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Air Force Aims for Control of 'Any and All' Computers 468

Noah Shachtman on's Danger Room reports that Monday, the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson AFB introduced a two-year, $11 million effort to put together hardware and software tools for 'Dominant Cyber Offensive Engagement.' 'Of interest are any and all techniques to enable user and/or root level access,' a request for proposals notes, 'to both fixed (PC) or mobile computing platforms ... any and all operating systems, patch levels, applications and hardware.' This isn't just some computer science study, mind you; 'research efforts under this program are expected to result in complete functional capabilities.' The Air Force has already announced their desire to manage an offensive BotNet, comprised of unwitting participatory computers. How long before they slip a root kit on you?
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Air Force Aims for Control of 'Any and All' Computers

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  • new meme (Score:5, Funny)

    by isotope23 ( 210590 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:44PM (#23420908) Homepage Journal
    new meme -

    Imagine an AirWolf cluster of these......
    • Re:new meme (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:16PM (#23421584)
      Since we're talking about the military, shouldn't it be, "Imagine a clusterfuck of these"?
  • Hmmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) * <.Satanicpuppy. .at.> on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:45PM (#23420924) Journal
    Sounds like the Air Force already has an overabundance of tools working for it.

    Tools? Seriously? Any toolset is going to have to be constantly adaptable, and is going to fall victim to the same problem as all other computer security stuff: it's obsolete almost as soon as its written.

    They'd be better building a strong infrastructure, and recruiting top talent than trying to build some kind of software package, presumably to be manned by some kind of enlisted man script kiddie.

    Even then, they're going to get the same kind of penetration as everyone else. 20%, 30% maybe, on a good day. You can't even rely on vendors to insert backdoors; the best choice for that would be microsoft, and adding a backdoor to Windows would be redundant in most cases.
    • Re:Hmmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Lord_Frederick ( 642312 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:56PM (#23421138)
      Actually, recruiting top talent may be the end goal of this and the botnet announcement. The best people in this field will go where they can work on interesting things. Everyone is figuring out you can't do what they want with the money they are budgeting, so I suspect this is all for PR. Get everyone to associate the Air Force with high speed high tech computer hacking and security so that they have a better image for hiring. On the other hand, this could be the Air Force grasping at anything to make them look relevant while the Army and Marine Corps are getting all the attention in the current war.
      • by wasted ( 94866 )

        ...Get everyone to associate the Air Force with high speed high tech computer hacking and security so that they have a better image for hiring...

        I think they are going about it the wrong way. By throwing around buzzwords for the sake of doing so, those who actually have a clue will avoid them like the Jar Jar Binks show.

        The Air Force Cyber Command [] has already shown that it lacks original thought in its choice of a command patch [], which hasn't pleased everyone []. I'm beginning to think that the USAF just need

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Opportunist ( 166417 )
        Bluntly, if I was into writing botnets instead of fighting them, I'd rather go for one of the "underground" businesses than the Air Force. I don't know how much the Air Force pays, but the pay is better in the "underground". I'm a crook in either case, so the moral angle doesn't matter.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by samantha ( 68231 ) *
      You are presumably aware of the number of PCs that are infected already if not already useable in bot nets. You are presumably aware of the number of vulnerabilities extant. Thus how can you imply that a full legal assault by the military will fail so miserably as to not be worth even worrying about?

      Whether they succeed on not the implied precedence is that the government has the right to take over your "extended mindspace" whenever they jolly well feel like it.
  • by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:46PM (#23420932)
    This must be the ultimate example of "solutions" to engineering problems coming from a manager and not an engineer. I bet they'd like a pony while they're at it.

    You know they'll get what they want out of commercial OSs by putting pressure on the vendors. Linux and the BSDs are too much of a moving target, and OpenBSD is run out of Canada anyway. If ever there was an article that needed to be tagged 'goodluckwiththat,' this would be it.
    • by bennomatic ( 691188 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:56PM (#23421136) Homepage
      I love your "pony" comment. A couple of months ago, I was on a conference call with a client, a large defense contractor whose name sounds like it might refer to a hole in the ground where sweet, sticky bee-made syrup comes from, and I used that line. They said, "We would like to see X and Y done by Z date," and I said, "I understand, and similarly, I would very much like a pony."

      My boss called me two seconds after the conf call ended. Since I saw the caller ID, I knew what was coming, and I answered the phone, "Was that inappropriate?" "Yes," was the answer, "but very funny. Don't do it again."
    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @04:02PM (#23423558)
      Dead on.

      It's pretty much the same as in some European countries, where they try to create some sort of "cop trojans" for eavesdropping on suspects. They just heard how effective those bots and trojans are for the criminals and want the same efficiency for themselves.

      Yes, botnets are hell of efficient in bringing down a network. Yes, trojans enable you to control your victim's computer. What they do not realize in either case is that the efficiency comes from liberal shotgun application of the infection. You spread your malware a billion times, it gets looked at a million times, it gets installed a thousand times.

      In the case of the "copper trojan" it won't work because the chance to actually infect a machine is so minimal that it won't warrant the necessary expense (not to mention that it's far more likly to warn your suspect rather than get you any information). In the case of an "Air Force botnet", the fallout from negative PR is certainly going to do more damage than good.

      Both problems don't apply to the criminals. Why should a botnetter care that nobody in the US likes him? Why should a phisher care whether he infects a certain machine?

      And that's what our representatives (and military brickheads) don't get. Using criminal tactics first of all doesn't work. And second, resorting to the same tactics criminals use gives you really, really bad press.
  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:47PM (#23420956) Journal
    I'd say this was as illegal an idea as malicious botnets. My computer cpu cycles are NOT for sale to the US Government, or any government. They can have them when they pry them from my dead cold pc case...

    • by HappySmileMan ( 1088123 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:51PM (#23421038)
      Or when Microsoft and Apple crumble and are forced to insert backdoors (I say "forced", because as sceptical as I am, I don't WANT to believe that they'd do it willingly, even if it is the case)...

      Problem is (for them, not us), after this, any commits made to Linux or BSD or anything that don't seem to add anything, make unnecessary use of network commands or seem in any way unsafe will be set upon by every tinfoil hat freak out there, same with new contributors, so they'll have a really hard time doing this.
      • by lkcl ( 517947 ) <> on Thursday May 15, 2008 @05:39PM (#23425034) Homepage
        not at all - it will go into the CPUs.

        accidental downloading of large bits of "spam" will contain encrypted data which, when the CPU notices that the network interfaces (or the nearby electro-magnetic spectrum) are blipping up-and-down in some not-exactly-random pattern, begins to interpret the SPAM (or EM noise) in some morse-code-like way that activates the CPU to "phone home".

        suddenly all the DRM in your hard drive and motherboard which is normally used for DMCA coercion, gets activated for other purposes.

        given that the encryption in the DRM is at a level higher than the highest level specified by the DoD for ultra-top-secret material, it will of course be perfect for taking over your computer.

        overall i wish i was entirely joking about this, but it unfortunately makes far too cohesive a story.

        let's call it a joke, anyway. ha ha.
    • by Gat0r30y ( 957941 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:58PM (#23421198) Homepage Journal
      Moreover this is a monumentally idiotic idea -
      1) there is virtually 0 chance of implimentation
      2) there are too many people out here who are smart enough to code there way out of anything the AirForce might attempt to implement
      3) just how do they plan on getting root access to my box? I mean honestly - 11 Million dollars isn't going to cover the cost of getting to root on my little home computer - how precisely do they plan on getting root on every single server and home PC?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jellomizer ( 103300 )
        Yea it sounds like something to make people more afraid that they can vs. actually do. DAMNIT MY PDP 11 Just hacked into... And it wasn't even on or hooked up to a network!
    • by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:00PM (#23421256) Journal
      I hope I catch the USAF inside MY computer. The civil rights suit will be worth millions, when I retire I'll retire in comfort instead of poverty.

      In fact I think I'll set up a honeypot just for them. Bastards got 4 years of my life, they're NOT welcome to the contents of my computer. Like you said, it is illegal for them to do so, and whatever lawless nutcake Colonel that thought up this outrage should be court-martialed and sent to Leavenworth [].
    • 3rd Amendment fun? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:11PM (#23421472)
      Chances are that they'll want to try to compromise foreign systems and not US systems to use in a botnet to avoid legal liability within the country.

      Humorously, I could see a lawsuit from this opening up the door for the first expansion of the 3rd Amendment since Engblom v. Carey [] if they did compromise the machines of US citizens to use in an offensive botnet. Arguably being forced to host Air Force activities on your private property violates the same kinds of rights that the 3rd Amendment protects.

      The Second Circuit said:

      [W]e hold that property-based privacy interests protected by the Third Amendment are not limited solely to those arising out of fee simple ownership [of homes] but extend to those recognized and permitted by society as founded on lawful occupation or possession with a legal right to exclude others.
      The court was talking about state-owned rental properties where striking prison guards were evicted and replaced with National Guardsmen, but I can see an argument for extending this to being forced to host Air Force use of one's chattels within a home (or maybe even outside of a home since the same possessory "right to exclude others" exists). I don't see Scalia or Thomas buying the argument, but it would be fun to watch someone try and argue it before the rest of the court.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dreamchaser ( 49529 )
      It is FAR more likely that they would target PC's outside of the US, to avoid possible legal action.

      Also, for all of the inevitable "They'd never be able to pwn MY PC" post here, please stop thinking that typical /. users are typical PC users. Most people have no clue and would be readily infected. We are a very tiny minority of the PC userbase.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lkcl ( 517947 )
        "It is FAR more likely that they would target PC's outside of the US, to avoid possible legal action."

        which immediately makes the host countries "complicit" with the efforts of the united states, thus making them legitimate targets as well.

        which, in the case of a wartime situation, would arguably make them justifiably _real_ targets as well.

        overall this is a monumentally fucking stupid idea of the united states air force, at every single level, in every single possible way, without exception and without any
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bill_kress ( 99356 )
      Is that more illegal than torture or less?
    • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @04:18PM (#23423816)

      My computer cpu cycles are NOT for sale to the US Government, or any government.

      They aren't buying your machine, they're drafting it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Liquidrage ( 640463 )
      And when you're dead because your military couldn't defend you, the other nation that just "owned" your nation will pry it out of your hands.

      Like it or not, the US has been pretty benevolent for a lone super power. Yes, you can point to Iraq where the US toppled a longstanding dictator that really was "evil". Sure, but that's about as bad as it gets less you go back a few 100 years to the native Americans. There are lesser evils the US has done, like some issues with South American governments. And more.
  • by mckinnsb ( 984522 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:49PM (#23421002)
    Establishing total and completely control across all hardware and operating systems, all patch levels, etc?

    I admire your optimism, USAF, but $11 million dollars is simply not going to make that happen -if it can even be done. Software companies have enough trouble just getting their *own* software to work installed on *willing systems*, and some of the bigger ones spend that kind of money just getting it to work on one operating system withing a reasonable set of constraints.

    Take into account the fact that you will also be most likely using pre-existing exploits, which will be repaired swiftly by responsible developers that watch security RSS feeds, and this is a red herring task. If you are talking about spending 11 million dollars on doing your own research towards establishing remote control by examining source code or reverse engineering to find new exploits, then honestly, you aren't just crazy- you are batshit crazy. You're going to need a whole hell of a lot of money to do that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ACMENEWSLLC ( 940904 )
      >>>Take into account the fact that you will also be most likely using pre-existing exploits, which will be repaired swiftly by responsible developers that watch security RSS feeds, and this is a red herring task

      I am less pessimistic. WMF files were exploitable for what? 11 years before it was leaked? JPG files via Quicktime for years. Excel exploits that were not fixed for years. Just becauase a vulnerability was discovered on the 1st and patched on the 20th doesn't mean it only existed for 20
      • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @03:01PM (#23422470) Homepage
        This also leads me to wondering whether they would then push to make the publication of vulnerability information equivalent to publishing military secrets. After all, if they are using exploit X to gain access to systems and you've now told the world about exploit X, you've just revealed important, classified military information to the public. Security researchers simply trying to help people keep their systems secure could wind up running afoul of the US military.
    • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Thursday May 15, 2008 @04:08PM (#23423668) Homepage Journal
      Current work on Linux per-process capabilities, role-based access controls and mandatory access controls may render the concept of "root" or a "superuser" under Linux obsolete. What would you need such a user account for? But if there is no superuser, in the traditional sense of the term, then there is no account on the system that would grant the air force (or anyone else) total control of that system. Control would be properly segmented and independently managed, limiting the value of such an attack. Well, it would need to be via the kernel, if no user had those access rights, and it would need to be via a user that could load things into the kernel, and it would need to make use of some exploitable kernel bug that bypassed the security modules.
  • by Enlarged to Show Tex ( 911413 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:49PM (#23421006)
    The internet is said to route around censorship; however, you don't need to censor the internet if you can pwn the world's PCs.

