of Apache Foundation projects, and never enough time or people to maintain them all completely. The best projects are considered "mature", and the ones that aren't up to the normal Apache levels of quality and support and considered to be in "incubation". Someday, if enough people like Accumulo and help with it, it will mature.

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday September 04, 2011 @03:54PM (#37304192) Homepage

    NSA has been trying for decades to get vendors to get serious about security, without much success. One of NSA's units is the Central Security Service, the defensive side, which develops and tests security technologies for Government and military use. They have people testing safes and locks, for example.

    Back in the 1980s, NSA tried applying that approach to computing, with the Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria. [wikipedia.org] Systems were classified from A1 down to D. A very few specialized systems made it to an A level, but most commercial systems couldn't come close.

    Manufacturers hated the testing procedure. Software vendors are used to controlling their own Q/A process. The NSA approach came from the test procedures for safes and padlocks - vendors could submit something, and it was tested by NSA personnel against NSA criteria. If it failed, the manufacturer got a list of defects, which was not necessarily complete. The manufacturer could resubmit the product, and NSA would retest it, on a strictly pass/fail basis. No third try was allowed, and failure was publicly announced by NSA.

    After a decade of screaming and foot-dragging by vendors, the "common criteria" [wikipedia.org] security scheme replaced the TCSEC in 2002-2005. This is much more "vendor friendly". The most strict levels of the TCSEC criteria were removed. Security evaluation is mostly done by outside labs, not NSA, and the vendor pays for and controls the process. The vendor can keep trying to pass as many times as they want. Failure is not publicized.

    A reasonable number of systems meet some levels of the common criteria, but nothing below EAL5 really means much. Windows XP made it to EAL4.

    NSA has tried, with NSA Secure Linux, to get people to take mandatory security seriously. NSA Secure Linux has "mandatory security", where there are levels and compartments which create boundaries data is not allowed to cross. Think of everything being in its own sandbox, with limited and tightly controlled intercommunication between sandboxes.

    The point of that is not that NSA Secure Linux is a highly secure implementation of mandatory security. It was to get people to implement, modify, and partition applications so that they could work under a mandatory security model. A web browser, for example, would have to be structured so that the parts which could open local files were completely separated from the parts that communicated with the untrusted outside world. This didn't catch on in the browser world, although finally, a decade or so too late, browsers are starting to to run Flash in sandboxes.

    NSA keeps trying. This new database is one for which fine-grained access control is possible. The challenge is to write apps that can live with such tight controls. They're trying to get people to get serious about security.

    (It's been a long time, but I used to work on this stuff.)

  • Copyright issues (Score:4, Informative)

    by dwheeler (321049) on Sunday September 04, 2011 @11:15PM (#37306166) Homepage Journal

    We're going to see more of this sort of thing. Almost everyone assumes that all software is copyrighted, or that only the copyright holder can release software as free/libre/open source software (FLOSS). Neither are true!! This matters when the US government gets involved, because its "normal" rules are really different from most organization's.

    For example, if a government employee develops software as part of his official duties, then in practically all cases that software is NOT subject to copyright in the US (per US law 17 USC 105). It's not just that the author doesn't have copyright; there IS no copyright in the US. Also, when a contractor writes software, the government often receives all the release rights as if it was the copyright holder yet it is not the copyright holder (these are called "unlimited rights"). In this case, the government can release the software as FLOSS, on its own initiative, even though it is NOT the copyright holder. For more details, see: Publicly Releasing Open Source Software Developed for the U.S. Government [thedacs.com].

    The US government spends billions of dollars each year developing software. It's my hope that, over time, it will release more of the software it develops to the people who paid for it.

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