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Feds Move to Secure Net 137

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the can-i-have-a-static-ip? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "eWeek reports:The Cyber Warning Information Network, a key part of the Bush administration's National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, will use a secure, private IP network separate from the public Internet, according to officials. The government currently has seven nodes running, said Marcus Sachs, director of communications infrastructure protection at the Office of Cyberspace Security, in Washington."
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Feds Move to Secure Net

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  • I would hope so (Score:5, Informative)

    by Blaine Hilton (626259) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:48AM (#5483395) Homepage
    Many companies have data centers in multiple locations with private lines connecting them. I would have hoped the government would have thought of this much sooner. Reminds me of a few months ago when they were saying the FBI has not been able to hire many computer experts because they could not pass the required physical tests.
    • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:54AM (#5483407)
      don't forget that those physical tests are 'standing up straight', 'sitting still without fidgeting', and 'looking at things outside without squinting'.

      Its a good job they didnt do psychological tests too - 'talking to other people without using IM' - or they'd have no computer experts at all!

    • Re:I would hope so (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MnO-Raphael (601885) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:56AM (#5483413)
      Physical separation of networks _is_ widely used among government and military networks. The reason being very simple: It's the only cost-effective way to guarantee security.

      However, even if you lease a private line it would still be in control of a third party, the telephone company for instance. In these cases cryptographic hardware is used to secure the channel.
    • Reminds me of a few months ago when they were saying the FBI has not been able to hire many computer experts because they could not pass the required physical tests.

      Yeah just like once a Marine always a Marine. No matter what job you do, officer or grunt, your still infantry. Any how with the budget as is and a limit to how many agents they can have.

    • "FBI has not been able to hire many computer experts because they could not pass the required physical tests." well, we all know that computer boffins tend to lie on the more chubbier side but whats that got to do with their secure network? :-)
    • Re:I would hope so (Score:4, Informative)

      by Proaxiom (544639) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @09:33AM (#5484069)
      I would have hoped the government would have thought of this much sooner.

      They have. NIPRNet and SIPRNet are two 'private internets' used by the US military (for unclassified and classified data respectively). This is just a new special purpose network for the Department of Homeland Security.

      They're not pretending it's a novel idea.

    • A long time ago, a friend of mine asked a client at CSIS (Canadian Security and Intelligence Service) what kind of firewall they used.
      "We don't use a firewall

      We use an air gap."
      Made sense to me... Now if they'd only stop losing their laptops....
    • Private lines don't contribute much to security, as they still go through public phone companies, public land, public airwaves and so on. If your company has confidential data that could be worth a million bucks to someone, you shouldn't trust this kind of security. Let's not even talk about state secrets.

      On the other hand, VPN over Internet can be very secure and far cheaper. Not VPN using OpenSSL on Linux boxes, because both OS and the relatively big library could have buffer overflows or some other low-level bugs. But it's easy to build a layered system that will be extremly secure. Say, hardware routers that decrypt and check signature on every incoming packet in hardware before looking at it otherwise. And then AFTER that, a Linux box that does a santity check on what comes through the router, just in case.

      • Private lines and frame relay networks don't keep you safe from wiretappers, but they're not exchanging packets with the Internet, and work just fine even if the Internet is dead. This is a network designed to be used when the Internet is under attack, so you want something that's not part of the Internet. VPNs give you privacy, but they need a working network underneath, and for this application that needs to be Not The Internet, though depending on what they're doing, they might want to run a VPN over private networks.


        Also, this network may not be very expensive - most of the traffic is likely to be email or occasional software distributions, and just about everything except a major Windows patch can run fine over a 56kbps frame connection.

  • by dew-genen-ny (617738) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:51AM (#5483399) Homepage
    I'd be interested to see how they propose to use this - ie is it completed closed, or are there specific hosts that have access to public and private. Inevitably there's always some host somewhere that comprimises this type of idea.

    Since their interest is in securing the net as a whole, it's a pity they're not practising what they preach, and try and implement a secure solution over the public 'net. Would be a inspiration for other folks.
    • by decarelbitter (559973) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:56AM (#5483415)
      One word: sneakernet.
    • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @07:02AM (#5483432)
      almost certainly there will be hosts solely connected to the private network, and never to the public. No doubt this can work for the government who will not allow just anyone to plug a new host in. (perhaps they have a single hosts file ;-)

      I think they cannot implement a truly secure solution over the public net as the protocols were never designed with security in mind - ie. anything that happens is a hack or a bodge on top of those insecure protocols. Whilst these may be good enough for you or me in practical terms, the government would want a quantifiably secure system, and the only way you get that is to disconnect yourself from the rest of the world.