    At first glance, it seems that this would easier to do by simply mandating government backdoors in all operating systems. Wait. Not only does a legislative fix not work work for FOSS, it's also likely to start a tremendous uproar until you show enough people a video of Britney Spears's latest car accident...
  • by bugnuts ( 94678 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:49PM (#23421010) Journal
    ... is a taxpayer money sink.

    Over time, systems change. That means after this two-year study and eleventy-million dollars later, it's worth very little a year down the road. In three years, we're virtually guaranteed to have nothing for the efforts, except a statement saying "Oh, we learned a lot, and now need continuing funding. Please give us more money."

    Although many holes in software exist for a long time, they are generally patched within a couple months once discovered, usually sooner. And as soon as the military activates one of these holes, it'll be analyzed and patched. That will remove one of their finite resources.

    100% control of all platforms and systems is beyond ludicrous. They might as well wish they could read minds, teleport, and find Carmen Sandiego. Or at least Osama.

    • by powerlord ( 28156 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:11PM (#23421482) Journal
      I disagree.

      Usually the types of holes stay consistent, and a hole can go unnoticed for quite a while (take a look at the recent Debian issue).

      Yes, this is the sort of thing that needs to evolve over time, but even then, the computers you want to compromise may not have the latest patches and updates (may not be in the position to get them, may not be undergoing regular maintenance, may be deemed to critical to risk on untested patches leaving them vulnerable which the patches are tested, or the company may have simply EOL the OS/software and there may be no patch to get).

      If you were right, and all holes were patched and fixed, leaving computers invulnerable, then there wouldn't be a problem today with malicious botnets being used to send spam, perform DDoS attacks, and for use in Phishing and other Fraud/Identity theft schemes.
  • by Jafafa Hots ( 580169 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:49PM (#23421012) Homepage Journal
    it would be unethical!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sm62704 ( 957197 )
      "Ethics" is a set of rules followed by a given profession. Medical ethics, for instance, forbid doctors from telling Joe about Jane's surgery, while if you know about Jane's surgery you are under no such ethical obligation.

      Military ethics are written by the military. If their code of ethics says it's OK to drop napalm on civilians (as the ethics were during Vietnam) than it is not unethical to drop napalm on civilian villages, even though it is certainly immoral by any moral standard I've ever heard.
  • my fear ..... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Brigadier ( 12956 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:50PM (#23421014)

    You know my fear is when I wake up one day and my cable, phones, and internet doesn't work because the US and some nerd terrorist group are caught up in some sort of cyber war. Knowing that war fair has finally started to use network assaults the same way they use stealth planes is really a sign of the times.

    We all know that the internet is not secure, we all fight to keep it open. I assure you the last day we freely browse to other country sites will be the day we get a news worthy terrorist botnet attack that shuts down the likes of teh red cross. and gives the government a chance to sever the cables that connect us to the rest of teh world and insert some sort of keyed routers that you need a passport ID to traverse.
  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:52PM (#23421062) Homepage Journal
    not to click on the DonaldRumsfeldNude.mpg.exe attachment in my inbox.
  • I bet when the military was studying psychic remote viewing and psychic assassination the project goal was for completely functional capabilities as well. How did that turn out? ;)
  • by Gat0r30y ( 957941 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:52PM (#23421072) Homepage Journal
    They are going to have to put in a chip in every single piece of hardware shipping out of every single manufacturer. That would be the only way to get something of this magnitude to work. Somehow I don't see all the manufactures and consumers getting on board with this. Any software solution to this would face too much trouble - I for one am not willing to let the government take cycles away for good or evil use. Its just not a good idea. 11 Million could probably go to better use elsewhere.
  • Yeah, sure. (Score:5, Funny)

    by atomicthumbs ( 824207 ) <> on Thursday May 15, 2008 @01:56PM (#23421144) Homepage
    Good luck hacking my laptop. It runs BeOS.
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:05PM (#23421354) Homepage Journal
    In the same speech in which Attorney General Mukasey lied about a fake "phonecall from Afghanistan" [] to con us into cowardly acceptance of amnesty for illegally wiretapping telcos (and the Bush officials who they did it for), Mukasey avoided denying that

    the Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable searches and seizures, did not apply to "domestic military operations" against terrorist threats.

