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The Military Data Storage Media

US Nuclear Missile Silos Use Safe, Secure 8" Floppy Disks 481

Posted by timothy
from the not-the-onion dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Sean Gallagher writes that the government built facilities for the Minuteman missiles in the 1960s and 1970s and although the missiles have been upgraded numerous times to make them safer and more reliable, the bases themselves haven't changed much and there isn't a lot of incentive to upgrade them. ICBM forces commander Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein told Leslie Stahl from "60 Minutes" that the bases have extremely tight IT and cyber security, because they're not Internet-connected and they use such old hardware and software. "A few years ago we did a complete analysis of our entire network," says Weinstein. "Cyber engineers found out that the system is extremely safe and extremely secure in the way it's developed." While on the base, missileers showed Stahl the 8-inch floppy disks, marked "Top Secret," which is used with the computer that handles what was once called the Strategic Air Command Digital Network (SACDIN), a communication system that delivers launch commands to US missile forces. Later, in an interview with Weinstein, Stahl described the disk she was shown as "gigantic," and said she had never seen one that big. Weinstein explained, "Those older systems provide us some, I will say, huge safety, when it comes to some cyber issues that we currently have in the world.""
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US Nuclear Missile Silos Use Safe, Secure 8" Floppy Disks

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  • by lowen (10529) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @10:27AM (#46867805)

    Yes, there are. I have one, and a Catweasel controller that can read and write basically any format on it.

    The 8 inch standard format is very similar to the 1.2MB 5.25 inch format. Actually, it's the other way around, as when IBM built the PC AT and the high-density drives for it they apparently intentionally made the formats nearly identical. They're so close that computers that use 8 inch diskettes can typically be modified to run with 1.2MB HD 5.25 drives and media with only a new controller to drive cable and new drive power supply (8 inch drives typically take either AC mains power to run the spindle or 24VDC, and 5.25 drives take 12VDC to run the spindle). See http://nemesis.lonestar.org/co... [lonestar.org] for some tech info on how to do this with one of the first multiuser 'personal' computers, the Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 16 (and descendents the 16B and the 6000). Also see http://www.dbit.com/fdadap.htm... [dbit.com] for the 'proper' adapter board.

    8 inch diskettes are famously reliable with good quality media, and the bits aren't packed so densely that an EMP event will wipe them out, as long as they're in a faraday cage with sufficient attenuation and power handling capacity.

    Current production high-density PC FDC's can easily handle the 8 inch drive with the proper adapter cable, but the number of supported formats is small. More flexible is the USB interfaced Kryoflux, and the PCI Catweasel MK3 and MK4 (the Kryoflux is currently in production and available for purchase; the Catweasels have been out of production for a while and are a bit difficult to obtain last I checked; I bought my MK4 from amigakit.com, but they appear to only have the Amiga-specific MK2's in stock.

  • by Collective 0-0009 (1294662) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @11:18AM (#46868363)
    I used to work for SAC, specifically on SACDIN. I was a programmer for the system, but turned into network admin when they told us to complete the air gap and setup an offline network just for the source code, testing and administration of the system. I am not sure how much I am allowed to say, as my security clearance restricts me for like 75 years or something. But since most of what I will tell you can already be found here: http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/... [fas.org], I figure I won't get a knock on the door.

    SACCS and SACDIN are nearly the same, often interchanged in terminology. Most of us called it SACCS. We were the BALLS. That kind of stuff went on and on... it never got old.

    The systems are not nearly as outdated as you think. The endpoints are old, but the stuff in the middle is much newer. The code is reviewed every 6 months. There is probably code in there from the 60's, but it has been reviewed hundreds of times. There is new stuff and changes all the time.

    There are modern computers that the programmers code with. There are modern computers in the links from SAC to silo. They are hardended and locked down, but let's be honest, the airmen have physical access. That's why you need a clearance just to touch the computers that make the code that runs the network.

    That's all I have to say about that.

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