back to article You're Donald Trump's sysadmin. You've got data leaks coming out the *ss. What to do

Imagine yourself as Donald Trump's sysadmin. Trump's first month as President of the United States of America has been notable for the number of information leaks that have occurred. Trump has called these leaks criminal and seems intent on rooting out whistleblowers. Some poor sysadmin is going to be told to prevent these leaks …

  1. Velv

    Bernard Woolley: That's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it? I give confidential security briefings. You leak. He has been charged under section 2a of the Official Secrets Act.

    (Yes, Minister)

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Also from Yes Minister but I think originating elsewhere:

      The ship of state is the only ship that leaks from the top.

  2. TRT Silver badge

    He needs an IT angel.

    Though angels fear to tread where fools russian.

  3. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Whilst this article was informative, I found this more entertaining:

    Press secretary Sean Spicer is cracking down on leaks coming out of the West Wing, with increased security measures that include random phone checks of White House staffers, overseen by White House attorneys....

    ... Spicer also warned the group of more problems if news of the phone checks and the meeting about leaks was leaked to the media. It's not the first time that warnings about leaks have promptly leaked. The State Department's legal office issued a four-page memo warning of the dangers of leaks, and that memo was immediately posted by The Washington Post.

  4. K

    This is a good article..

    But honestly, I think the first point needs to be training and awareness - specifically for senior managers, who don't understand their corporation is effectively a sieve and you can't plug every hole, or the fact that any tool implemented is at most a hurdle to deter or stop people doing something stupid. But a determined person will eventually get through it...

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      "But a determined person will eventually get through it..."

      As this training film from 1983 shows , it's the enemy within you have to be most aware of.

      Better user education can help cut down the stupid stuff but active malice (for whatever motivation) is another problem.

      And TBH I suspect the D's natural management style has made an exceptionally high number of people who are quite keen to share as much of his Presidency as possible as widely as possible.

      That's where goodwill helps your security.

  5. Aqua Marina

    Reminds me of the time a CEO of a UK based chain-store wanted a webcam on his desk, but at the same time the webcam wouldn't be able to allow the person on the other end to read any documents the CEO might have within view of the webcam. "If I hold up a sensitive document in front of the webcam during a conference, I don't want him to be able to read it". It was a real head-banging moment, he genuinely thought that there was a technical way to stop the camera from focusing on anything other than his face. This was in 2001.

    1. DavCrav

      "he genuinely thought that there was a technical way to stop the camera from focusing on anything other than his face. This was in 2001."

      I can manage that. It's the 80 x 60 resolution. You might just about be able to tell there are black marks on the paper, that's about it.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        not entirely related, but about that same time I had a guy who thought the correct way to save a document was to print it out - hundreds of pages. And if they then wanted to alter it , the newfangled text recognition software would read all the pages back into the computer so that the could be edited.

  6. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    A couple of random thoughts:

    1) If you are planning on using a non-company phone to steal stuff, would you not put it in air-plane mode before brining it in? So cell phone scanning won't do much for anyone that dedicated.

    2) If data security and privacy matters then the only type of cloud storage in use should be the zero-knowledge type like Sync, Boxcryptor, SpidreOak, etc, and certainly not MS/Google/DropBox and similar.

    3) So many data loss incidents seem to be accidental emailing to world+dog, that ought to be a lock-down by default in anyone's system, with special hoops to jump through before you can email more than a few folk (or list) and more so if it has any attachments.

    It might just stop corporate drones emailing a multi-MB word document, PDF or power-point slide to everyone in your organisation to say 3 bullet-points as well...

    1. DavCrav

      "1) If you are planning on using a non-company phone to steal stuff, would you not put it in air-plane mode before brining it in? So cell phone scanning won't do much for anyone that dedicated."

      I did think this. Mobile phone, airplane mode, take a few shots, onto an micro SD card in your underwear, factory reset the phone, nobody's any the wiser. Only way to stop that would be to completely ban mobile phones and security scan everyone. I don't even know if standard metal detectors would pick up a micro SD card, as they don't pick up metal buttons on jeans.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "I did think this. Mobile phone, airplane mode, take a few shots, onto an micro SD card in your underwear, factory reset the phone, nobody's any the wiser."

        Sounds like a lot more effort than needed. There are plenty of small cameras available that don't have any form of radio transmitter that needs to be turned off. No need to over think things when there are simple solutions, especially since they don't do a full body scan/search of staff. Yet.

        1. DavCrav

          "Sounds like a lot more effort than needed. There are plenty of small cameras available that don't have any form of radio transmitter that needs to be turned off. No need to over think things when there are simple solutions, especially since they don't do a full body scan/search of staff. Yet."

          The small camera is an option, but difficult to explain if caught with. The small mobile phone offers plausible deniability.

        2. barbara.hudson

          Nothing can beat the old Mark 1 Eyeball. The leaks that Trump is worried about don't need actual copies (which can be faked anyway), but reliable sources who have seen the policies in question (perhaps by being there while they were discussed, even if they were never committed to any sort of physical or electronic form).

          All the "checking people's phones and computers" and setting up data protection procedures are useless in such cases.

          1. Sam 15

            "All the "checking people's phones and computers" and setting up data protection procedures are useless in such cases."

            They do serve to p1ss off more people, and thus generate even more leaking and random acts of (un)kindness.

    2. Farnet


      Modern scanning hardware can not only detect a phone in Airplane mode, it can detect phones that are switched off and turn them back on again.

      They use them at our company....

      1. frank ly


        Take the battery out?

        1. Scroticus Canis

          Re: @frank ly - Take the battery out?

          That's not so easy on an iPhone or Samsung; well unless it exits the phone on its own.

          1. PatientOne

            Re: @frank ly - Take the battery out?

            Wait... Samsung phones... That's why they burst into flame: They were trying to go for the 'disconnected battery' option but it must have been an early prototype and sparked instead...

            Apple must be doing the same thing considering their battery woes...

            Wow: Mobile Phone manufacturers are secretly helping the People...

            Oh... my pills. Well, yes, I had forgotten them. Freshly dried frogs, too, how nice.

        2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

          Re: @Farnet

          Turn the phone off and pop it into a large bag of crisps.

      2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        @ Farnet

        Citations required I think...

        There is always the Tempest-style of scanning for any active electronic device's leakage, but that would be hard to do in most working environments with numerous phones and PCs and a general lack of screening causing "electronic fog".

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: @ Farnet

          @ Farnet

          Citations required I think...


          I'd like to know how switched off phones can be detected , let alone switched on.

          The phones at your work must have been configged to stay half awake listening for a wol signal

      3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        I knew that there was a use for that

        tinfoil Hat.

        Wrap that around the phone. That'll make the detection a lot harder.

        or that biscuit tin left over from Crimble.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: remote switch on of Phones.

        I think that is possible for Phones on Standby or similar BUT how do you switch a Phone on that is Physically switched off.

        [No Radio/Bluetooth/WiFi/NFC etc]

        Is there a hidden mode that by some sort of induction will switch the phone on ?

        (Possibly, if a certain chip sees a (voltage/voltage change) it performs a soft-switch on. !!!??? )

      5. Chris 239

        Somewhat BS - If the phone is fully powered off then it has no way to receive a signal that could turn it on.

        But if the phone is compromised beforehand (and for all we know it could be designed compromised) to keep the baseband processor powered up even when the phone looks off then it's possible.

        Battery drain while off might give it away but the baseband CPU is very low power - think of the battery life of the old dumb phones.

        Hmm, I could tell when my old dump phone talked to a cell tower by a beedddeebeep sound from the car radio from interferance - don't get tthat any more - suspicious! Where's my tinfoil hat!

    3. Mark 85

      Given the nature of the leaks, what makes the WH think they're happening in the WH? If someone is privy to some juicy info worth leaking, they'll stop on the way home and pick up a burner phone, use it, then toss it.

      So much of this that's happening smacks of security theater or a snow-job to scare people into silence. Which might work, right up until they've decided they've had enough.

  7. Your alien overlord - fear me

    How can you monitor files for sensitive information being uploaded to Dropbox etc. via their webpages when they use https ?

    1. Jim 43

      Government (and most corporate) orgs have their own trusted CA -- these are added to the OS cert chain. Outbound port 80 and 443 connections are routed through a proxy server which serves as a man-in-the-middle. Instead of your browser seeing the webserver SSL cert you get the dynamically generated cert from the proxy server and since it's using a trusted (by your OS/browser) CA, you don't get any errors.

      1. steamrunner

        Not just governments and corporates. Any small business, organisation, group or even household with a half-decent perimeter firewall can do this. It's not some expensive super-rich option.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Andrew Barr
      Black Helicopters

      Good article on whether you are being watch, even via HTTPS. - website is a bit old school but good information.

      1. BebopWeBop

        Yes a good site, and if you mean by 'old school' coherent and readable without fancy crap, I agree with that as well

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about:

    If you want to be a credible president of a major nation, just stop behaving like a dick

    1. AndyS

      Re: How about:

      This whole article reads a bit like an attempt to make a pig farm kosher.

      If the man at the top uses an outdated and unsecured Samsung Andorid phone to tweet insults about whatever bollocks is stopping him sleeping at 3am, what chance does any IT department have?

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: what chance does any IT department have?

        Assign the task to BOFH.

      2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: what chance does any IT department have?

        Here's the solution:-

        Give him an Etch-a-Sketch

      3. Tom 64

        Re: How about:

        Especially since all his minions seem to have no problem to follow his lead on the non-NSA authroised kit. The Big Donnie should just impeach himself right now since he's acting like a 'criminal'.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Perhaps the press should all boycott the briefings

      Then the Dear Leader can shout and rant for all he is worth but there will be no one there to hear him or to report on his Fake News releases and rants about massacres that didn't happen.

      A few weeks of that and they might come to their senses.

      Hmmm. on second thoughts pehaps they won't. He just loves to hear the sound of his own voice.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Perhaps the press should all boycott the briefings

        Steve Davies 3@

        You have just described Trump's Nirvana !!! :)

        BTW: You do realise that 'Mr. Trump' does not have any senses to 'come to'. !!!!!


        More and more I am thinking that the film 'Idiocracy (2006)' [] is coming true. !!! :(

        I didn't know it was a documentary sent from the future to warn us before it is too late. !!!! :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Perhaps the press should all boycott the briefings

          Lots of people seem to think "1984" was a guide book as well, not a warning.

  9. Rich 11

    Simple answer

    Imagine yourself as Donald Trump's sysadmin.

    OK. First, I'd resign out of principle, effective immediately. Second, I'd take a dump in the fireproof safe before resigning.

    1. Blank Reg Silver badge

      Re: Simple answer

      First, downgrade all software to the least secure version that still contains the necessary functionality. Then make sure Anonymous and other suitable groups know about it. Then you can quit.

  10. SotarrTheWizard

    Of course, when a major newspaper. . . .

    . . . prints a request for leaks and provides a how-to for the uninitiated user to download, install, and use a TOR browser, and an anonymous file-transfer utility. . .

    1. this

      Blighty too

      Note: our beloved Grauniad website has a permanent front page link with similar information.

  11. Philip Storry

    If I were Donald Trump's sysadmin - I'd find a new job.

    He employs people who tweet their passwords. His ego won't allow him to admit that he, and his employees, are incompetent. As the sysadmin, I will always get the blame for his and his employee's incompetence and inadequacies.

    So you find a new job.

  12. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "anyone with a personal mobile phone can take pictures of documents and sync, stream or simply walk out of the building with them. Cellbusters can help identify rogue cellphones "

    That deals with cellphones as cameras. What about cameras as cameras? Have they ceased to exist? Even if you have to go to eBay for it there's always

  13. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "You've got data leaks coming out the *ss. What to do"

    Tell the ass to stop tweeting.

  14. Blake St. Claire


    > Imagine yourself as Donald Trump's sysadmin.

    There are some things that defy imagination. And I've got a pretty good imagination.

  15. Chronos


    Replace Trump with a very small shell script. As long as it still posts to Twitter, nobody would notice.

  16. Redstone

    This is what always kills those conspiracy theories...

    When the yarn is spun, the question (for me, at least) is: does this story require large volumes of government employees not to leak any information? If the answer is 'yes', then the likelyhood of the story being fiction tends toward unity.

  17. I Like Heckling Silver badge

    I know what President Grump should say

    Our leaks are the best leaks, the greatest leaks you can get, we're going to build a great big wall around those leaks and make every one pay for them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I know what President Grump should say

      Making leaks great again

      1. Mark 85

        Re: I know what President Grump should say

        Making leaks great again

        The greatest leak is the first one in the morning, or perhaps the first one after consuming much brew.

        Oh.. wrong type of leak.... nevermind.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I know what President Grump should say

      "Our leaks are the best leaks"

      Wales has the best leeks.

      OK, getting it.

  18. Blake St. Claire

    Couldn't possibly pay me enough to do that job

    > Imagine yourself as Donald Trump's sysadmin.

    Further to my previous comment. I happen to know (and I think it's public knowledge anyway) that federal employee pay is capped at the VPOTUS's salary. And getting that much is damn near impossible except in the most extenuating of circumstances.

    Frankly, $230K wouldn't be enough. Ever. Not for #45 anyway. Although I'm sure there are less scrupulous individuals who would take the job and then come ask El Reg how to do it.

  19. hammarbtyp

    I think the point is being missed a bit

    If you treat your workforce like a proles in dictatorship, you will only incentivize the workforce to break the system such as make a hated boss look bad, leave the company or just to see it fail.

    Basically sysadmins are being used to try and overcome the shortcomings of management, but unless you happen to have the powers of a North Korean dictator there is no way to stop all leaks. Even if you lock down every service, who watches the watchmen?

    The whitehouse is not leaking due to lack of security, but the desire to circumvent it driven by a administration who want to act like a 3rd world dictator. Good luck with that

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    [VirtueSignalMode] I would QUIT, I would not even server under HITLER!! I would definitely not be the sysadmin in one of the highest paid, most prestigious, challenging posts in the world because... argh! politics and and HITLER! [/VirtueSignalMode]

    1. Rich 11

      Re: Yawn

      Aw, look, yet again it's someone who thinks that anyone with an ounce of integrity, empathy or compassion must be virtue-signalling, because obviously it's so much more important to boast about yourself and raise your social standing amongst your peers than it is to be able to sleep at night.

      Tells you all you need to know about them, the small-minded conscienceless self-centred rat pricks.

  21. tiesx150


    Its almost impossible to secure your network from internal employees, they are SUPPOSED to be trusted. Id guess they could go down the line of sending suspects to GB (not the UK) for a weekend break of waterboarding to weed out the moles but that would most likely be seen as too extreme even for Mr T.

    1. Justicesays

      Re: Secure?

      " too extreme even for Mr T."

      I pity the fool etc. etc.

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Secure?

      The A Team would make a much better job than that oaf they currently have

      1. MrDamage Silver badge

        Re: Secure?

        At least Murdoch has moments of lucidity.

  22. steve 124

    seriously Trevor

    Trevor, good article, however, why not just have a picture of the american flag with turds sitting on it? This site isn't a political site (although Trump referenced articles always seem to end up that way) so what is the point of putting an inflammatory picture of our President as the giant headline?

