Blown To Bits

“Peer to Peer” Sometimes Means “Defense Contractor to Iran”

Sunday, March 1st, 2009 by Harry Lewis

Someone working for a defense contractor in Bethesda, Maryland did what millions of teenagers do — he installed a peer-to-peer filesharing program on his computer so he could share and download music. He evidently was unaware that the same permission that allows computers elsewhere to reach into his computer and take copies of songs also allows those computers to reach in and take other files stored on his computer. Such as, for example,¬†engineering and communications information about Marine One, President Obama’s helicopter, which turned up on a computer with an IP address locating it in Teheran, Iran. Oops! The story goes on to explain,

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, an adviser to Tiversa [the company that made the discovery], said the company discovered exactly which computer the information came from. “I’m sure that person is embarrassed and may even lose their job, but we know where it came from and we know where it went.”

Well, General Clark may be half-right there; no doubt they identified the source. But who knows where else that information now is? Once it’s out there, there is no taking it back.

The bad guys are out there, just checking who’s left the back door unlocked. I doubt this computer in Bethesda is the only one.

Thanks for the tip to my colleague Matt Welsh, who is, by the way, running his own blog. The most recent item is about his experience of blowing his music to bits — that is, freeing his music collection from the plastic CDs that used to contain it.

One Response to ““Peer to Peer” Sometimes Means “Defense Contractor to Iran””

  1. allan Says:

    Eric Johnson at Dartmouth has done some work with Tiversa getting a better picture of what information is out there: