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The White House Finally Got Color Printers (gizmodo.com) 122

An anonymous reader quotes an article on Gizmodo: Everyone loves an upgrade -- even POTUS. The New York Times reports that the White House has recently undergone a technological transformation, though it may not sound too impressive to many of us: Its employees are now equipped with modern laptops, iPhones and even... color printers. [...] Employees have new computers with "fast, solid-state drives and modern processors," according to the newspaper, along with color printers. There's a new phone system and many staff now tote iPhones. The Wi-Fi has been upgraded, so it's now fast enough to live-stream video. And security has been increased too, with a new software system for managing visitors and a chip-based card system which is used by staffers instead of passwords.
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The White House Finally Got Color Printers

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  • instead of passwords. Sweet.
  • The new equipment better be made in the US and carefully examined by the folks like NSA afterwards. White House remains home to the most powerful man on the planet — both militarily and commercially.

    It is the highest-value target for a very large number of people and even a printer can be used creatively by spies.

    • this is probably for non-secure work. the classified gear has it's own separate network and their own standards
      • by mi ( 197448 )

        this is probably for non-secure work

        I don't think anything done at the White House can be considered "non-secure".

        For example, when Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin met in 1945, Soviet doctors were analyzing the foreign leaders excrement daily. This was, how Stalin learned, Roosevelt does not have much longer to live... A similar analysis was done on Chairman Mao [bbc.com].

        Bet you would've ridiculed an attempt to classify shit until you've read this...

        • All you had to do is look at Roosevelt and figure out he was pretty ill. If doctors could establish your health status from excrement, you would be mailing a bag of shit to your insurance company instead of the company giving you shit all of the time because you are trying to spend their precious money.

          • If doctors could establish your health status from excrement [...]

            Are you really trying to dispute the utility of stool [webmd.com] and urine [brighthub.com] analysis to medical diagnosis?

          • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

            They can - here in Oz there's a free test kit mailed out to everyone over 50 (55?) every couple of years.

            You put this piece of paper in the toilet, do your business on it, swirl a swab through the turds, put the swab in a tube, seal the tube, mail it back, post paid. Oh, and flush the paper - it's designed to break down in the system.

            It's a screening test for bowel cancer, and it's been effective enough for the govt to continue funding it.

            All that poo in the post, no wonder Aus Post workers look grumpy.

      • . . . . as there are plenty of examples of classified, air-gapped systems leaking data to unclassified systems. To the point that there are standard procedures for a "spill" of classified data [nsa.gov] onto networks at lower levels of classification.

      • Secure or unsecure it's all commercial grade equipment. There are procedures to secure such as per the requirements of the network involved but there is not a special US one manufacturer of such equipment. HP is most common printer found but they don't hold a monopoly, I've seen Cannon, Lexmark and others. A classified network has no connection to the Unclass networks, and Higher level networks have no connection to lower networks. Airgapping (authorized and unauthorized) does happen but network separat
        • by jofas ( 1081977 )
          Lol wat. Do you know what air-gapping is?
          • Odd metonym, using the name of the security barrier to name the technique to breach that barrier.

            Back in my day, we called the breaching technique "sneaker-net". Of course, we only did it when it was authorized. :)

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      Creatively? effortlessly. HP laser printers can run code to spy on things, and if someone was able to slap a tiny extra board in there each printer could simply capture the print job and send it elsewhere disguised as harmless packets or sit and wait for the printer to be returned on it's lease to give up it's goodies, or transmit out of band, etc....

      Copy machines were compromised like this a LOT. Just read the NSA archives on what they have found in our embassy's around the world as well as american of

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        These are probably specially ordered. The normal ones print little yellow dots that let law enforcement identify the source of print outs. You can bet the Whitehouse ones have that disabled.

        Fully vetted and spyware/backdoors removed by the NSA no doubt.

      • by tibit ( 1762298 )

        The printer on a secure network has no connection to the public internet. There is no routing between the secure and insecure networks. So, the printer can't use the network it's plugged to by wire. It would need to leak data via a cellular modem. Easy to do. Not every secure location jams the good old cell networks.

        • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

          I imagine the White House is swept regularly, and that any source not on the "approved" list would be quickly identified.

          If it's your job to sweep the offices for bugs, you're going to pay special attention to anything electrical. That was my job, once and briefly in the 80s - pay special attention to the phone and fax, we were told. Update that to this century, and pay special attention to all the technology.

