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Post I.T. {vbar}
Sunday, July 29, 2007

Post I.T. {vbar}P2P Alert

Members of Congress said last week that peer-to-peer file-sharing software can pose a national security threat.

Sensitive or classified documents -- military orders, terrorist threat assessments, accounting documents, tax returns, medical records and more -- could fall into the wrong hands if government employees who install file-sharing software on their computers aren't careful about what they share. According to a CNET report, Mark Gorton, chairman of Lime Wire, a maker of the software, was told at a hearing last week that his company could face legal liability if his product allowed an individual's income tax return to get onto the Internet without the person's authorization.

In a posting last week, Mike Masnick, a contributing blogger for TechDirt, wondered why file-sharing system providers should take the blame for the ill-advised actions of government employees and politicians. "This is yet another case where politicians want to regulate a technology they don't understand," he wrote.

-- Sam Diaz

Government Inc. {vbar}Security Breach

SAIC, the federal contracting giant, last week fessed up to a potential security breach involving personal information about hundreds of thousands of people in the military and their families.

The company said in a press release that it was processing health-care data for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Department of Homeland Security. The records were stored on a company computer that was apparently linked to the Internet but not secured from intruders. In some cases, the information was transmitted over the Internet without the use of encryption to protect it from prying eyes.

About 870,000 service members and their families will be told before long that it does not appear that their information was inappropriately obtained or used by outsiders. But they'll also be told that "the possibility cannot be ruled out."

SAIC Chairman Ken Dahlberg offered a "personal apology" for the lapse. He also said that a number of SAIC employees were "placed on administrative leave" pending the outcome of an internal probe.

"It is completely unacceptable," he said of the breach. "We did not live up to the high level of performance that our customers have learned to expect and demand from us."

-- Robert O'Harrow

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