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July 17, 2003

3 Blogs of the Condor

While searching through the Department of Homeland Security's website, I ran across the National Infrastructure Protection Center's Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report.

The NIPC is part of the Department of Homeland Security. In light of the post below, it's especially ironic that nearly half of the leads in today's report deal with Microsoft vulnerabilities.

The New York Times reports the top official at Interpol has said that groups like al Qaeda and Hezbollah have turned to trafficking in counterfeit consumer goods, like fake Nike shoes, Sony stereo equipment and Calvin Klein jeans. (See item 5)

Microsoft has released "Security Bulletin MS03-026: Buffer Overrun In RPC Interface Could Allow Code Execution (Critical)," and a patch is available on the Microsoft Website. (See item 22)

Microsoft has released "Security Bulletin MS03-027: Unchecked Buffer in Windows Shell Could Enable System Compromise (Important)," and a patch is available on the Microsoft Website. (See item 23)

Microsoft has released "Security Bulletin MS03-028: Flaw in ISA Server Error Pages Could Allow Cross-Site Scripting Attack (Important)," and a patch is available on the Microsoft Website. (See item 24)

The Department of Homeland Security, FedCIRC has issued "DHS/FedCIRC Advisory FA-2003-15 Cisco IOS Interface Blocked by IPv4 Packet." (See item 25)

Internet Security Systems has raised AlertCon to Level 2, with a need for increased alertness.

SecurityFocus has raised ThreatCon to Level 2, with a need for increased alertness.

I've added links above where they were needed to reproduce the .doc functionality.

There are six subsections, dealing with presumably less threatening but still important infrastructure news.

Production Industries: Energy; Chemical; Defense Industrial Base
Service Industries: Banking and Finance; Transportation; Postal and Shipping
Sustenance and Health: Agriculture; Food; Water; Public Health
Federal and State: Government; Emergency Services
IT and Cyber: Information and Telecommunications; Internet Alert Dashboard
Other: General; DHS/IAIP Web Information

The more I read through it the more the report looks just like a blog, though thanks to D.C.'s best and brightest it's only available as a MS Word document or .pdf file, there's little to no commentary, and all the new stories are at least a day or two old.

Come to think of it, it's more like an anti-blog. No reason for it to stay that way, other than bureaucratic inertia. The information within is already adapted for the format. It would just be a matter of publishing it in a more timely manner, and the person(s) in charge of the report are already web-savvy.

Not to mention lucky.

"What is it that you do again?"

"I read websites for the government, ma'am."

Posted by Bigwig at July 17, 2003 01:57 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself.
Comments

The problem with an up-to-the-minute blog is that a government web site is supposed to be official.

I've worked on document clearance for web sites. It takes forever to clear anything but the simplest of documents. Tricky documents take six months, a year, or never; there are some things that are too tricky to post, because no matter how you post it, somebody will intentionally misinterpret it, and bludgeon you over the head politically with it.

The reason we have this process is partly for that political reason, but also so that everything that gets posted is correct. Those blurbs that take a day or two to get blogged probably have to go through a half dozen different places. A post on Microsoft security vulnerabilities, for instance, probably goes through the department's IT section (Did we fix this yet, before I post the magic map for compromising our web site?); through a computer security section (Yeah, this seems to be a pretty plausible explanation of a given violation, it looks technically correct); through the General Counsel's office (nope, nothing in here that would make us liable if you posted it); and through the executive office of the Secretary (Um, does this touch on the Microsoft antitrust litigation in any way? I'll call DOJ and check on that...)

While this sounds like a bureaucratic nightmare, it's a pretty good system for keeping any particular government department from running off the rails and doing something stupid. It's how we keep the left hand appraised of the right hand's activities.

The other problem is that a non-sequitur might make it into a minute-by-minute blog. "Here's Microsoft's new security patch... just in time to stop that virus that crippled the Department last week, I see..." Although government employees are all mostly human, you don't want the government's official statements sounding this way, and that would be a danger if official information got blogged in that manner.

Posted by: Omnibus Bill at July 18, 2003 09:56 AM
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