      There are plenty of systems that do this BTW - I used to work for a company that did credit card processing. They had a single PC connected to the internet and not the lan, all the others were on the internal lan only. I've seen banks not connect to the internet at all.

      Thank god I work for a less paranoid company now!
      • I think they cannot implement a truly secure solution over the public net as the protocols were never designed with security in mind - ie. anything that happens is a hack or a bodge on top of those insecure protocols. Whilst these may be good enough for you or me in practical terms, the government would want a quantifiably secure system, and the only way you get that is to disconnect yourself from the rest of the world.

        Amen. Or, as someone said, the best firewall in the world is two feet of air.

      • Yes my experience is the same in many cases. In one defense company, the only internet-connected machine of a 1000 people sized site was a few machines in the library.

        And anyway in a major computer manufacturer's network, you didn't see much of internet except through the web proxy and soxyfied telnets. That's of course the way to go.

        If you want real security, you are likely not to want a machine connected to the main power lines as well (tempest protection). I guess an off line UPS does the job.
      • Less paranoid? The company I work for has a restricted network (with internet access in one direction only) plus 4 or more (its possible there are some I don't know about) secret or better networks for various projects. File tarnsfer in is vetted, and file transfer out is by physical media only, after the completion of several forms. But, with two or more PCs on most desks, at least everyone gets net access anyway :o)
    • It will start out as a closed network. They won't be able to move much data in or out because that's one easy way to keep a network secure. An "air gap" is a wonderful thing for computer security.

      Then the users will demand access to the rest of the Internet, and they'll add a gateway.

      Then it won't be secure anymore.

    • ie is it completed closed, or are there specific hosts that have access to public and private. Inevitably there's always some host somewhere that comprimises this type of idea.

      No, they are completely separate. They have problems with people needing multiple computers to work on the different networks; there was an article a while ago about the gvt wanting an OS that can run on separate NICS, with separate OS instances for each NIC, and without sharing memory addressing between the instances- current VM software doesnt meet the requirements. I guess having three computers per person is expensive, go figure.

    • by jpferguson (524008) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @03:08PM (#5486844)
      I can offer an example from the State Department. (None of this should get me jailed, I don't think.) Someone mentioned working at a credit-card processing company where only one computer was connected to the internet, and the rest solely to the LAN? The State Department applied the same principle of redundant hardware, on a much vaster scale. When I worked there in 2000-2001, each desk had two machines hooked up to a single monitor, mouse and keyboard via a switching box. One machine, covered in green stickers, as the "unclass" box; the other, covered in red, was "class." The unclass machine was hooked up to the internet via ethernet; the class machine was hooked up to State's LAN via ethernet, through a separate series of routers and servers. (The class machine also had a removable hard disk, the type that you unlock, yank out, and toss into your safe every night, along with all of your files.) The only way to transfer information between the two machines was via floppy disk.

      The principle was good: all of your internet research and private email was done on the unclass machine; all of your quotidian tasks, including accessing the archives and the cable database, was done on the class machine. Department-Embassy communication went through the State Department's cable system and thus was also unconnected from the public network.

      If the government is willing to apply hardware redundancy on a massive scale, they can certainly replicate such a system in those agencies that do not have it already. There are still obvious human errors that can muck up such a system. For example, when rushed, many foreign service officers would e-mail colleagues in the embassies for information. While one wasn't supposed to discuss classified topics on e-mail because of the weaker security, it wasn't always easy to decide where to draw the line. Similarly, if you were writing a report that drew on classified and unclassified data, and much of the unclassified data was online, then it was tempting to slap your floppy disk with a copy of your classified report into the unclassified machine and work on it there, so as to copy and paste material more easily. Still, these are human errors; eliminating them is a different topic. As long as we are willing to think on a scale commensurate with the government's resources, it would be technically difficult to create such a system.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:51AM (#5483400)
    The Cyber Warning Information Network, a key part of the Bush administration's National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, will use a secure, private IP network separate from the public Internet, according to officials.

    TOP STORY: A single government branch sets up an internal network, separate from the internet. Tonight at eleven, find out what kind of routers they bought.
  • What? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by decarelbitter (559973) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:53AM (#5483405)
    You mean they didn't already have a separate network? Well, I didn't think high of them anyway, but here's yet another reason why.
    • yeah, i and most posts so far agree.

      and i and really, any army or bigger companies(well, most of them maybe not have them physically _totally_ cut off from internet) will have such private networks, you just can't trust that the allmighty internet will work on such critical systems, and the whole security side of things too.
    • Well they did when I worked there. But some of my cow-orkers used to program their user id and pw into the function keys on their terminals. So I guess the security is only human. (Flashes id card with picture of micky mouse).