    How about I write an article about palace cyber security and put this picture as the article picture:

    Would you like that? Would you feel I respected the throne?

    Like I said, I have no problem with the article, but I'm seriously getting tired of the anti-Trump (even when done as subtly as a giant grotesque cartoon of my President making a face like he's ripping loose a fart).

    I expect more from you Trevor, but then again you did write an article back in 2015 saying how the radiation spewing from Japan isn't really hurting anything, so maybe I expect too much from you.

    I stopped going to the inquirer tech site because they insisted on blocking ad-blockers, and it looks like if this keeps up I might be leaving the Register over political differences. At least there's always slashdot and about a gazillion other sites I could changer over to. I noticed the Inquirer lost over 70% of it's daily traffic over the ad-block thing (and it hasn't recovered after turning that crap off).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: seriously Trevor

      That "cartoon" is a reasonably accurate representation of The Donald saying "you're fired" in New Hampshire during his campaign.

      Taken by Reuters.

      Real news.

      Anonymous because I usually don't, but our resident republicans seem to be terribly sensitive. "suck it up..." etc, eh? Feel free to flounce away from this website too, or stay. It's all good.

    2. barbara.hudson

      Re: seriously Trevor

      If you think that going over to slashdot is going to save your political sensitivities, wow, you must be new there. REALLY new. Anti-Trump posts frequently hit the +5 mod cap, and pretty much guarantee great karma.

      The Dumpenfuhrer is the world's laughingstock. His latest monstrosity is supposed to open in Vancouver, British Columbia, and nobody wants it.

      "Mayor Gregor Robertson, among others, has urged the developer to drop the Trump name. “Trump’s name and brand have no more place on Vancouver’s skyline than his ignorant ideas have in the modern world,” he said in a letter.

      "City councilman Kerry Jang said the tower, which he calls a “beacon of racism ... intolerance, sexism and bullying,” is out of place not just because of the views of the person whose name adorns it but for a style that he said clashes with low-key Canada. “It represents a brand that’s over the top, glitz and glamour,” Jang said. “It’s not our thing.”

      "British Columbia Premier Christy Clark also said the Trump name doesn’t represent the values of a city that is known for its support of environmental causes and open drug policies."

      The only possible advantage to the Trump name now is that it will immediately lower your property value, getting you a municipal tax break.

    3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: seriously Trevor

      Bye. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

      Also: I really don't care what you say about the queen. She's a big girl and I assume she can handle herself. I'm not nationalist, especially for the remnants of some other country that invaded this continent, committed genocide several times then established colonies without any real representation.

      As for pooping on the US of A and it's grand poobah, well...I calls 'em like I sees 'em. If he wasn't a douchecanoe there wouldn't be so many people leaking (or need to cover so much up) and thus no point in writing such an article. Don't blame me for not having an economical relationship with the truth.

      As for the Fukushima radiation not really hurting anything...please point to any actual evidence of where it has actually hurt something. And while you're at it, maybe understand something about radiation.

      Science! It works, bitches.

      1. steve 124

        Re: seriously Trevor

        Wow, Trev, maybe you should be a waiter at Chipoltle's instead of a tech site contributor. I mean you couldn't hurt THEIR reputation.

        Perhaps it IS time to abandon your site and allow it to continue the frenzied liberal circle jerk that it's become in the last couple of years. Just a shame, because aside from your hack articles, there are several good contributors on this site. But hey man, if you don't want me around you don't have to tell me twice.

        As far as your PHD dissertation on how not dangerous Cesium 137 is, maybe check on the latest NOAA maps here and tell me if you want to eat Pacific tuna or drink water if you live in Hawaii or California?

        Oh, wait, gee that information "the latest studies" are from back in 2012 and it appears to be 2017 now (and for some reason didn't test for Strontium-90? To avoid panic?) It’s worth noting that in 2016, the EPA raised the allowable limit of radioactive elements in drinking water by 3,000 percent (the new limit would be equivalent to having 250 chest x-rays in a single year), so yeah, it's safe... here's an ice cold glass Trev.

        Here's the latest thing happening at Tepco, but I'm sure it's nothing to worry about...

        1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

          Re: seriously Trevor

          "liberal circle jerk" - in Amerika these days a "liberal" is anyone to the right of Genghis Khan, who of course they would not let into the country anyway.

          Colonel Quinn: Your background is fairly liberal, isn't it, Mr Blair?

          Barley: No. My father hated liberals. He took the communist line mainly.

        2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: seriously Trevor

          First off, Caesium 137 isn't all that harmful. It decays via beta emission into Barium 137(m) which pukes out a gamma ray on its way to ground state. The Barium is what's bad for your health.

          Now, a single atom of Caesium converting into Barium and emitting some electrons and a high energy photon is statistically unlikely to harm you. Think "one in a number large enough to take you until the end of the universe to write out" chances of giving you cancer. I wouldn't want to sleep on several kilgrams of Caesium 137, but you are not going to run into large quantities of Caesium 137 due to the Fukushima event.

          If all the Caesium 137 - and Iodine, and Strontium and all the other nasty crap - released by Fukushima were to be gathered up into a ball it would really, - really - suck to be anywhere near that. As in "your skin melting from your face and you die in agony" levels of bad. Fortunately, the way it all went kablooie means the radioactive badness was dispersed pretty far and wide.

          Even accounting for concentration of isotopes through the food chain - and remember, most of the really nasty stuff has some pretty short half lives - you're still not getting to "omg zombie mutant cancer fishes that will kill your children" territory here. You're talking about "irrelevantly increased background radiation" for the overwhelming majority of the world and "mild-to-irrelevant increased cancer risk" to a few specific areas in Japan proper. Areas that have been fenced off.

          Maybe you should stop pissing your pants in terror whenever the word "radiation" is used and learn how the world works. Now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to take my life in my hands and go eat a radioactive banana. OMG potassiums!

          P.S. I had pacific tuna for lunch today. It was delicious. I think I'll order my next bottled water from Hawaii. I'd actually be less afraid of that than where most of the bottled water on this continent comes from (Ontario), largely because there's less pollution and horrible metals in most Hawaiian water sources. They'll do a lot more damage to me a lot more quickly than a few high energy photons and some emitted electrons.

          P.P.S. Seriously, how do you cope with flying. Do you have any idea how much radiation you're exposed to on a transcontinental flight? Do you avoid medical imaging? Egads, man...

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: seriously Trevor

            Addendum re this section: "First off, Caesium 137 isn't all that harmful. It decays via beta emission into Barium 137(m) which pukes out a gamma ray on its way to ground state. The Barium is what's bad for your health."

            With science not being your strong suit, I'm assuming humour probably isn't either. So you should read that paragraph with a smiley at the end. Barium itself isn't bad for you (in smallish quantities), but the gamma ray that Barium 137(m) pukes out on its way to Barium 137 is.

            More accurately: one gamma ray is statistically unlikely to be bad for you, but a whole bunch of them probably are. To wit: even if one gamma ray it hit some DNA, or knocked free an oxygen somewhere that could mess with DNA your natural DNA repair mechanisms would handle it. Typically, you'd need to get dosed with a lot of high-energy photons in order to do more damage than your body could repair.

            We're talking statistics here, however. Theoretically you could get dinged by a gamma ray from decay of any of the many radioactive isotopes naturally present in your body - or randomly hit by a cosmic ray - and have everything align against you such that your DNA repair mechanisms missed the alteration and you get cancer. That's life.

            The more high energy photons you're exposed to, the greater the chances you'll develop a cancer. This is less of an issue with alpha and beta radiation, but I'd stay away from things that emit neutrons in their decay chain. Again: quantity is relevant.

            If you want to freak out about something, however, why don't you go study the effects of mercury on humans and start learning about how it is being concentrated via the food chain and posing an actual threat to us...

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: seriously Trevor

              "The more high energy photons you're exposed to, the greater the chances you'll develop a cancer."

              In practical terms, gamma radiation is so high energy that it tends to kill cells outright, trigger apoptosis or cause their neighbours to kill them.

              ditto Alpha and Beta radiation. You have to be exposed to staggeringly large amounts of non-lethal ionising radiation before it starts increasing cancer risks - and the primary mode seems to be killing off enough cells that the immune system gets compromised, so that normal mutations aren't spotted and killed.

              If you really want to give someone cancer, give them a beryllium sandwich.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: seriously Trevor

            "It decays via beta emission into Barium 137(m) which pukes out a gamma ray on its way to ground state. The Barium is what's bad for your health."

            Yup and there's good evidence that all that polonium fizzing away in a smoker's lungs(*) doesn't do diddly squat through radioactive damage and it's when it breaks down to barium or beryllium on the way to ground state that it causes trouble. Beryllium is particularly bad news.

            (*) Polonium? Yup. It collects on the fur on tobacco leaves and tobacco companies have been trying to figure out a way to get rid of it for 50 years - so far, no sucess. The EPA wrote it up a while back:

            Obfacts of the day:

            - A pack-a-day for 20 years smoker's lungs are seriously radioactive - so much so that they count in the top 5 "most radioactive places on earth" and would be treated as high level radioactive waste if dumped on the grounds of a nuclear power plant.

            - So is a truckload of bananas (not not as radioactive as the lungs) and they've been known to set off radiological detectors tuned for bombs or bomb materials at ports.

            - The cancer rates in Hiroshima and Nagasaki spiked for a couple of years after the bombs (mostly due to gamma-burst radiation exposure damaging immune systems and leaving exposed people slightly more vulnerable to all diseases for a few years) and since then have been about 0.25% higher than normal "background" rates in Japan.

            - Coal plants emit more radioactive materials around the planet each year than several Chernobyl class events.

            - If they were subject to the same radioactive emissions limits as nuclear plants, every coal power station on the planet would be shut down tomorrow.

            - Enhanced thyroid screening around Chernoybl turned up a vastly increased tumour rate - but so did enhanced thyroid screening in Korea with no nuclear events in sight. The funny thing is when you go looking for something you didn't previously check for, you'll find it. Correlation is not Causality. (Look that statement up)

            - It's worth looking into the size of the plumes from USA continental atmospheric nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s (Hint, they weren't small, they went over populated areas and yet noone was evacuated)

            On the other hand:

            - Since the start of the industrial revolution, burning coal has been the prime driver of the world oceanic mercury level more than doubling - and I'm more concerned about mercury poisoning from my tuna than about radioactives, thankyouverymuch. Mecuric compounds sequestered in fish fats pass up the food chain and keep on poisoning over a span of centuries. Radioactives break down.

            - You might like to look up "Minamata bay" sometime.

            - In the same period, ocean acidity has increased by 30% and anoxic deadspots have been spreading. More recently, measurements of dissolved oxygen levels have been decreasing slightly. You might want to look up "anoxic oceanic event" and "Leptav sea methane" then consider what happens if 2-5Gigatons of carbon pops up into the atmosphere or hydrosphere from all that Methane Clathrate warming up (and then there's the tsunamis - look up "Storegga Slide" sometime)

            - Cancer rates downwind of coal-fired power stations are _significantly_(as in, more than 10%) higher than background levels

            - The _2_ largest environmental disasters in the USA so far in the 21st century were coal power plant ash slurry pond dam breaches (Deepwater Horizon isn't even 3rd) and there are around 5000 more of them that the EPA is aware of and worried about.

            So yes, let's worry about a small amount of radioactive material which can be detected from a distance and ignore the elephant in the room of the possibility of atmospheric oxygen levels dropping to 15% (equivalent to about 7000 foot altitude) or possibly as low as 11% (about the same as 11-14,000 foot altitude(**). Bugger sea level changes, that's a side show. Once you're below 11%, oxygen starts having major trouble crossing into the bloodstream.

            (**) Human physiology reacts to reduced oxygen levels by thickening the blood, leading to congestive heart failure (it happens sooner or later, sooner is also known as altitude sickness, later is a shortened lifespan and sluggish mental state). There are only 2 ethnic groups which have adapted to continuous life at high altitudes without ill-effects and unless you're of Tibetan or Nepalese descent you're not one of them.

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: seriously Trevor

            > You're talking about "irrelevantly increased background radiation" for the overwhelming majority of the world and "mild-to-irrelevant increased cancer risk" to a few specific areas in Japan proper. Areas that have been fenced off.

            Most of those fenced off areas haven't actually had any change in their radiation levels.

            The japanese govt slashed allowable radiation levels by 90% in the days following Fukushima, making many areas which weren't anywhere near Fukushima "Dangerously radioactive" - by Japanese standards we'd need to evacuate the Yorkshire dales and Helsinki (then again, radioactive zombies might explain the likes of Nora Batty along with Finnish Heavy Metal bands.)

            Looking objectively at Three Mile Island (which is now being cleaned up and worth a few stories - TREVOR!!!), Fukushima, Snake River and Chernoybl, it's pretty clear that whilst they could be better, safety systems are actually pretty good - and if molten salt fuelled ones get running they'll be even safer because they can't have radioactive steam explosions, contaminated water leaking out or hydrogen explosions.

            As for "dangerously high levels of radioactivity at Fukushima" - yes there are - Inside the containment vessel, which is doing exactly what it's designed to do and keeping the hot stuff from getting out.

            Instead of poking that bear with waldos which can't take the radioactivity - and thus become more nuisance scrap metal getting in the way when cleanup gets underway - it's better to just make sure that groundwater is kept out of the way and leave it alone for a couple of decades - the same kind of meltdown happened at TMI and it's now safe enough to take apart.

            There were a dozen other plants along the same coastline which got hit by the same earthquake and same tsunami. They all came through just fine. Yes, safety deficiencies were found at most of them and restarting has been delayed until those are fixed, but the point about safety on nuclear sites is that there are so many layers of safety you have to have a pretty spectacularly bad series of cockups to actually have a meltdown (Fukushima was savable. Tepco management caused the meltdown. It would have been worse if the chief engineer onsite hadn't managed to grow a backbone, tell them to go fuck themselves and get on with saving the day.)

            Quite frankly, the Japanese plant which worries me is Monju - and that's been effectively out of action for nearly two decades. What you can do with 50-500 tons of supposedly "not radioactive" sodium metal in the basement is an interesting question (What bozo thought liquid sodium was a great coolant? Hello? Oxygen+hot sodium == boom!) and isn't helped by the japanese government's ongoing refusal to be open about what's there, how much is there and what state it's in.

    4. Rich 11

      Re: seriously Trevor

      How about I write an article about palace cyber security and put this picture as the article picture:

      Would you like that? Would you feel I respected the throne?

      I wouldn't give a fuck, mate. You don't seem to understand which country gave birth to the series that image is from, nor how hugely popular it was.

      1. Chris 239

        Re: seriously Trevor

        @Rich 11 - Thanks for prompting me to visit the link! Have an upvote. laughable that some ignorant nutter posted it as an insult to dear old queenie! a hilarious BIRTISH comedy prime time puppet show that took the p!ss out of every body - remember the Presidents missing brain?

        They should bring it back, with a "The President has No Brain" storyline!

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: seriously Trevor

          Newzoids is like a modern Spitting Image Light.

          There is a ginger cat involved!

          Spitting Image was good, non British may think that the puppet of the Queen was disrespectful or nasty, but it is funny how you can joke about them without insulting them.

          Actually there was not much real nastiness in it, it was just everything exagerated.

          The Queen never goes to toilet (but I can't find the song)

          Margaret Thatcher and the vegetables

          I suppose Mandelson as a snake is .... no it is accurate.

          Presidents Brain is missing

          The long held British tradition of taking the p155

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: seriously Trevor

        "You don't seem to understand which country gave birth to the series that image is from, nor how hugely popular it was."

        The popularity extending to the lady being portrayed in the image, who by all accounts thought it was hilarious.

        It's a very unhealthy sign when a nation can't take having fun poked at its establishment and leadership and an even unhealthier one when the leaders themselves can hand out abuse but can't stand to be on the receiving end of a few jibes.

        It's amazing how much the folk calling liberals "special snowflakes" can't actually take it when it's dished back. Did you lot chew on a few too many windowsills as babies?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: seriously Trevor

      steve 124@,

      "Would you like that? Would you feel I respected the throne?"

      You obviously miss the subtle hints that many DO NOT respect the throne (Office) of Mr Trump while he is in the job.

      He is making USA a global laughing stock.

      He is telling the world quite clearly that he does not understand the job or the position the USA has (had) in the world.

      I know that many americans think the world hates them, but this is not true.

      Many people around the world see USA as a leader of opinion and wish their countries would learn from the traditional enlightened views of America.

      Trump has turned this all on its head.

      Trump seems to think that you can win world approval and adoration by holding a gun to the heads of the world states/countries and demanding that everyone loves him and America. !!!

      Trumps views and the views of the people around him are creating fear and loathing.

      People that are fearful make bad decisions and that is the real danger at the moment.

      America is becoming a 'Bully' and 'Isolationist', the fallout from these actions will impact us all.

      Unfortunately, USA will not be able to hide behind any Wall, no matter how high, if Trump pushes countries into chaos.

      During all this diversion, of course, the likes of IS will continue to recruit more followers as the actions of Trump/USA are talked up as yet more proof of the 'war' against Islam. (Just like with Trump, truth is displaced by 'alternative facts' !!!)

    6. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      Re: seriously Trevor

      "How about I write an article about palace cyber security and put this picture as the article picture:"


    7. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: seriously Trevor

      Trevor is perfectly correct about Fukushima.

      1500 people died in the evacuation - not a single one from any kind of radiation exposure (vs exposure to radiation hysteria). Some of the more direct deaths were patients moved during critical surgery who died before they even left the building.

      If the population had been left where they were, the extra radiation exposure would be equivalent to a couple of chest xrays per year - and to put that in context you get more radiation exposure from 1-2 hours flying at 20,000k feet than from a chest xray.

      As for the USA, a better trope would be a troupe of flying monkeys led by a sulfur-crested gilded shitgoblin that's bigging it up in the smoke and mirrors whilst people who want you to stay distracted frantically work levers behind a few curtains (Even Bannon is only a flying monkey).

      What's needed about now is a mildly homocidal teenager with a few buckets of water and a small dog that goes for ankles of lever-pullers.

  23. DougMac

    They have zero imagination. I think the only thing they can think of is what they already do. eg. there must be voter fraud, because their own people are registered to vote in 3 states. They look for the apps that they themselves use.

    Have they ever heard of actually talking on the phone? Speaking in code? USB sticks? (Snowden got all his info out on USB sticks), burner phones?

    The movie 'No Way Out' seems apropos here. But maybe they should actually watch Mr. Robot to learn some basics.

  24. DeviousB

    I'd build a firewall around all the services...

    and I'd make... the users... pay.

  25. Alistair Silver badge

    White House Leaks. Leaky Leaky.

    1) Read this on the fly in a hurry, made it about 1/3 the way through and realized I was reading Trevor, without referring to the author line.

    2) I can imagine the situation, but would be utterly horrified in a full time mode. I would be having each relevant person in my purview signing off on rather long complex documents that basically said (if you type it on an electronic device, you might as well be publishing it in the washington post, new york times, and CNN Live) - just to get it started. After that I'd be recommending changes, and each and every time one of those changes was turned down, having a co-incident document signed off by every member of the committee shooting the change down.

    3) after 18 days I'd have enough paper on file to redecorate 80% of the White House. I'd submit my resignation and release all of the aforementioned paperwork to Fox News. Just to see how completely and utterly they'd manage to screw up interpretation of the legalese.

    Considering all the crap that has fallen out of the administration already there is *no* way leaks will be stopped any time soon. Not without *major* purges of staff in all of the american pillars.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: White House Leaks. Leaky Leaky.

      made it about 1/3 the way through and realized I was reading Trevor

      *smoochies*, Alastair. :)

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bad Actors

    In Mr Trump's case, the problem is bad actors who are doing what they know to be illegal. I don't know that the solution there can ever be a technical one.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Bad Actors

      "the problem is bad actors who are doing what they know to be illegal."

      And leakers who are making sure the world finds out.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shocking lack of networking knowledge

    I can't believe I just read this:

    "One thing to understand about trying to secure information in 2017 is that data centres have no perimeter. Where does the on-premises data centre end and the cloud begin?"

    So much head shaking. The cloud begins at the perimeter firewall and the associated switching. If you don't know where (or what) that is you have no business deploying your services anywhere.

    Seriously, you configure that networking hardware to filter (or monitor) incoming and outgoing traffic. It's one of the most basic functions within IT or security monitoring.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shocking lack of networking knowledge

      I can't believe I just read this:

      > I can't believe I just read this:

      Trevor is 1000% right, and you are wrong, and your network is highly vulnerable because YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

      You might have a network perimeter, and can point to it on a diagram or even in the DC. But the attackers know it is not really there, and will simply pass through it.

      PLEASE talk to someone you trust for advice, and how to think like an attacker.

  28. John F***ing Stepp

    Simple enough

    Just make every bit of leakable news so damned nonsensable that any reasonable person would disbelive it.

    (They might be doing this by accident)

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Simple enough

      I'm concerned that the people pulling the strings are trying to make the Gilded Shitgoblin so pathologically unacceptable that when they do kick him out the population will heave sigh of relief and accept anyone else into the position even if merely "unacceptable" - eg Pence.

      It's a bit like when you have a bunch of drunken abusive relatives and one of them is so bad that even THEY can't stand him and remove him from the family fathering. You still have a bunch of drunken abusive relatives to deal with.

  29. Mark 85
    Thumb Down


    Seems the man in charge places more stock in having his staff be people he "trusts". Given the leak problem, I think he needs to re-examine his beliefs in "trusting friends" and focus more on competency. Oh.. and add: And pay attention to what the advisors are telling you instead of shooting from the lip at anything that moves.

  30. swschrad

    or, don't be a dick, so folks don't try to undermine you

    but that hardly applies to the Really White House, does it?

  31. barbara.hudson
    Thumb Up

    The answer is obvious ...

    You're the sysadmin? Continue leaking the data! History will thank you.

  32. This post has been deleted by its author

  33. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    EMP - that's fixed it.

    A nice big fat electromagnetic pulse will deal with the phones, memory sticks, and most cameras less than 20 years old - I can take care of the rest of it with a pair of diagonal cutters.

  34. Colin Millar

    The Donald has a plan

    He will simply order all government departments to change all their datas to alternative datas. Then when it is leaked he can shout "fake news" and feel all truthy inside.

    Meanwhile, all the real datas will be transferred to an sd card on his phone and he will send them by SMS only to people that he trusts.

  35. dm_dv


    Computer Users need provide the likes of Donald J Trump absolutely no apology for good computing needless to say they do not need to apologize for mathematic or understanding computer security, it's threat's, it's landscape's or it's pitfalls.

    Last time I remember reading a leak it had been leaked he himself was using Windows Server and it had been found to be full of vulnerabilities. Much later on he himself tweeted how out-going president "Obama" had tapped his phone and was a bad "sick" guy.

    One can barely restrain the laughter, that a load of hackers have upgraded cryptographic libraries and suddenly every-bodies upset because cryptography is doing what it should. Phasing out the BAD mathematics. Such as DES & SHA1 and then upon reflection perhaps if president trump was using Sun Solaris he might feel differently about Computers and the types of Security available, if he himself was using RIOT OS line tapping those Cat6 connections, running interception at the packet layer with wireshark, needless to say, thats when your not trying to weaken and back-door (trap-door) those systems upon which the world and it's dog rely!

  36. dm_dv
    IT Angle

    A plan from outer space, the C shell - welcome to computers - science and mathematics one on one!

    Here in the computer science school we teach you about "MATHS" and algorithms and the GNU and Microcode trap-doors, how to put your cryptographic hashes into Vampire to compare the hashes!

    Welcome to the world of hacking you fucking moron's, it's as old as the Internet itself, it's not some secret capability, it's something you are all free to get involved in because it's the GNU & Unix - both of which represent freedom - although some aspects of it are about as free as American Politics!

    Hackers who break security are called "Crackers" and other hackers view such individuals as one would view naval lint!

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Hackers who break security are called "Crackers" and other hackers view such individuals as one would view naval lint!"

      There's another layer down on the hierarchy: Script Kiddies. Crackers write attack scripts. Script kiddies use them on a click-n-drool basis with no real understanding of what they're doing - and the primary motivation being "for the lulz"

  37. oldcoder

    Well. First you tell Trump to hire COMPETENT people to be in charge.

    Unfortunately, he won't hire anyone more competent than he is...

  38. Alan Brown Silver badge

    In a mess that big

    I'd be resigning and issuing a covermyass letter.

    You do NOT want to be in the middle when the shit hits the fan and you will NOT be thanked by manglement for hauling their gonads out of a vice (They'll either blame you for causing it, or fail to appreciate how close they came to being permanent staff at the ministry of silly walks)

    Conversely you can make a lot of money from cleaning it up later

  39. dm_dv


    Now you see, there is the bucket of Fail!

    He shouldn't hire anyone to do something that;

    A:> He is not trained to do...

    B:> Cant not perform himself...

    If he can not install Solaris 11 by himself, then upgrade his security by merging his updates with main, then he is fucking doomed!

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