A wry rebuttal to Nuts, Nuns and Nukes



Franklin M. Siler is an interesting lawyer and a blogger, particularly on matters of technology. He holds degrees in computer science, accounting, and law, and he spent more than a decade as an IT consultant working with British Telecom among others. I don’t doubt that he knows a lot about security issues. He practices law in Kansas.

Frank wrote me with his humorous take on Nuts, Nuns and Nukes. With Frank’s permission, I reprint a portion of his correspondence next.

Frank writes:

I have to say . . . I’m perplexed at your post. Though I regularly work with clients who have less than a full deck, I found this almost farcical. I’ll write my response as a security consultant, since that is my alter ego.

. . .

The fact that the guardians of the henhouse are so incompetent hardly seems like a reason to punish those who were trivially able to defeat the security measures in place.

“Deadly force is authorized,” signs there read. “Halt!” Images of skulls emphasize the lethal danger.

I don’t see how this has any more legal meaning than a dump truck that has a sign on the back proclaiming “not responsible for broken windshields”. It might be foolish to follow such a truck, just as it is foolish to walk past such a sign- but I don’t see how that can be interpreted as an aggravation on the trespassers’ part. It’s simply that the Keystone Kop guardians failed to use any of the measures they warn about.

. . .

There are people who make a ton of money doing what these people did for free. It’s called “penetration testing”, or “pentesting” for short. As a taxpayer, I’m dumbfounded but unsurprised that granny and her miscreant accomplices were able to do this. I’m equally unsurprised that the government took more than two weeks to explain to itself what happened.

What DOES surprise me is that you seem to characterize this mishandling on the government’s part as some kind of test for whether national security was compromised. There’s no indication that they got close to destroying any material equipment, disrupted our military stance, or even necessarily slowed down the services. Their intents and acts certainly fall in to the “symbolic” rather than “substantive” when it comes to damage to national defense.

The government should be embarrassed by this case. Instead of admitting ineptitude and fixing what may or may not be substantive security problems, it reached out and threatened minor vandals with a 20-year sentence. It’s blaming the wrong people for the problem.

. . .

I totally agree they’re nuts. I totally agree that some time in custody is warranted. I just can’t agree that they tried to “sabotage” anything.

. . .

 Now, back to my copy of DSM-5 to see what’s wrong with my latest batch of “interesting” clients.

I responded to Frank’s concluding remarks about the DSM-5 (the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)). I wrote: “Don’t spend too much time with the DSM-5. I did that once. I now see, hear and smell Dinosaurs. Haldol doesn’t help unless I chase it with a jigger of gin.”


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