Skip to comments.Smart phones, stupid people
Posted on 04/28/2008 2:23:28 PM PDT by Paleo Conservative
A Mexican press attache walked off with "six or seven" Blackberries belonging to US officials at a summit between the presidents of Canada, Mexico, and some guy named Bush in New Orleans last week.
Press officer Rafael Quintero Curiel was captured on video tape picking up the smart phones, which were deliberately left outside a meeting room by officials. He was promptly canned.
Apparently, the theft went undetected until White House staffers noticed an unusually large number of visits to Tila Tequila's MySpace page on their data account. (Note to my more literal minded readers: that was a joke.)
Curiel's own explanation of the incident is more innocent (and to my ears, more likely). He says he found two devices outside a room where White House staffers were meeting, thought they belonged to the Mexican delegation, picked them up, and handed them over to a driver to deliver to the Mexican embassy. No cloak and dagger, no poisoned lipstick, no microdots containing secret US plans glued to his eyelids.
Just the same, David Gewirtz, email geek and author of Where Have All the Emails Gone?, says this is yet more proof that the government's lax attitude toward data security could one day have disastrous consequences.
Had Curiel been an operative of a foreign government -- let's say Korea or Syria, just for fun -- he could have had access to thousands of classified emails and other documents stored on the devices, says Gewirtz:
A typical BlackBerry has 64MB of memory, at minimum (they also often have expansion slots for more memory). Let's put this in perspective. The King James Bible is about 1,120 pages, or about 2.5MB, so a typical BlackBerry could hold about 25 King James Bible's worth of information. That's the equivalent in strategic U.S. government information of about 28,000 printed pages of data, or seven complete sets of all seven Harry Potter novels.
As Gewirtz and others have noted, Blackberries can be remotely disabled and erased, but only if you know they've gone AWOL. Curiel had plenty of time to copy the data stored on each device, had he wanted to.
Lest you think I'm being partisan, the Democrats don't exactly have a lock on digital intelligence either. Despite the popularity of Blackberries, Washington DC is still mostly an analog town. But the next occupant of the White House will be facing serious digital dilemmas. Let's hope he or she hires the right geeks to handle them, before the bad guys take advantage of our smart phone stupidity.
Maybe they were Atzlanberries?
I just heard the screams of ten thousand security officers. You don't put classified information on a portable device and leave it alone. You don't put classified information on a wireless network. You don't send classified email over an unsecured network.
However, it was pretty stupid to leave a stack of Blackberries on a table outside the meeting room. That's why you have "Skippy the Intern" sit outside and watch them and sign people into and out of the room. I had that job many times when I was in college working for a defense contractor. This was in the before cell phones were common, but I still had to babysit an occasional radio or camera someone had brought and wasn't allowed to bring in the meeting room.
The author of this article, Robert X. Cringely, is an A**Hole and does not know the facts of this case. His left leaning, lack of critical thinking skills, is obvious.
The area was secure and the attache had security clearance. He stole 6 or 7 Blackberries and was aprehended before he was able to board the return flight. Yes, sometime security breaks down. Somehow Karl Rove and global warming was omitted from the article.
you're real class act, aren't you, you mal-adjusted dweeb? Who let you out of your cave?
Yes. I believe this to be a case of espionage. These were trade talks. I believe the Mexican wanted to steal the devices, have them examined quickly before they were reported missing and erased, to gain the upper hand in trade negotiations.
Can you blame the Mexicans for thinking they can just take whatever they want from us?