US nukes controlled by ancient computers

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drcoolmor
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US nukes controlled by ancient computers

Post by drcoolmor » May 30th 2016 - 2:20 am

A hacker explains why US nukes controlled by ancient computers is actually a good thing.

A new government report on Wednesday revealed that America's nukes are still being controlled by antique computers with 8 inch floppy disks, but a former white-hat hacker says that's not necessarily a bad thing.

"The biggest security issue here isn't that the computer is 40 years old, but rather the quality of the lock on the door where the computer is housed," Cris Thomas, a strategist for Tenable Network Security, said in a statement.

Thomas, known in hacker circles by his pseudonym, Space Rogue, was one of the founding members of the legendary hacker collective L0pht. The group famously testified to the US Senate in 1998 that it could take down the internet in 30 minutes.

Interestingly, the nuclear arsenal running on decades-old computers with floppy disks makes it incredibly difficult to hack, a fact that some in the Air Force actually used as an example of why upgrading isn't really necessary.

Thomas said that the IBM Series/1 computer the Pentagon is using to control nukes is most likely air-gapped — meaning it's not connected to the internet or a network that would give remote access — so a hacker would need to be sitting at the terminal to actually do any damage.

He also said the machines are "notoriously reliable" and he wasn't surprised they was still being used.

"As long as they can make regular copies of the software on the 8 inch floppies so that they don't degrade, and they have a ready supply of spare parts and new floppies, there's no reason why the system wouldn't last another 40 years," he said.

There is a caveat: While an outdated machine would make it hard for hackers, it also makes it hard to fix things if something goes wrong, since the coding languages it uses are aging as well. Fewer programmers are around who even know COBOL or FORTRAN, he explained.

Regardless, the report noted that the DoD plans to update "data storage solutions, port expansion processors, portable terminals, and desktop terminals by the end of fiscal year 2017."
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Re: US nukes controlled by ancient computers

Post by 0xA110C » May 30th 2016 - 11:41 pm

I'm sure there are quite a few people who can help. Programming languages don't die. I'm not sure I would be comfortable with that responsibility, though. What if my software has a bug that f*ck shit up?!
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Re: US nukes controlled by ancient computers

Post by dcyel » May 30th 2016 - 11:50 pm

World war III perhaps ? And with such a huge defense budget the US has this is almost unthinkable.
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Re: US nukes controlled by ancient computers

Post by Pg9 » May 31st 2016 - 2:42 am

drcoolmor wrote:... Fewer programmers are around who even know COBOL or FORTRAN, he explained. ...
I knew COBOL. :embarrased:
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Re: US nukes controlled by ancient computers

Post by 0xA110C » May 31st 2016 - 9:35 pm

Pg9 wrote:I knew COBOL. :embarrased:
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Re: US nukes controlled by ancient computers

Post by hrmwrm » June 1st 2016 - 3:26 am

well, what was the old timex sinclair? would that have been machine code?
that was the only programming i ever did. forgot everything about it too. :lol1:

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Re: US nukes controlled by ancient computers

Post by 0xA110C » June 1st 2016 - 3:36 am

hrmwrm wrote:well, what was the old timex sinclair? would that have been machine code?
that was the only programming i ever did. forgot everything about it too. :lol1:
It had like most other operating systems at that time a BASIC interpreter built-in, but could as well have been assembly (you'd have to work with registers and memory with BASIC anyway).

It was awesome being able to boot up and program right away!
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Re: US nukes controlled by ancient computers

Post by hrmwrm » June 1st 2016 - 6:04 am

probably basic. lotta < > goto, plot, =, and a lot more that isn't on this keyboard. :lol1:
it was interesting and fun. i was late teens/early twenties. very early 20's.
probably should have gone back to school and took it up.
from inputting programs from some small books to it i learned the language and how to make my own little things.
who knew what computers would do 14 years later. (I'm thinking about 1981 or so)
that was the end of my computer time until about 1998, when we got one with win 98 on it, and i was unleashed on the net. :lol1: :hippy:

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