Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government Databases Open Source Security Software

NSA Mimics Google, Angers Senate 193

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-be-evil-just-doesn't-work-for-us dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In a bizarre turn of events, the Senate would prefer that the DoD use software not written by the government for the government. Quoting: 'Like Google, the agency needed a way of storing and retrieving massive amounts of data across an army of servers, but it also needed extra tools for protecting all that data from prying eyes. They added 'cell level' software controls that could separate various classifications of data, ensuring that each user could only access the information they were authorized to access. It was a key part of the NSA’s effort to improve the security of its own networks. But the NSA also saw the database as something that could improve security across the federal government — and beyond. Last September, the agency open sourced its Google mimic, releasing the code as the Accumulo project. It's a common open source story — except that the Senate Armed Services Committee wants to put the brakes on the project. In a bill recently introduced on Capitol Hill, the committee questions whether Accumulo runs afoul of a government policy that prevents federal agencies from building their own software when they have access to commercial alternatives. The bill could ban the Department of Defense from using the NSA's database — and it could force the NSA to meld the project's security tools with other open source projects that mimic Google's BigTable.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

NSA Mimics Google, Angers Senate

Comments Filter:
  • by andydread (758754) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:18AM (#40684501)
    This seems like a result of the conservative cry to shrink the size of the federal gubmint. "Gubmint shouldn't be allowed to do internally what they can outsource to some private company" possibly owned by China. THis is sad
  • Huh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AltGrendel (175092) <ag-slashdot AT exit0 DOT us> on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:22AM (#40684533) Homepage
    Why should we get something for free when we can pay for it? Wait a minute....
  • Sell it to Google (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:24AM (#40684549)

    Accumulo runs afoul of a government policy that prevents federal agencies from building their own software when they have access to commercial alternatives

    Just arrange to sell it to Google, make them the maintainers, and buy it back for $1.

  • Nah... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:31AM (#40684603)
    It is the result of private corporations lobbying for more privatisation. "Shrink the Government" is the voter-friendly PR spin on it. We have the same in the UK...fortunately the privatised "security" company G4S has just screwed up so massively that the agenda must have been put back a year or so. Personally, I think that any and all national security functions, whether physical or cyber, shouldn't be provided by anybody whose managers I cannot vote out of office.
  • Re:Nah... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sortius_nod (1080919) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:53AM (#40684775) Homepage

    Personally, I think that any and all national security functions, whether physical or cyber, shouldn't be provided by anybody whose managers I cannot vote out of office.

    This highlights the problem with the "small government" argument. In Australia we've seen private companies run rail, road, telecommunications, electricity & water infrastructure into the ground because of conservative "small government" agendas. All that seems to happen is the companies stick their hands out for "aid" or the like to help them make bigger profits while neglecting what they are responsible for.

  • by mitcheli (894743) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @09:01AM (#40684873)
    Several years ago when I was a young service member and working for around $25K a year to develop software for the military, I was told that the military was moving away from GOTS solutions and was mandating that everyone move to COTS software. They replaced my position with contractors that made $75K a year and ultimately with multi hundred million dollar contracts with contracting firms who "integrate" in COTS solutions. Granted having become one of those contractors myself and having over doubled my pay in that time frame, I do have to admit I appreciate that cheaper COTS solution. Though I do often times wonder to myself if the Government centralized their development efforts, tracked industry standards for producing secure code, and further developed some of the charming projects they have worked on (like SELinux) what the world would be like today. Just think, instead of knowing a huge ass hole is in your current revision of router code, you could simply send it off to the developers to repair. No lack of a $100K+ support contract to prevent you from getting a patch...
  • Re:Nah... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ash Vince (602485) * on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @09:11AM (#40684955) Journal

    It is the result of private corporations lobbying for more privatisation. "Shrink the Government" is the voter-friendly PR spin on it. We have the same in the UK...fortunately the privatised "security" company G4S has just screwed up so massively that the agenda must have been put back a year or so. Personally, I think that any and all national security functions, whether physical or cyber, shouldn't be provided by anybody whose managers I cannot vote out of office.

    As a fellow Brit I have been following the G4S Olympic security blunder in the news too. I will be very surprised if it actually makes any difference in the long run to privatisation though.

    We have already let G4S run several prisons as part of a pilot scheme, once the pilot is over in a year or two we will outsource more to them I'm sure. Even before this G4S had a piss poor record when it came to prisoner transport yet they were still given more contracts in a similar vein.

    The simple fact is that government loves privatising stuff as it means they can push costs of large infrastructure projects down the line to the next generation. It also means they can make lots of friends in business and those friends will repay them with a nice cushy non-executive director role later on.

  • by windcask (1795642) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @09:20AM (#40685029) Homepage Journal

    I suppose I'll be moderated "troll" if I suggest that the government shouldn't waste time and money rewriting software that already exists and can be licensed in the commercial market. Not that necessarily there's a tool that can support the NSA's massive data-sharing needs, but still.

  • Re:Nah... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @09:25AM (#40685071) Homepage

    And "privatisation" is also spin, because what they really mean by that is "Transfer a large sum of money from the public treasury to the ownership of one or more politically connected corporations".

    For example, take cruise missiles: Right now, instead of the US DoD hiring a bunch of people to design and build missiles for $X, instead they go to a defense contractor, who in turn hires a bunch of people to design and build missiles for $X and charges the DoD $X+$Y. So in effect, what's different between the DoD just building missiles and hiring a contractor to build missiles is that $Y goes from the public to the owners of the contractor company.

  • by RaceProUK (1137575) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @09:32AM (#40685163)
    From a European's point of view, all US politicians are conservatives.
  • by dissy (172727) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @09:41AM (#40685257)

    I suppose I'll be moderated "troll" if I suggest that the government shouldn't waste time and money rewriting software that already exists and can be licensed in the commercial market.

    That isn't trolling at all. But I don't see why it shouldn't be handled like any other purchasing decision.

    Commercial Product A cost $X
    Commercial Product B cost $Y
    Paying developers time to create that product will cost $Z

    All else being equal, why _wouldn't_ you choose the option with the lowest cost?

    Of course all else is rarely equal, but still people in companies do this kind of thing daily, weighing the cost vs benefit vs features and then factor in the other issues such as support/maintenance over the lifetime of the product and the computing resources required to use said product.

    If paying developers to create it and maintain it turns out significantly cheaper than the other options, it only makes sense to create it in-house.
    If buying it and paying the support contract, as well as paying for modification/customization of features turns out cheaper than other options, then it makes sense to buy the thing and not worry about it.

    Without knowing dollar amounts involved and the required feature list, it's impossible to know what each option costs in whole.
    We also don't really know all the factors involved. I'm sure cost is a factor in there somewhere, but it could rank anywhere from #1 to #last.

  • Re:Nah... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @11:03AM (#40686175) Homepage Journal

    It isn't regulation that destroys us - it's the lack of intelligent regulation.

    After the crash of 1929, a lot of pretty smart people designed a lot of regulations, regarding the banking industry and the stock markets. About the time that George Bush Jr. took office, they got serious about deregulating banking and stocks. Notice that before Boy Bush left office, the market crashed hard - again.

    Over regulation isn't good, nor is the lack of regulation good. There can be tons of worthless laws that appeal to the average fool put into place. None of them will do any good. It's intelligent regulation that matters.

    Unfortunately - all the elected officials in Washington don't have enough intelligence to understand what they hell they've done in the past 12 years, let alone draft regulations to fix the damage they have done.

    What's that line - "never attribute to maliciousness that which can be explained by incompetence" - or something like that. THAT is Washington!

  • Re:Nah... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sentrion (964745) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @11:50AM (#40686827)

    In all fairness, political trends tend to be pursued within the legislative process of most developed nations, and such as been the case for decades. The governments of Germany, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Rumania, Greece, Spain and Portugal all implemented their own forms of fascism between the 1920s and 1940s. Additionally, the governments of Japan, China, Brazil and Argentina during this era were heavily influenced by Italian fascism and German national-socialism. Most developed nations adopted some form of universal health coverage after the Second World War. National Health Insurance was advocated even in the US from the 1930's through the late 40's, but later derailed as a "socialist" agenda during the rabid McCarthyism of the day. Totalitarian-style communism fell out of favor in many countries during the late 1980's and early 90's. Expansion of copyright protection and anti-piracy legislation is currently making its way around the world's legislatures as I type.

Testing can show the presense of bugs, but not their absence. -- Dijkstra

Working...