      Did you hear the joke about CIA sending Iraq Generals bogus SMS? Hard to do when there is bugger all mobile coverage in Iraq.

      I thought the point of the internet was to be so vast as to be unstoppable...
    • They have more than one private network. There is no overarching government private network, but the DOD itself has two (SIPRNet and NIPRNet).

      There isn't really a point to having a single large network, because access would be too hard to control and you'd lose the security benefit. The preferred solution is to deploy multiple independent private networks, each with a special purpose enabling access to be very limited.

      That's exactly what this is.

  • bastards (Score:1, Informative)

    by solidox (650158)
    either they mean there gunna use 10.x.x.x or one of there many DoD class A subnets (i think they got 7 or 8), they do not need 16.7million * 7 ip addresses. this is why there's a global ipv4 shortage, cos the bastards at the DoD and other places own most of them.
    • Re:bastards (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mooZENDog (567187)
      this is why there's a global ipv4 shortage, cos the bastards at the DoD and other places own most of them

      I think that possibly a more relevant explanation of the ipv4 shortage would be that because there are so many new nodes being added, a shortage of addresses was obviously going to happen at some point. What with all the mobile phones and other, smaller devices (i.e. embedded systems in Internet-enabled fridges etc). that are connecting, ipv4 was going to run out at some point.

      Besides, ipv6 should sort out that problem... Come 2010 even us poor souls in the UK may have completely switched to the new protocol version. Just in time to see BT finally provide full, half-decent UK broadband coverage (maybe give it a few more years though eh) :)
      • Re:bastards (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Heck, it's not the DoD that has all those IPs tied up! It's the universities! I don't know how many times I've come across colleges with a whole Class B, and every single PC has a routable address. And since only the very largest ones have anywhere close to 64K nodes, the vast majority of their space is just plain empty.

        You want to make IPv4 last another decade? Take back all the colleges' IP blocks, make them use a single Class C with NAT-ing.
        • Re:bastards (Score:2, Insightful)

          by 6169 (318124)
          You are right in that most colleges are assigned more address space than they use. My school of 1600 has a handful of class C nets, and maybe 30 systems that actually need to be routable.

          I disagree that forcing them to squeeze into less space is going to buy much of an extension to ipv4, however. In fact I think it's the wrong idea entirely. Any system where saving address space is such a high priority needs to be changed, especially since an alternative already exists in ipv6.

          Even forcing all the schools to use a Class C network would buy only a few hundred million addresses, which is a drop in the pond at the rate that the net is growing worldwide, what with phones, PDAs, and toasters needing their own network connections these days.
          • Even forcing all the schools to use a Class C network would buy only a few hundred million addresses, which is a drop in the pond at the rate that the net is growing worldwide, what with phones, PDAs, and toasters needing their own network connections these days.

            And why can't those PDA's be NAT'ed through their provider?

            • They probably could be. I'm sure 99% of systems on the 'net could be NATed and not even notice. But let's pretend that we had enough addresses to make your PDA or phone routable. Wouldn't it be cool to be run a webserver on your phone? Or that you could access your PDA's calendar (left on your desk, of course) from work via ssh or IP?
    • ... but what the hell does their addressing scheme on a PRIVATE NETWORK have to do with the Internet? Since the two are never going to be connected, it seems to me that they can use whatever IP's they want, without any impact on anyone else.

      Sean
    • Well I know that HP has a full Class A that is *not* visible to the world as does IBM so that is 2 full Class A s right there...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:55AM (#5483410)

    from http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,3959,922570,00.asp

    March 10, 2003

    Feds Move to Secure Net

    ByDennis Fisher

    SAN DIEGO--The White House and the new Department of Homeland Security have begun in earnest the process of implementing the plan to secure the nation's critical networks--starting with extensive changes in the federal security infrastructure.

    The most significant move is the development of a private, compartmentalized network that will be used by federal agencies and private-sector experts to share information during large-scale security events, government officials said at the National Information Assurance Leadership conference here last week.

    The system is part of the newly created Cyber Warning Information Network, a group of organizations including the National Infrastructure Protection Center, the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office and others that have some responsibility for the security of federal systems. The private-sector Information Sharing and Analysis Centers will also be included.

