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US stopped using floppy disks to manage nuclear weapons arsenal

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The US Air Force has quietly replaced the infamous floppy disks it was using to manage the country’s nuclear arsenal with what sources described as a “highly-secure solid state digital storage solution.”

The switch reportedly took place in June this year, according to defense news site C4ISRNET, citing Lt. Col. Jason Rossi, commander of the Air Force’s 595th Strategic Communications Squadron.

Lt. Col. Rossi’s unit is in charge of maintaining the US Strategic Automated Command and Control System (SACCS).

SACCS is the communications system the US uses to relay messages and keep tabs on its nuclear capabilities, such as nuclear bombers, nuclear submarines, and nuclear depos housing intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The system was created in 1968 and has been running for nearly 50 years on top of an IBM Series/1 mainframe, using 8-inch floppy disks as its storage medium.

A CBS “60 Minutes” investigation that aired in the spring of 2014 brought this old but crucial piece of machinery to the limelight.

US government officials sought answers following the CBS investigation. A report by the US Government Accountability Office confirmed the CBS crew’s findings. The US Air Force told GAO they intended to update SACCS “by the end of fiscal year 2017.”

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However, Lt. Col. Rossi told C4ISRNET that the modernization efforts won’t involve upgrading all of SACCS’ capabilities. The Air Force likes their antiquated systems as they are, mainly because they can’t be reached over normal internet-based protocols, keeping it away from nosey hackers.

“You can’t hack something that doesn’t have an IP address. It’s a very unique system – it is old and it is very good,” Lt. Col. Rossi told C4ISRNET. “I joke with people and say it’s the Air Force’s oldest IT system. But it’s the age that provides that security.”

However, SACCS is not faring much better than other US nuclear systems. Last year, the US Department of Defense Inspector General (DOD IG) found that the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) had very poor cyber-security practices, such as not using antivirus programs, not using encryption to secure sensitive data, not using multi-factor authentication solutions, and not patching software flaws, some of which were 28-years-old.



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Security

The Five Pillars of (Azure) Cloud-based Application Security

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This 1-hour webinar from GigaOm brings together experts in Azure cloud application migration and security, featuring GigaOm analyst Jon Collins and special guests from Fortinet, Director of Product Marketing for Public Cloud, Daniel Schrader, and Global Director of Public Cloud Architecture and Engineering, Aidan Walden.

These interesting times have accelerated the drive towards digital transformation, application rationalization, and migration to cloud-based architectures. Enterprise organizations are looking to increase efficiency, but without impacting performance or increasing risk, either from infrastructure resilience or end-user behaviors.

Success requires a combination of best practice and appropriate use of technology, depending on where the organization is on its cloud journey. Elements such as zero-trust access and security-driven networking need to be deployed in parallel with security-first operations, breach prevention and response.

If you are looking to migrate applications to the cloud and want to be sure your approach maximizes delivery whilst minimizing risk, this webinar is for you.

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Data Management and Secure Data Storage for the Enterprise

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research brings together experts in data management and security, featuring GigaOm Analyst Enrico Signoretti and special guest from RackTop Systems, Jonathan Halstuch. The discussion will focus on data storage and how to protect data against cyberattacks.

Most of the recent news coverage and analysis of cyberattacks focus on hackers getting access and control of critical systems. Yet rarely is it mentioned that the most valuable asset for the organizations under attack is the data contained in these systems.

In this webinar, you will learn about the risks and costs of a poor data security management approach, and how to improve your data storage to prevent and mitigate the consequences of a compromised infrastructure.

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CISO Podcast: Talking Anti-Phishing Solutions

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Simon Gibson earlier this year published the report, “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” which assessed more than a dozen security solutions focused on detecting and mitigating email-borne threats and vulnerabilities. As Gibson noted in his report, email remains a prime vector for attack, reflecting the strategic role it plays in corporate communications.

Earlier this week, Gibson’s report was a featured topic of discussions on David Spark’s popular CISO Security Vendor Relationship Podcast. In it, Spark interviewed a pair of chief information security officers—Mike Johnson, CISO for SalesForce, and James Dolph, CISO for Guidewire Software—to get their take on the role of anti-phishing solutions.

“I want to first give GigaOm some credit here for really pointing out the need to decide what to do with detections,” Johnson said when asked for his thoughts about selecting an anti-phishing tool. “I think a lot of companies charge into a solution for anti-phishing without thinking about what they are going to do when the thing triggers.”

As Johnson noted, the needs and vulnerabilities of a large organization aligned on Microsoft 365 are very different from those of a smaller outfit working with GSuite. A malicious Excel macro-laden file, for example, poses a credible threat to a Microsoft shop and therefore argues for a detonation solution to detect and neutralize malicious payloads before they can spread and morph. On the other hand, a smaller company is more exposed to business email compromise (BEC) attacks, since spending authority is often spread among many employees in these businesses.

Gibson’s radar report describes both in-line and out-of-band solutions, but Johnson said cloud-aligned infrastructures argue against traditional in-line schemes.

“If you put an in-line solution in front of [Microsoft] 365 or in front of GSuite, you are likely decreasing your reliability, because you’ve now introduced this single point of failure. Google and Microsoft have this massive amount of reliability that is built in,” Johnson said.

So how should IT decision makers go about selecting an anti-phishing solution? Dolph answered that question with a series of questions of his own:

“Does it nail the basics? Does it fit with the technologies we have in place? And then secondarily, is it reliable, is it tunable, is it manageable?” he asked. “Because it can add a lot overhead, especially if you have a small team if these tools are really disruptive to the email flow.”

Dolph concluded by noting that it’s important for solutions to provide insight that can help organizations target their protections, as well as support both training and awareness around threats. Finally, he urged organizations to consider how they can measure the effectiveness of solutions.

“I may look at other solutions in the future and how do I compare those solutions to the benchmark of what we have in place?”

Listen to the Podcast: CISO Podcast

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