          It's also possible that the White House has its own cell/s and anything trying to "call out" would

    • by kuzb ( 724081 )

      Well they're using iphones, so there goes that theory.

    • The new equipment better be made in the US and carefully examined by the folks like NSA afterwards.

      That's no help.

      Modern processors generally have hardware-level "remote administration" back doors built in (and non-deconfigurable).

      The chip vendors tout it as a feature.

      • by mi ( 197448 )

        Modern processors generally have hardware-level "remote administration" back doors built in

        Please, pardon my ignorance, but this is the first time I hear about it. Could you share a couple of links, please? Thank you.

  • iPhones (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Finally, iPhones, now that the FBI has a way to hack into them it should be a piece of cake to find out what our white house is up to these days.

    The irony of equipping government with the exact same hardware you are trying to weaken security for hasn't sunk into them yet, has it?

    • Somehow I doubt that the White House bought iPhone 5Cs, I would expect that they bought new phones rather than used phones.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... super extra special, or do they insert yellow tracking dots [eff.org] like everyone else's?

    The rest of the teknologee has similar problems these days: Firmware even containing entire OSes running with more privileges than the OS you see before you, everything calling home, and so on, and so forth. Me, paranoid? No, we know these things happen. I'm asking if the white house managed to get special treatment on this. Probably not, though. Can't wait to see them getting blind-sided by policies they instituted themsel

    • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

      Why couldn't/wouldn't the govt supply contract include requirements for special firmware/drivers? A manufacturer includes "yellow dot" routines, or phone home/remote update routines in its normal software, it wouldn't have to spend a lot of money removing that code for a customised "govt approved" firmware/driver package. Otherwise they miss out on lucrative govt supply contracts. All the other equipment is wiped/formatted when the lease is up, why couldn't a printer be given a firmware update before dispos

  • by uploading the bait
  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Monday April 04, 2016 @11:18AM (#51838081)
    Why are they printing stuff when they all have laptops and tablets?
    • We've been promised the paperless revolution for like 20 years now. But paper has been around for thousands of years and isn't going anywhere soon. For example, there is a huge amount of ceremony around the president signing legislation on paper. Even the pens he uses become mementos. Judging from my office, paper isn't going anywhere very soon.
      • We've been promised the paperless revolution for like 20 years now. But paper has been around for thousands of years and isn't going anywhere soon.

        I work in government IT. We're so paperless that I have to bring in my own pens and Post-It notes. We do get a paper calendar handed out at the beginning of each year.

        • I work in government IT. We're so paperless that I have to bring in my own pens and Post-It notes. We do get a paper calendar handed out at the beginning of each year.

          It must differ according to local policy.

          I work for the DoD at a large west-coast military base. My office alone uses a full pallet of paper a year. I myself order several boxes of pens, and other assorted office products such as yellow legal pads, steno pads, bound log books, cases of post-its... We have a budget of around $15k a year for "office supplies"...

          I'm sorry, but the concept of a "paperless office" is not practical in a great number of situations.

          • It must differ according to local policy.

            Some positions require getting work done, other positions require pushing paperwork. :)

            • Some positions require getting work done, other positions require pushing paperwork. :)

              Hey, it is a DoD job...

              Thin Skinned response: Some positions require both, you insensitive clod...

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        We've been promised the paperless revolution for like 20 years now. But paper has been around for thousands of years and isn't going anywhere soon. For example, there is a huge amount of ceremony around the president signing legislation on paper. Even the pens he uses become mementos. Judging from my office, paper isn't going anywhere very soon.

        Actually, the paperless revolution was supposed to happen at least 30 years ago - the promise probably being made 40 years ago with the arrival of personal computers

      • Yup...paperless doesn't really often work for me.

        Especially, if I have some documentation that I'll refer to more than a couple of times, I prefer to have a dead tree copy of it.

        I often make notes and doodle in the margins of the dead tree copies, and when I need to remember where something was, I can "see" these doodles and notations in my head, and know what document it was in and where I put it....

        I just can't track and as readily remember things like that on digital copies....to me, much harder to f

      • We've been promised the paperless revolution for like 20 years now.

        Ah, kids.

