June 19, 2007

What the ???? (Stolen State Data Was NOT Encrypted)

Filed under: Privacy/ID Theft,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:53 pm

Generally agreeing with NixGuy’s take up to this point, I decided not to deal with the state data-theft story because it seemed like an unlucky break, and I wasn’t going to pile on — not when there are, in the big picture, more important stories like the state’s better-off-than-portrayed budget situation and our governor treating an unindicted co-conspirator-with-terror group as if it’s just another religious or civil-rights organization.

After all, the data was encrypted.

“Oops.”

Here what Tech News World reported on Friday, June 15:

Thieves who broke into a car belonging to an intern for the state of Ohio on Sunday no have access to data on all the state’s 64,000 employees — at least theoretically.

The data, which was on a backup device, included the names and Social Security numbers for all employees of the state, Gov. Ted Strickland announced Friday. Fortunately, it was encrypted, Keith Dailey, press secretary for the governor’s office, told TechNewsWorld.

Ohio Highway Patrol has asked that specific details about the computer device and its encryption be withheld so as not to interfere with the investigation, Dailey said.

But today, according to an Associated Press story by Stephen Majors in the Akron Beacon Journal (HT RAB), the story has totally changed:

State says data on stolen tape not encrypted
Ohio will spend $700,000 to plug privacy threat, but security measures could have scrambled info

COLUMBUS – Ohio’s $700,000 response to the theft of a sensitive state computer backup tape from the car of an intern would have been unnecessary had the information been encrypted, a relatively inexpensive process growing more common in the world of information technology, experts said Monday.

Gov. Ted Strickland has said the information on the backup tape — including the names and Social Security numbers of all 64,000 state employees and their dependents — was not encrypted, a process by which data is jumbled into an unrecognizable form through the use of complex mathematical codes. Parts of the tape, however, were protected by password, Strickland’s spokesman said Monday.

OK, I see three possibilities:

  1. Strickland and his spokesmen were misled by lower-level folks about the presence of lack of encryption and they didn’t get caught in their deception until the past day or so.
  2. Strickland et al and/or certain lower-level folks in the food chain don’t know the difference between password protection and encryption, thinking they’re one and the same, and the communication got garbled by the time it got to the governor’s office.
  3. Strickland et al knew the data was not encrypted and, uh, fibbed about it for an entire weekend, giving thousands of people a completely false sense of security that won’t be undone by today’s “oops.” If the Strickland administration has been engaging in uncalled-for news management in the data-theft story by allowing bad news to dribble out instead of releasing it all at once, that would seem to this admitted non-lawyer to be a very serious matter.

I see no way anyone can now claim that this has been handled properly from top to bottom.

We sure ought to start finding out who knew what, and when they knew it. This may be one of those situations calling for an independent investigation.

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UPDATE: This snippet from the AP story begs a big question –

Also in response to the theft, Strickland signed an executive order last week calling for a data encryption protocol to be developed within 75 days.

Wait a minute — I thought as of “last week” (June 15 was Friday) that “everyone knew” that the data WAS encrypted — and still thought so for another three days. I suppose the need for an executive order covering data-handling in general might have been considered, but why encryption, if “everyone knew” that encryption wasn’t a problem? The full text of the executive order is at the end of this link.

I sense that there is a lot of story-straightening going on in Columbus tonight.

UPDATE 2: Maybe there’s a fourth possibility, but it seems like a stretch — the Ohio State Highway Patrol might have suggested that the public be told that the data was encrypted so that the thief would return it quickly without trying to access it. I don’t want to be accused of inventing useful excuses, but anyway it seems that this tactic would have been good for the first couple days after the theft (about June 10) IF the public had known about it — which it didn’t. Given that no one outside the inner circle knew of the data theft until Thursday or Friday the 14th or 15th, that attempted explanation doesn’t wash very well. Four or five days is forever in a theft case.

Ted Strickland’s CAIR Appearance, and Ohio’s Snoozing Press

JUNE 21 BREAKING: Strickland-CAIR Update: Reported Strickland Staffer Response

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Ohio’s press must have been forced into rationing newsprint and bandwidth during the past couple of days.

I can’t otherwise explain how the Toledo Blade, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Dayton Daily News (news; blogs), and especially the Columbus Dispatch, have thus far carried no coverage of this Ted Strickland appearance on Sunday (press release URL was later moved to this link by CAIR):

Monday, June 18, 2007
OHIO GOVERNOR SPEAKS AT CAIR BANQUET

(COLUMBUS, OH, 6/18/2007) – Ohio Governor Ted Strickland spoke last night at the tenth annual banquet of the Council on American-Islamic Relations chapter in that state (CAIR-OH).