    The Cyber Warning Information Network, a key part of the Bush administration's National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, will use a secure, private IP network separate from the public Internet, according to officials. The government currently has seven nodes running, said Marcus Sachs, seen on left, director of communications infrastructure protection at the Office of Cyberspace Security, in Washington.

    Sachs, speaking at the conference here, which was put on by The SANS Institute, pointed to last week's handling of the critical vulnerability in the Sendmail Mail Transfer Agent package as a prime example of how such back-channel communication between vendors, researchers and the government can help protect end users. Researchers at Internet Security Systems Inc., in Atlanta, discovered the vulnerability in mid-February and immediately notified officials at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security.

    The government quietly spread the word among federal agencies and, along with ISS, began contacting the affected vendors. After the vendors developed patches, the fixes were deployed quickly on critical government, military and private-sector machines before the official announcement of the vulnerability.

    However, some in the security community say that until the CWIN is fully operational and proven, they'll continue to use existing methods.

    "I would not have used CWIN for Sendmail. There are too many questions about something that has not been fully deployed," said Pete Allor, manager of the threat intelligence service at ISS and director of operations at the Information Technology ISAC. "I'd like to know who I'm transmitting information to and the rules for dissemination.

    "My two biggest concerns are having private-sector information on a government network and if Congress withdraws the [Freedom of Information Act] exemption, there won't be any reason for private companies to use [the CWIN]," Allor said. While speculation exists, to date no bill has been introduced to remove the FOIA exemption in the Homeland Security Act.

    As part of the plan to improve security, the CIO of each federal agency is, by statute, now accountable for the security of that agency's network. This is a significant change, considering the lack of responsibility permeating government security efforts.

    "This is the first time this has ever happened," Sachs said. "It used to be that it was their job, but they just said, 'Yeah, I guess we're secure.'"

    The internal structure of the government's security apparatus is also undergoing some major changes, officials said. The President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, formerly part of the Office of Cyberspace Security, is now part of the Homeland Security Council. But that may not be where it ends up. There are indications that the board may end up as part of the Department of Homeland Security.
  • what took so long? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by turtle-spin (555326) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:55AM (#5483411)
    not being overly experienced myself in design of infrastructure for critical and data sensitive systems, surely this thought of thing is not the newest idea in the book. I would have thought most agencies would already have "critical" and "secure" networks in place to deal with emergency situations like mass DDOS or vulnerability attacks especially with all the paranoia for the last 5 years odd about cyberterrorism..
    • by Detritus (11846)
      Contrary to popular belief, most federal agencies don't have steamer trunks full of cash in the basement, in case they need to buy some more $900 toilet seats. Just putting a PC on everyone's desk with a LAN connection is either a still a goal or a recent accomplishment at many agencies. There are a substantial number of closed Internets that are used for handling classified or mission critical information. Generic Internet access is still classified as not being mission critical, even though the government is rapidly becoming more dependent on email and services/information delivered over the web.
  • by smoon (16873) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:55AM (#5483412) Homepage
    The company I work for has had a 70+ node WAN with separate IP address space from the Internet for about 5 years, and before that a 6-7 node WAN running IPX.

    This seems so utterly obvious that I'm completely mystified as to why this is a news-worthy article. Or is this just a joke?

    Yipee! The feds have an 'intranet'. I hope I don't pee my pants with excitement!
  • by watzinaneihm (627119) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:57AM (#5483419) Journal
    1 Start a network for army
    2 Open it to Universities
    3 Open it to everyone
    4 Watch while "terrorists" start to spread viruses on it
    5 Start network for the Feds
    .....Rinse and repeat.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You forgot:

      6 (Warning: Unreachable code): Profit!

      Also, they'll use decimal IPv4 addresses -- which would explain a lot about the Uplink game [introversion.co.uk]...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Go easy on the terrorist word,
      if you keep tossing that word around
      freely applying it to everyone, pretty
      soon domestic protests will be labeled
      terrorist gatherings and other bad
      stuff might result. I don't condone
      releasing worms but its not terrorism.
      I'm not terrorized when my web logs file
      up with code red, just irritated.
      • They already are. People have been arrested (though, in the cases I heard of, not held) merely for wearing anti-war tee-shirts.

        Practically speaking, the Star Chamber has been recreated. That was the imposition of the English monarchy that habeus corpus was specifically created to stamp out. People being arrested without their name being released, without being allowed any outside contacts, and held indefinitely without being charged. Flagrant constitutional violations, but all actions taken by our government.

        In *most* of the cases I've heard of there has been decent reason for the person to be arrested. But not for the violation of their rights. And in more than one of the cases I have not been able to determine any reason. (This doesn't mean there wasn't one. The information available it *intentionally* fragmentary.)