    So the Air Force can do whatever the spooks (and their Bush crony masters) want, like fly surveillance drones, record and datamine us against satellite surveillance, and help the NSA filter every bit of our telecom.

    Because these people hate the Constitution. They hate our freedoms and rights the Constitution instructs them to protect. They hate us. Because we get in the way of business, which is to spend on war the maximum amount Americans can make or borrow.

    Feel safer?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 )
      Maybe it doesn't violate the 4th, but maybe the 3rd? After all, they don't want to search your computer, they want to quarter a virtual soldier.
  • $11m? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pseudorand ( 603231 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:07PM (#23421402)
    $11 Million. To hack every computer in the world. Which has to includes all the overhead of government salaries and equipment. I'm shaking in my boots.

    (Holds pinkey finger to corner of mouth) "One Million Dollars." (The one where he travels forward in time, not the one from the 60s.)
  • by trybywrench ( 584843 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:09PM (#23421446)
    Isn't there a law that says the government can't use the Armed Forces against us? Like isn't that the reason why the National Guard is called to stop riots and not like the Marines? If the Air Force is building a bot net that comprises American PC's then shouldn't that follow under the same law?
    • by esampson ( 223745 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @03:05PM (#23422562) Homepage

      You are probably thinking about the Posse Comitatus Act ( []). However what that act really prohibits is the use of military forces as peace officers within US borders. Hacking into citizen's machines to use them as part of a botnet wouldn't fall under that.

      A couple of people have brought up the Third Amendment ( []) which covers the quartering of soldiers in private homes. I am not a Constitutional lawyer but I'm guessing that doesn't really apply either in a strict literal sense or in the spirit of what the authors intended. The intent was purely in people being forced to quarter soldiers. There's no mention of whether or not the military has the right to seize assets they might need, which is closer to what they would be doing in this case.

      If I had to guess (and I would have to) I would think the Fifth Amendment ( []) is probably more applicable. Its final clause is "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation". Hacking your system and using CPU cycles and bandwidth without permission would seem to constitute at least a form of taking of my property. They may not physically take it but they take control of it and even though I get it back later the clause doesn't say it's ok for them to take property as long as they bring it back.

  • Heh. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Richard Steiner ( 1585 ) <> on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:12PM (#23421508) Homepage Journal
    Time to set up my boxes to reboot every day from LiveCDs. That'll show 'em. :-)
  • you don't defeat your enemies by engaging in their tactics. that just makes you the moral equivalent of your enemy, thereby nullifying any moral high ground you claim to have, thereby nullifying any reason any citizen of your country or ally of your country would side with you
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Our moral high ground is low enough right now that an official botnet wouldn't lower it much.

      I'm against it mostly because I think it's just a foolish waste of money that will only breed ill-will and accomplish nothing, or next to nothing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You forgot to clarify that the tactics in question must be immoral.

      Certainly you want to copy your enemy if the tactic is say, 'duck!'
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by inviolet ( 797804 )

      you don't defeat your enemies by engaging in their tactics. that just makes you the moral equivalent of your enemy, thereby nullifying any moral high ground you claim to have, thereby nullifying any reason any citizen of your country or ally of your country would side with you

      The putative "high ground" you would have us claim here is: "We do not dabble in cyber hacking." If we take that position, and fancy ourselves morally superior for doing so, then the next (and inevitable) cyberwar will be over very v

      • sun tzu would have appreciated the wisdom of not engaging in tactics which win you the battle but lose you the war

        the battle of course, is abstract. it is the battle for the hearts and minds of the people in your country and other countries. so if you invalidate the cause you fight for, what have you won?