Governor Strickland addressed the crowd of 350 people, saying: “On behalf of all Ohioans, [my wife and I] appreciate your vision to promote justice and mutual understanding. We gather under CAIR-Ohio’s theme this year, ‘American Muslims: Connecting and Sharing,’ to do just that, to connect and share and get to know each other better.”

Governor Strickland also expressed appreciation for “the Muslim traditions of strong family, hard work, and education,” and presented a proclamation honoring CAIR-Ohio’s work.

CAIR Chairman Dr. Parvez Ahmed and several prominent imams also spoke at the event. Imams, local elected officials, and members of the interfaith community were among those in attendance.

For that matter, there’s not even anything in Google News.

All searches were done on “Strickland CAIR” without quote marks used at about 7:30 this morning. The DDN’s results that were returned only had Strickland’s name and no mention of CAIR.

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(Correction, 10:30 a.m.: The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Politics blog had an entry yesterday that didn’t show up in a result-free Enquirer search. The entry describes CAIR as “America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group,” makes no mention of the terror ties described in this post, and says that Strickland is the first Ohio governor to address the group.)

+++++++++++++++++

Not newsworthy? Surely you jest. It’s not every day that the sitting governor of one of the country’s larger states breaks bread with an organization that has been named an unindicted co-conspirator in an alleged criminal conspiracy to support the Palestinian Arab terrorist group Hamas.

Yes, THAT Hamas. Y’know, the one that during the few days leading up to the governor’s appearance was reported to have, among many other atrocities:

  • Executed officials of rival Gaza Strip faction Fatah “one by one in front of their families in the streets of Gaza City.” Many of those officials appear not to have been combatants in any meaningful sense.
  • Thrown an officer in a Fatah-linked security force (Mohammed Sweirki of the Presidential Guard of President Mahmoud Abbas) from the roof of a 15-story apartment building (Fatah did likewise to a Hamas “activist”).
  • Shot dead seven Fatah fighters after they had surrendered.”

Nice.

And who is Dr. Parvez Ahmed, you may ask? He’s CAIR’s national Chairman of the Board. In 2004, this paragon of “connecting and sharing,” and of “promoting justice and mutual understanding,” threatened “legal consequences” (HT FrontPage) to those who might dare to write letters to the editor about CAIR’s alleged ties to terror.

Ahmed’s latest blog post attempts to minimize the significance of the arrests relating to the plot to blow up JFK airport.

FrontPage further notes that:

CAIR has consistently shown sympathy for overseas terrorist groups and their activities. In fact, CAIR’s actions led Senator Charles Shumer, D-NY, to declare, “We know [CAIR] has ties to terrorism.”

Are Ted Strickland and his administration so out of touch with reality that they saw this event as just another “Kumbaya” moment? Is Ohio’s (and the nation’s) press so apathetic and gullible to think that the governor’s appearance at CAIR-Ohio with the organization’s national chairman in attendance is just another relatively meaningless banquet-circuit event?

The governor’s appearance was very long on naivete, very short on sound judgment, and gave a dose of legitimacy to an organization that most certainly doesn’t deserve it. It’s hard not to think that Ohio’s media, some of whom surely received CAIR’s press release and are aware of CAIR’s activities, are carrying the governor’s water.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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FOOTNOTE: I suppose that, as more posts appear throughout the day at other SOB blogs, Ohio’s leftosphere will consider this one of those “coordinated” thingies. Truth be told, I got an e-mail tip from a reader, found a link, and let other SOBs know about it. I did suggest that they sit on it overnight to see what Ohio’s press did with it (as expected, nothing). Otherwise, what they’re doing with this news is up to them.

If this is “coordination,” it’s the same concept John McConnell of Worthington Industries has used, and it has worked pretty well: “People talk to each other.” Imagine that.

Sometimes, as in this case, other information unexpectedly arrives that helps to bolster the points being made. You really should read the entire LGF entry, and the linked FrontPage column by Patrick Poole, to get a flavor for what’s going on right here in the Buckeye State.

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UPDATE: I suppose someone will want to administer some grief over this

“I would like to salute the Ohio chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations as well as the national office for their support and sponsorship of this annual event [Islamic Day] and for contributing to the diversity of the state of Ohio.”
-Ohio Governor Bob Taft (R)

The quote isn’t dated, but it is certainly from before 1/1/07. People identified by party on the linked list are about 80-20 Dem-GOP (28-7, by my count).