  • by stroudie (173480) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:57AM (#5483420)
    I find it surprising that this doesn't exist already - surely this is something like a slightly shinier version of UK Government Secure Intranet [cw.com] which has been operational for some time.

    Surely the US government has something equivalent...?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Now if terrorists want to attack american government, we can still download porn at full speed :)
  • by ItaliaMatt (581886) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @06:58AM (#5483425)
    The military has it's own private and secure data/voice network. They have their own private IP's and everything. Any time people working on the unclassified network need to move data to the classified network they have to use "sneaker-net" and make damn sure the data isn't infected with a virus. Perhaps this is what the Department of National Security is modeling it's data network after.
  • Hmm. (Score:2, Funny)

    by twiztidlojik (522383)
    Wonder if they're testing the TIA project on their intraweb ;)
  • by fire-eyes (522894) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @07:11AM (#5483447) Homepage
    Uh, look up what SIPRNET and NIPRNET are... been around for a long long time...

    • (Thank God for typeahead find in Mozilla, I was just about to post this...)

      Anyway, I think the somewhat big news here is that non miltary agencies will be moving to the SIPRNET. And switching over more "routine" communications to this systems has to be a good thing for a variety of reasons.

      And for those to lazy to google, here's a link [fas.org]. SIPRNET is designed to encrypt and send traffic, and they use their own wres and relays. (Although I can't swear that they don't use some of the commericial wires as well.)
  • How much is this NEW RRRRREVOLUTIONARY idea going to cost us?

    And what are they doing about the OS they run in this new playground?
  • Guess I was the only one who read it like that... shew.

    "Oh my god... the Feds are taking control of the net?! What the hell is happening? What about my pr0n?!"
  • by martin (1336)
    finally starts implementation in US govmt networks - film at 11... :-)
  • Theyre gonna change the ip of all _7_ computers to 10.0.0.blah and unplug the modem. Wow.. a really innovative idea.. why didnt I think of that? Oh wait.. I did! Seriously though, even with a network completely separate form the internet, there will inevitably be a need to connect to the network from the outside, probably via dialup, and this will be the networks downfall. Even if this doesnt happen, all it takes is one person to install wifi, leave a modem connected, or decide they want to browse slashdot from one of these machines, and there is an entry point, which some skilled hac^H^H^Hidiot could gain access. Sure, disconnecting computers from the internet will help matters, but if this makes people complacent - 'Oh, I dont need to install the sendmail patch, 'cause I'm not on the internet!' (The logic of running sendmail on a non connected computer ignored at this point), then it would have been better to leave the possibility of machines being connected, and have people be more vigilant with patches.
    • Re:You mean... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 6hill (535468) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @07:51AM (#5483541)

      One would assume the actual hardware would be under lock and key and behind a pair of burly Marines, to discourage any stray installers of WiFi cards etc. One would also assume there are software safety measures that would prevent the stray installer from importing dangerous data or viruses via sneakernet. And finally, one would assume that deviating from the strict rules of conduct will result in reprimands/jail time/caning (delete as applicable) depending on how dangerous or stupid the said stray installer acted.

      As for patching, that's fine for security levels up to a certain degree, but there are unpatched and undiscovered bugs around any given time, as the submissions history on /. will tell you.

      • You may be assuming too much - this is a government project, right?
        • Very true; having worked for the government, I can say that there are some very dim bulbs in the mix. However, I'd rather trust the government to assign the burly Marines properly than to keep up with the esoteric field of security patching -- an art form at its best, nigh unto impossible at worst.
  • IPv6? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by janap (451953) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @07:31AM (#5483496)
    If this "fednet" thing is to be totally separate, they're not staying with IP version 4, are they? The article doesn't say as far as I can make out.

    That's about the only realistic route a worldwide migration to IPv6 could take, I think - building an entirely separate infrastructure.

    Then we can have that one and they can have the old one back!
  • by Xner (96363) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @07:37AM (#5483510) Homepage
    Is the extra hassle involved with deploying a completely separate network (digging?) justified in terms of increased security when compared to simply setting up a secure tunnel over an existing long distance link?
    These people employ some of the best mathematicians and engineers in the world, they ought to be able to come up with a good implementation.

    Not to mention the fact that even a separate link is going to require some informataion-level security as you don't want every tech with a current probe to be able see your network traffic ...