        it is not good enough to merely dominate in all matter of physical warfare. you must also dominate in ideological warfare. and ideological warfare is not about media manipulation or propaganda. it is about simply picking a cause to stand for and adhering to it

        if the people don't believe in what you are fighting for, then your physical military efforts are pointless. likewise, if the people do believe in what you are fighting for, then your enemy can achieve stunning battlefield dominance, and yet it all of their gains will fade over time. you have to ask yourself what the point of war is. is war merely a shoving match over physical turf? on one level it is, but it involves the values of the societies fighting over that turf as well. the groups that achieve physical military dominance and solidify their gains over time, are the ones that fight for values that actually have greater staying power than their enemy's. so the only lasting victories are the ones that actually stand for something

        i am not in any way failing to understand traditional military wisdom. but i will suggest to you that my pov might have a better understanding of traditional military wisdom
  • by ahow628 ( 1290052 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:15PM (#23421570) Homepage
    Good thing the Galactica isn't networked!
  • by RJCantrell ( 1290054 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:19PM (#23421648)
    The third amendment to the US Constitution reads: "No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law." This idea is so important that the founders put it in before trial by jury or cruel and unusual punishment. Aside from the "because we said so" Bush regime's retorts, is there any way that involuntary botnet participation could be even slightly legal?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ErikZ ( 55491 ) *
      Yeah. A program isn't "A soldier" and unless you're a AI, you don't live in your computer.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:19PM (#23421652)
    The land of the free: where nothing is. But you're free to blog about it unless your voice is heard too clearly by the majority of blockheads.

    How many marijuana spotting drones are YOUR tax dollars paying for today?

    Your country is closer to Communist China's philosophies than you think, but you're too busy working and consuming to care.

    Rise, Bill Hicks, Rise from your grave! We have no one like Hicks or John Lennon to rally and speak to the people. SLAVES!
  • From experience... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:22PM (#23421724)
    I've worked at an Air Force Research Laboratory for the past 3 years. I can guarantee you nothing will come of this, it is a giant waste of taxpayer dollars, and no one should be worried about their privacy (just their pocket books).

    Now the previous comments about them spending $11m and then 3 years later asking for $11m is close but also wrong. They will ask for at least double that, every 3 years (take a look at their POMs in the future), indefinitely...
  • by Crudely_Indecent ( 739699 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:26PM (#23421796) Journal
    If I'm not mistaken, the 3rd and 4th in the Bill of Rights should prevent this.

    3rd:prohibits the government from using private homes as quarters for soldiers without the consent of the owners.

    4th:guards against searches, arrests, and seizures of property without a specific warrant or a "probable cause" to believe a crime has been committed.
  • by fyrie ( 604735 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @02:46PM (#23422172)
    I have a C64 connected to the internet. Have at it.
  • by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @03:55PM (#23423434) Homepage
    Under the Computer Misuse Act, you'd be breaking the law, even if you *are* the US Air Force.

    Legal papers or lead? Your choice...
  • by CodeBuster ( 516420 ) on Thursday May 15, 2008 @04:25PM (#23423904)

    This whole Air Force concept speaks to a larger issue or misconception within our society, particularly among non-IT professionals, that it is somehow possible for technology to be available for use by the "good guys" and yet not also available for use by the "bad guys". There was a similar case (sorry have no citation) where a senator expressed the viewpoint that copyright holders should have the capability to remotely "break in" to any computer system and "destroy it" once they have shown to a judge, perhaps through some warrant processes, that it contains their copyrighted materials (of course nothing was mentioned about how this would be achieved or even could be achieved in practice). If we want the benefits of a secure operating system and strong encryption then we must also be willing to accept the possibility that such tools might be used against us, but in such cases it is wise to remember the words of one of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, who said that, "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

  • Frankly, this kind of crap is what you'd expect the CIA and NSA to do, not the Air Force. The Air Force's job is to make things explode, not go snooping around in other people's computers.

    But if there's one thing that armed services habitually put more effort in to than preparing for war, it's engaging in bureaucratic cold wars between themselves. And if one branch of the US government puts their hand up to do "cyber-war", you can bet your bottom dollar that half a dozen others will want a piece of it too.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson