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Nuclear Program's Floppy Disks From 1970s Are Security Risk, Cost Burden

Image: Nuclear Program's Floppy Disks From 1970s Are Security Risk, Cost Burden
Ever seen one of these? The Strategic Automated Command and Control System for U.S. nuclear weapons at the Department of Defense still uses them. (GAO.gov)

By    |   Friday, 27 May 2016 11:23 AM

America's nuclear weapons program still depends on floppy disks from the 1970s to coordinate key strategic forces, including bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles, stated a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

The Washington Post reported that the floppy disks help operate the Strategic Automated Command and Control System, a critical communications network that is used for issuing orders to commanders, as well as intelligence sharing.

"And in order to use the floppy disks, the military must also maintain a collection of IBM Series/1 computers that to most people would look more at home in a museum than in a missile silo," wrote the Washington Post.

The GAO reported that the department plans on updating its "data storage solutions, port expansion processors, portable terminals, and desktop terminals by the end of fiscal year 2017."

The current use of what it called "legacy systems" creates maintenance problems not only for the military, but other departments as well.

"Further, in some cases, the vendors no longer provide support for hardware or software, creating security vulnerabilities and additional costs," the GAO report stated. "For example, each of the 12 selected agencies reported using unsupported operating systems and components in their fiscal year 2014 reports pursuant to the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002."

The GAO report stated, according to CNN, that the government spends $60 billion a year on operating and maintaining the older technologies that can be fixed — three times what the investment would be on modern IT systems.

The report stated that the departments of commerce, transportation, health and human services and the Veterans Administration were using "1980s and 1990s Microsoft operating systems that stopped being supported by the vendor more than a decade ago."

The White House's technology advisor Megan J. Smith, a former Google executive, told The New York Times in 2015 that she was in culture shock by the federal bureaucracy run by "creaky technology."

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America's nuclear weapons program still depends on floppy disks from the 1970s to coordinate key strategic forces, including bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles, stated a new report from the Government Accountability Office.
nuclear, program, floppy disks
319
2016-23-27
Friday, 27 May 2016 11:23 AM
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