    • IIRC, the Feds were big in the development of protocols like DES and then RSA, and are supporting the adoption of AES, so it's not as if they don't want to use secure tunneling at all. On the other hand, they've also realized pretty quickly (and largely from firsthand experience) that any encryption algorithm is breakable given enough computer power. So while I'm sure they don't have any problems using this sort of secure tunnel for most communication, I think it's a valid decision for them to use a totally different Intranet for the most secure stuff.

      -- shayborg
    • Is the extra hassle involved with deploying a completely separate network (digging?)

      No digging for physically seperate cabling, but using "private lines" (ISDN, frame relay, OC-x) from telecos to interconnect between various government departments and agencies without relying on the public Internet infrastructure.

      Actual companies like AT&T, WorldCom, and Sprint could use some new business, so the telecom sector will welcome this.

      justified in terms of increased security when compared to simply setting up a secure tunnel over an existing long distance link?

      Yes, a secure tunnel only provides confidential and integrity, it does not ensure availability. For a government secure network, it is reasonable to prevent a failure in the public Internet (root servers offline, major Internet eXchange destroyed, new Warhol worm) effecting the availability of this secure network.

      The hardest part is keeping it clean while keeping it useful. There is a lot of temptation to use bridging and gateways of various technical (so called "air-gap" network NICs, which allow an insecure machine connect to both the public Internet and then switch (without connecting to both at the same time) to the "secure" federal network. Except any worms or trojans love these machines as an attack vector) and less-technical sorts (sharing files via CD-R/RW).

      There are classifed networks and such already, but they are a pain to use with properitary software / interface typically on a time-sharing computer, and lack means of inputting new (read: useful) data other than to key it in by hand. Which makes for a lot of secret and top secret cleared data entry clerks, or a really big problem.

  • by janap (451953)
    If this "fednet" is to be totally separate, they're not going with IP version 4, are they? The article doesn't say.

    That's about the only realistic route a worldwide migration to IPv6 could take, in my opinion - building an entirely separate infrastructure.

    Then we can have that one and they can have the old one back!
    • Ho-hum, let me blame my company's Internet Slowness Aggregation-server for the double post. Feel free to mod parent redundant. It certainly is.
  • by Bazzargh (39195) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @07:38AM (#5483513)
    everybody from outside who came onto their Unreal Tournament server kicked their ass.

    7 nodes? What is this - an FBI LAN party?
    • > everybody from outside who came onto their Unreal Tournament server kicked their ass.
      >7 nodes? What is this - an FBI LAN party?

      Worse, some guy wrote half a dozen TS and SCI reports on the big computer with the bright red case and glowing red side window, because he figured that had to be the one on the secure net.

      Turned out that was the UT server, case-modded by a couple of uncleared interns. Oops.

  • "Security" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @07:41AM (#5483520) Homepage Journal
    This will be a VPN or simply a private network with their own separate communication channels between the nodes?

    And the nodes will be also connected to internet? If this is true, a worm that goes thru internet (i.e.if in some moment comes a sendmail worm and a company have a postfix in the dmz that receives and forward the main to the internal sendmail would be vulnerable also) could pass between the two networks, I remember how much damage do CodeRed2 and Nimda in not properly secured internal networks. In this case, if the networks are connected to the two networks, a worm could enter from one point and try to infect the other (at least email will be the common point between them.

    But, if they are only connected between them and NOT connected to internet (neither by mail), they are not solving the problem with this, only isolating some critical (?) part of the network so worms like this one [slashdot.org] will not infect their window shares and things like that (at least, until a worm that combines several ways to spread enter there)

  • And ask them if they run a vuln version of sendmail, can i use "secret-gateway.mil.org" then?

  • whoopee! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    7 nodes - another 10 yrs they'll have a big enough botnet to launch a DDOS attack !
  • Noooo (Score:3, Funny)

    by Timesprout (579035) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @07:51AM (#5483538)
    Its all part of a cunning plot by cigarette man to put all the p0rn on the net someplace we cant get it.
    • by 6169 (318124)
      You know the Cigarette Man gets off on the kinky stuff. "Take it off...slowly...now tell me how weak the Flouride has made your will to resist. Tell me! Oh yea....that hits the spot."
  • by cipset (550887)
    Have you ever thought what if the internet would be 24h/24h under surveillence? If there would be only Msoft, Sonies, Hewlets all over our screen ... etc. etc.

    What if then we would start make our own network, with our own rules. The slashdotters and those alike are not few in this world, and I suppose a lot of us, if not most, got enough from rules over rules, comercial stuff, comercail stuff...

    A kind of OurNet... ;-) //yeah ... I know ... nice dreaming
  • by Highwayman (68808) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @08:04AM (#5483579)
    <rant> I have always been frustrated by the biggest technology issue facing the military or any large organization: deployment. The SIPRNET has been around for ages. However, in all the places I have been assigned, nobody at my level ever has access. This is ridiculous because I have always worked where the proverbial rubber meets the road. VPN, Fortezza cards, and all this is not new, nor revolutionary. The issue is plainly logistics, sustainment, and training. Logistics is an issue because you have to field the equipment. The government already runs scads of custom applications many requiring dedicated computers. If you are able to field the equipment, it will be very difficult to maintain and upgrade because the channels for doing so are often convoluted or repair facilities are hundreds of miles away. Sustainment is a pain because the military is not designed (for the most part) to be stationary. When a large deployment happens, you are lucky to have a telephone let alone Internet capability. Finally, training is always a big problem. Right now most users cannot even perform the most basic computer tasks. As it all revolves around dollars when it comes to manning and training, I find it hard to believe that enough is going to be vested in empowering the end user to have access or know-how. In the end, it will end up where all good ideas end up, only being used at levels above reality by people who already have access to all matter of secure everything. I don't see it getting to the end user any time in the near future. To me this is an operating system issue, if you don't ingrain this crap at the OS level, there is always going to be problems. From sensitive data left in the swap space, to unsecured file systems, and ineffective data destruction utilities, there are dozens of pitfalls for truly running a secure network. Throwing tons of third party applications on top of it is a huge mess. Secondly, the government has become over-reliant on using the Internet. At least for the military, occupations in fixed facilities should mirror operations in deployment situations. The only solution for the military is satellite or high frequency radio. Access to these solutions at the speeds necessary for Internet transactions is years away and very expensive. I won't believe a word of any of this until the Department of Defense stops using Telnet and other insecure software for their day to day business. Way too many personal transactions are conducted via Telnet un-tunneled and unsecured. I have seen this first hand many times and as recently as yesterday. I am tired of the good idea factory coming up with solutions from behind their $3000 dollar oak desks when at my level the IT and security is crap and my personal information is strewn all over who knows where.</rant>
    • >The SIPRNET has been around for ages

      True.

      >nobody at my level ever has access.

      What MOS? Generally, its for command staff, Intelligence personnel, and operations personnel. If you don't need it, you don't get it. Also, it requires a minimum Secret security clearance to use.
  • by MyNameIsFred (543994) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @08:06AM (#5483581)
    For all those saying I can't believe the Feds don't have a separate network -- golly gee yes they do and have had such separate networks for years. What the Feds are doing is auditing which systems are connected to which networks. If it was originally assumed that the public Internet was safe enough, those assumptions are being checked. If it is decided that those assumptions were wrong, that a system is threatened, it is moved to a private internet. Considering the size of the Federal government it should surprise no one that history, changes in the internet and other factors should justify such an audit. Its not like private companies don't do the same thing on occassion. The difference is this time politics are involved. Its a way to wave the flag and see we're doing something for homeland security. Three years ago, the press would have ignored this.
  • by 6169 (318124) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @08:23AM (#5483650)
    I notice in the article that the Feds et al. were notified of the sendmail security flaw before the official release. Um. Not that I have anything against the FBI perusing my pr0n collection (Leanna Hart -- Locker Room.avi is quite good if y'all are listening), but this scares the fuck out of me.

    Sachs, speaking at the conference here, which was put on by The SANS Institute, pointed to last week's handling of the critical vulnerability in the Sendmail Mail Transfer Agent package as a prime example of how such back-channel communication between vendors, researchers and the government can help protect end users. Researchers at Internet Security Systems Inc., in Atlanta, discovered the vulnerability in mid-February and immediately notified officials at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security.

    The government quietly spread the word among federal agencies and, along with ISS, began contacting the affected vendors. After the vendors developed patches, the fixes were deployed quickly on critical government, military and private-sector machines before the official announcement of the vulnerability.
    • As soon as I started to read the article, the phrase "used by federal experts and private-sector experts" jumped out at me! I immediately thought that this was another way for the US administration to use the indeterminate "war on terror" to fund private enterprise. I wonder who these experts will be, and I wonder why they feel the need to make the "private-sector" qualification as opposed to civilian! Is this really just a way for the US government to provide a secure network for US anti-virus and security companies to communicate in the event of a serious net attack and thus provide them with a competitive advantage in the market (as non-US companies will have to or already have built their own)?
  • The government currently has seven nodes running, said Marcus Sachs, director of communications infrastructure protection at the Office of Cyberspace Security, in Washington.

