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Government Handhelds The Military Upgrades Technology

US Navy Develops World's Worst E-reader 249

First time accepted submitter Dimetrodon (2714071) writes "It is an unspoken rule of military procurement that any IT or communications technology will invariably be years behind what is commercially available or technically hobbled to ensure security. One case in point is the uncomfortably backronymed NeRD, or Navy e-Reader Device, an electronic book so secure the 300 titles it holds can never be updated. Ever."
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US Navy Develops World's Worst E-reader

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @11:48AM (#46990145)

    Nellie Moffitt is a clueless person who shouldn't be quoted on technical manners.

    "their GPS ... can give away their position to the enemy"

    A GPS receiver in a traditional e-reader (ARE there any traditional e-readers with a GPS?) can't give away your position on a sub because:
    1) A GPS receiver is only a receiver
    2) It doesn't know your position because it is in a metal tube 100's of feet below the water.

    A GPS receiver is going to contain an oscillator. Oscillators radiate.

  • Re:makes sense (Score:5, Informative)

    by schnell ( 163007 ) <me AT schnell DOT net> on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @12:52PM (#46990859) Homepage

    You mean photos of illicit activities.

    No, he means take illicit photos. Not to get in the way of a good conspiracy theory, but there are many highly sensitive areas on a US nuclear submarine that certain foreign powers would love to get pictures of for competitive intelligence purposes. That's what they're worried about, not some coverup of the Navy heartlessly waterboarding harp seals or giving blue whales torpedo enemas.

  • Re:In the navy (Score:5, Informative)

    by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @02:01PM (#46991671)

    security > usability

    No sir, that's just my Kindle. I didn't load classified files on to it, I swear!

    What? Our secret base was compromised because Private Biff's iPad, which tracked everywhere we went, was stolen by a hooker at the last port?

    Actually, on a nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed vessel with the ability to start World War III, I would argue that for the purposes of recreational reading, security is more important than usability. Consider the failure modes of usability for an e-reader meant for recreation. Now consider the failure mode of security on a nuclear missile submarine.

    I've tried to think of a way to make it updatable...including strong crypto that you'd need a keyloader to manage, so that only trusted devices could update or manage content on the readers. But ultimately, I couldn't find a way to make it so that the device wouldn't have to be considered a controlled asset...and that's essentially the situation they're trying to avoid in the first place. The sub is basically a gigantic SCIF, so if there's any doubt at all as to the device's capability for carrying data out of the environment, it becomes a lot harder to manage. And the OP speaks to it in terms of comparison to an e-reader like we'd have out in the open world; that's not what this is meant to be. It's meant to make it possible for sailors on the boat to have more books than they are used to having. It's a step forward.

Recent research has tended to show that the Abominable No-Man is being replaced by the Prohibitive Procrastinator. -- C.N. Parkinson