        When I was in elementary school in the late 1960s, my teacher talked about how companies like Weyerhaeuser and Georgia Pacific were worried that - thanks to computers - they'd be driven out of business within the next decade or so.

    • I went to a meeting about going paperless. The first thing my boss did was go around and hand everyone a pamphlet about how we were going paperless.

      While it's probably less printing than it was before there is still quite a lot of printing where I work, as in cases of printer paper and dozens of cartridges per year.

    • "The paperless office is as about as realistic as the paperless toilet!" - Keith Davidson

      • It wont be long before we automate @#$ wiping. We'll have machines that can get up there and do a better job than any human, and won't use paper. Ultimately, this will be detrimental to the economy due to the loss of all those @%$ wiping jobs.
    • Really? your office doesn't use paper anymore? i would love to hear what industry that is in!

    • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

      Somehow I'm not surprised that even the whitehouse is victim to the bureaucracy and slow speed of the GSA (or whomever administers theirs systems) and its IT contractors.

      We just got "new" computers in my lab.
      64bit Athlon's running at 1.5GHz, and a whopping 3GB of RAM.
      It absolutely screams compared to what it replaced: a 1.2GHz Athlon 32bit that had only 2GB of RAM.

      As to printers, we're still using some b/w HP laser workhorses that are ~20 years old.
      Near as I can tell the maintenance has never been performed

  • I remember in House of Cards, the president wasn't allowed to use his game console. (Well, he could have it, but it wasn't about to be given any sort of network access.) But that was a TV show, and here's real life: where basically the same thing (iPhone) is allowed.

    TV takes things too seriously. If real life, government is all "meh, whatever."

    • In real life, government is all "meh, whatever."

      ...if you're really important or have a cosy relationship with whoever might otherwise make your life difficult. Whim also helps. Currently the federal government doesn't care as much about pot as it could, and enforces the laws for that more arbitrarily than it might have otherwise.

      Additionally it might help to avoid being:

      • a conservative leaning non-profit,
      • Hillary Clinton,
      • a former and unfavorable politician who committed a crime and was not a President,
      • a former and unfavorable President who committed a c
  • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Monday April 04, 2016 @11:25AM (#51838141)
    The way the Clinton staffers did when they left?
  • 99% of the stuff that needs to be printed does not need color. Most likely the machines are leased and not owned. That means most likely payment per print. Color is more expensive that black and white.

    That is why a lot of companies print default in black and more are using a code to print, so no unneeded prints are sitting useless at the printer.

    So not having color printers is not really an issue.

    That said, what might have been happened is that the lease was up and a new lease was signed. Newer printers (wh

    • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Monday April 04, 2016 @01:32PM (#51839143) Homepage

      99% of the stuff that needs to be printed does not need color.

      Are you kidding? Have you ever seen a Powerpoint presentation printed in B&W? It's horrible. All of those important colored bars, dots and lines just blend into a sea of low contrast grey. It's bad enough when the data is just financial reports from a Fortune 500 company, but this is the highest level of the US government.

      Just think if somebody printed out a map of the Middle East in B&W. It would be hard to differentiate borders - you might end up starting WWIII because you blew up the wrong country.

      No, color in this case is cheap. The world has too many shades of grey as it is.

      • Are you kidding? Have you ever seen a Powerpoint presentation? It's horrible.

        FTFY

      • 99% of the stuff that needs to be printed does not need color.

        Are you kidding? Have you ever seen a Powerpoint presentation printed in B&W? It's horrible. All of those important colored bars, dots and lines just blend into a sea of low contrast grey. It's bad enough when the data is just financial reports from a Fortune 500 company, but this is the highest level of the US government.

        Just think if somebody printed out a map of the Middle East in B&W. It would be hard to differentiate borders - you might end up starting WWIII because you blew up the wrong country.

        No, color in this case is cheap. The world has too many shades of grey as it is.

        except that every printed thing ends up being copied on a b&w copier and disseminated sooner or later by somebody or other.
        the wise author chooses fills, brightness etc. for charts so that items are still distinguishable when copied grayscale, even if less immediately so.

  • the previous stopgap measure [ytimg.com] was temperamental and made strange sounds.

  • When we buy a new printer or communications device, we have no need to think about that device in context with everything else we have. But in a high-security situation, it's probably easier to qualify whole integrating sets of upgraded technology at once than to go through the vetting process for each device in isolation.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell

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