    Let me guess:
    192.168.0.1
    192.168.0.2
    192.168.0.3
    192.168.0.4
    192.168.0.5
    192.168.0.6
    192.168.0.7

  • Cyber Warning Information Network (CWIN) looks to be an expensive, slower, and less effective version of CERT [cert.org].

    These is the group that "handled" the recent announcement of a new sendmail vulrenability. Except what they did was this: ISS, a info-security company looking for browie points reported to Office of Cyberspace Security at the White House and Homeland Security, who told FedCERT which passed that along to military and federal government IT people. Except all they could do was turn off sendmail, since a fixed wasn't yet available!

    Then Sendmail (.com and .org sides, i.e. Eric Allman) and CERT was contacted. CERT alerted various Unix, Linux and BSD vendors that a new sendmail security fix was coming and to get ready to package it. Sendmail shared their fix with vendors and everyone announced a fix at roughly the same time. Thanks to the hard working people at CERT. Nobody played "I'm fixed, screw the rest of you" or other selfish self-centered games.

    So the DHS made three phone calls (or emails) and spent the rest of their time writing up press releases about their great job, so the "press release == news" media could spout how great and cyber-aware DHS is. Though ISS, Sendmail Inc./ Consortium, and CERT did all the real work.
  • isn't a private WAN such as this more susceptible to a "single point of failure" attack? Or have they thought of that?
    • Re:One problem (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bigsteve@dstc (140392)
      isn't a private WAN such as this more susceptible to a "single point of failure" attack?

      It will be less vulnerable because they will have mandated that communications use physically separate switching nodes paths. And you can be sure that they have thought about this.

  • by snowtigger (204757) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @08:48AM (#5483778) Homepage
    I talked to some computer people working in Swiss banks last year. It turned out they have a private network in parallel with the internet.

    Every worker has two computers. One for the bank stuff and the other for internet/ordinary stuff.

    The internal network has very limited connections to the internet (necessary web-banking connections, but not more). Don't count on Sendmail bugs to get you in here ...
  • Routers and security (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shreak (248275) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @09:01AM (#5483841)
    I heard a story few years ago while taking a networks training course. We were talking about packet order and the fact that it's not guaranteed. The instructor mentioned that you could probably expect the order to be maintained if you specified the route and were the only thing transmitting, but still, it is not guaranteed.

    Someone in the class had worked on a secure network project where all the routes were static, but when they did load testing the packets would arrive out of order. This worried them (as it should) and they looked into it. It turned out that the routers (switches?) they were using would "cheat" when they detected backup and would send packets to ports off the static routes.

    The exptected behavior was that the receiver would bounce the packet back as destination unknown. But this could buy the equipment precious milliseconds and the conjestion might clear.

    A cute solution, but not very secure.
  • Will this be an extention to SIPERNET or a new network?

    Hope they use IPv6, that way you also get the ecomomy rolling. New OS, new Routers...

    (I Know modern OS and Cisco 12.2 IOS run IPv6, but most gov router still run IOS 9.x and the DoD will not allow Win2000 Active Directory on Servers.)
  • The last time the feds had a LAN party, a bunch of undesirables came and took it over for themselves. I wonder what will happen this time?
  • They already have it. Existence of SIPRNET(Secret Internet Protocol Router Network) is unclassified. This isn't really news, so they are building another one? Big deal.
  • by jd (1658)
    • The DoD wasted it's time, developing an IPSec implementation
    • That NASA (which already has a private network) is further ahead than the rest of the Public Sector, for once
    • That projects, such as Internet 2, which date back over a decade, were ignored by system architects in charge of US national security
    • That the Federal Government is oblivious to the fact that IP is not good for point-to-point, which is why ATM is typically used for that instead
    • That the Federal Government is relying on burying cables deep enough, rather than using secure methods for transferring data
    • Or that our beloved leaders are a bunch of idiots, when it comes to computers (or anything else)?


  • by blair1q (305137) on Tuesday March 11, 2003 @12:34PM (#5485568) Journal
    And then we'll be able to see what John Aschroft really thinks about naked statuary pr0n.
  • And I quote:


    "The Cyber Warning Information Network, a key part of the Bush administration's National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, will use a secure, private IP network separate from the public Internet, according to officials.


    umm.. if it's a completely separate network from the internet.. how is it going to have ANY effect whatsoever? I mean they won't even be able to look at what's out there! Am i missing something here?
    • It'll be a tiny little piece of Cyber-Heaven.

      It looks like they think the WWW is too worldly and too wide. They could choose to just phone in the next Red Alert. Or use radio. Or homing pigeons.

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