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Media Canada Data Storage Security IT Idle

Canadian Spying Case Proves Floppy Drive Isn't Dead Yet 148

Posted by timothy
from the who-spies-on-canada?! dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The details of a Canadian spying case are coming to light, including the method of copying the sensitive data from the 'secured' computer linking five countries and the Russian handlers: Copy Data into Notepad; Save File to Floppy Drive; USB Key; ???; Profit! For $3000/mo in prepaid credit cards and wire transfers."
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Canadian Spying Case Proves Floppy Drive Isn't Dead Yet

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  • Because the floppy drive was used once, suddenly it's not a dead technology?
    • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by flyingsquid (813711) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @11:08AM (#41619539)
      The internet has definitely changed the espionage game. If you think about it, the entire premise of Star Wars falls apart completely in an internet society. The movie starts out with Vader trying to recover the plans for the Death Star which are stored on R2D2, and then the entire middle of the movie involves trying to physically transport R2 to the Rebels to allow them to stage an attack. If the Empire had internet, then the rebel spies would have just uploaded the plans for the Death Star to the Rebel Alliance, and you'd skip straight to the final scene of the movie.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        It was the best SneakerNet available. Probably the Empire would find any base station transmitting that far before it could finish. Plus we haven't exactly finished work on those deep-space FTL network, either.

      • Re:So... (Score:4, Funny)

        by jd2112 (1535857) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @11:37AM (#41619831)
        The AutoCAD file for the Death Star must have been humongous. Transmiting a file that large would have exceeded their data caps.
      • by jader3rd (2222716)

        If the Empire had internet, then the rebel spies would have just uploaded the plans for the Death Star to the Rebel Alliance, and you'd skip straight to the final scene of the movie.

        You're assuming a free and open internet (or holonet as described in the books), that wouldn't have been monitored by the Empire. With the Empire monitoring all communications a transfer of Death Start plans would have informed the Empire to the location of both the sender and the receiver.

      • They could have modulated the death star ray to transmit data.

        Perhaps they did and some idiot turned up the gain when transmitting a threat to Alderaan...
        • They could have modulated the death star ray to transmit data.

          Communication lasers (those used to transmit data over short distances like within a star system) are used regularly in SF over shorter distances (like a few dozen km) as weapons.
          Within those shorter distances, the beam is still powerful enough (read: not yet attenuated/diffracted so much) that it can cut through the hull of another ship (or melt the power-supply of a General Products hull)

      • Re:So... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @12:52PM (#41620523)


        I work with point clouds for scanning military vessels. That's what the data on the screen in Star Wars shows, point clouds.

        Each compartment IRL is a couple of GB of data. The Death star, assuming 1000 compartments, would require several Terabytes of point cloud information in order for it to be useful to the Alliance. We have trouble moving individual compartments around our 1000 Network and it's just easier to move stuff around on portable hard drives.

    • by PhotoJim (813785)

      Until there are 50-cent, rewritable at will and without hassle, flat storage media, floppy disks still have some utility. Obviously the utility is declining because of their limited capacity, but I still use 'em. I throw adequate-res photos of clients' property into their insurance files. Way faster and easier than burning an optical disc.

      USB flash drives are just as convenient, but they're still too pricey for some applications. If you could buy tens-of-megabyte thin, flat flash drives for tens of cent

      • Bulk USB drives can be had for as low as $1-$2 each. Which is about what 1.44MB floppy disks used to cost.

        SD and micro SD cards can be had for below $1 each.
      • I know several photographers that just use SD cards for this purpose. 1GB SD cards sell on amazon.com for literally 1 cent, and 16GB cards from respected brands like sandisk are only $5usd. You must be using really low res photos, even compressed jpg images from my somewhat outdated (and decidedly not professional grade) 12mp Nikon D90 are far too large to fit a single image on a floppy disk.
        • by PhotoJim (813785)

          They're low-res and perfectly adequate for our purposes. They're roughly 400 kB each in JPG format.

          The RAW files from my Nikon D800 are over 40 megabytes (even the JPGs are 11-12 MB), but we have no need for such resolution. The photos get viewed on a computer screen and that's it.

          The 1 GB SD cards (or even smaller) might do fine - I'll have a look on eBay.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 11, 2012 @10:51AM (#41619343)


    Effective immediately, all documents must be at least 1.46 MB in size.

    - The mgmt

    P.S. Nobody even THINK about installing PKZIP, k?

  • Almost all ways to peruse digital documents involve a copy to be done somewhere. That copy can be somehow defended against unwanted accesses. But if I am allowed to make a copy-of-the-copy, then security is gone: there's no way to defend the second level copy any more. It doesn't matter whether it's text, a picture, a map, a formula, an MP3 or a digital movie.
  • False flag? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Russ1642 (1087959) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @11:01AM (#41619473)
    Is it just me or does the author not know what false flag means?
  • by SilverJets (131916) on Thursday October 11, 2012 @11:22AM (#41619675) Homepage

    This piece of shit sold out my country for a lousy $3000 a month?

    • by TheCarp (96830)

      Meh, and your government probably paid people in other countries to do the same. Not a big deal really....everybody is doing it, then pretending to be surprized when it happens to them. Piece of shit? Only if people within the government work with equivalent shitbags elsewhere.

      Frankly, I don't care too much when people do the same to "my country". Damned government doesn't have our interests at heart anyway, why should I care what happens to them and their secrets? Not my problem.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Meh, and your government probably paid people in other countries to do the same.

        Actually, no. Canada does not have a spy agency that recruits spies in foreign countries.

        There is the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, https://www.csis.gc.ca/index-eng.asp [csis.gc.ca], and the much less well known Communications Security Establishment Canada, http://www.cse-cst.gc.ca/index-eng.html [cse-cst.gc.ca].

        The Communications Security Establishment is analogous to the US NSA. They gather signals intelligence & break codes.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Ask your MP how much his/her price is. It will be lower than you expect.

    • Harper's selling us out for $26k a month. Is that a better amount?

    • by jbr439 (214107)

      This piece of shit sold out my country for a lousy $3000 a month?

      That was my reaction when I saw the news last night.

  • All my sensitive files are exactly 1.45MB.

    • by OAB_X (818333)

      Or the CBC is internally inconsistent and can't figure out if he used a floppy drive, thumb drive or both.

    • by sackbut (1922510)
      It is also interesting that supposedly he did not actually transmit the data he stole directly to his handlers. He would write a synopsis (mostly about Russian mobsters) and send that via email. It couldn't have been that much raw data, unless the data itself was somehow detectable in an email or attachment via CSE or NSA.
  • Gross negligence on behalf of the tech staff. Disabling ports and drives is basic level security stuff.

Technology is dominated by those who manage what they do not understand.