Four Five things:
- CAIR wasn’t an unindicted co-conspirator then; it is now. That covers other dhimmi politicians (who all really should have known better anyway) who might have lent credibility to CAIR before this year.
- This blogger called for Taft to resign several times, so I don’t exactly have a membership in the blind-belief GOP Fan Club.
- I don’t recall any negative leftist reaction to Taft’s appearance. There was negative reaction on the right.
- See Schumer quote above.
- The point about the “mysterious” non-coverage by Ohio’s media remains.

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Follow-up:
- June 21 — Strickland-CAIR Followup: Not in Our Name, Guv (Not in Our Old Media Coverage, Either)
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OTHER POSTS (to be refreshed from time to time during the day):
- California Conservative goes into detail about the Holy Land Foundation, which was shut down by the Treasury Department in 2001, per this press release.
- Right Angle Blog has lots of background, including a somewhat-related journey into Ted Strickland’s congressional past.
- Matt at Weapons of Mass Discussion has a great post with a great title — “Taxin’ Ted CAIRS”
- Columbuser
- Central Ohioans Against Terrorism — In a different post, he notes that “counterterrorism experts have identified the Central Ohio area as one of the top five ‘hot spots’ for terrorist activity in the country.”
- Interested-Participant
- Nasty, Brutish & Short
- Brian at One Oar in the Water has a great post going into intense detail about the Muslim Brotherhood that should be bookmarked.
- Invincible Armor
- MORE — Pain Dealer, Blog-o-Fascists, Little Green Footballs, Inzax, Right Wing Champ, The Virtuous Republic.
- (June 20) NixGuy notes that the Ohio Media snooze continues, and an RAB comment about the near-instant and heavy coverage a visit by GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell to a gun-rights backer received last year.
- (June 20) Crush Liberalism, Hot Air, Cristy Li, Unmitigated Gall, Right on the Right, America’s Victory ’08, Wizbang, Dhimmi Watch.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (061907)

Google and Ebay have been in a major territorial spat. Surprise — Google appears to the one that has been forced to feast on humble pie. It’s apparently not a good idea to mess with Meg Whitman.

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You know things have been turned backwards when the common-sense, time-tested advice that immigrants learn to speak a country’s common language to get ahead is criticized (HT Illegal Protest) by people who claim to be “leaders.”

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In a subscription-only op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Marie Anastasia O’Grady fears that the second coming of Danny Ortega may be worse than the first:

Like Soviet communism before it, Islamic fundamentalism has a strategic interest in establishing a foothold in the Western Hemisphere. But until recently its ability to penetrate the region seemed limited to the lawless border area in South America’s southern cone, where Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina meet. Now, thanks to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, access to the Caribbean — which State Department officials refer to as the U.S.’s “third border” — is direct.

It’s not surprising that Mr. Ortega smells opportunity here. When the Soviets wanted what Iran now wants, they paid good money and the Sandinista commandante was the beneficiary…..

….. (he) has apparently decided to market his country’s comparative real estate advantages to the mullahs. Ergo, his trip to Tehran, where he pledged solidarity with the Ayatollah and revolution. What exactly he has promised Iran in exchange matters not only to Nicaraguans but to the U.S. as well.

Mike Farrell was apparently unavailable for comment.

Background on the election that swept Ortega and the Sandinistas out of power in 1990 is here.

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Journalistic malpractice gets used in a situation that borders on being medical malpractice. Instapundit calls it “cruel and unusual punishment.”
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In a subscription-only Wall Street Journal op-ed, Daniel Schwammenthal reveals that since those pesky European voters won’t approve the EU “constitution,” EU leaders want to shove it down their throats:

In a nutshell, Europeans leaders have a similar plan for their Constitution. They’re selling their citizens the same bill of goods that French and Dutch voters firmly rejected in 2005. The sleight of hand here is to pretend that the two-year “reflection period” has produced something different, which the EU hopes voters will buy without even insisting on a serious discussion of its merits. Referendums won’t be necessary to ratify this version, claim German Chancellor Angela Merkel & Co., who want to strike a deal at their summit later this week.

Merkel’s participation in this ruse is deeply disappointing. An earlier British tabloid piece claiming that departing British Prime Minister Tony Blair is also on board with this disgraceful effort appears to be at least partially true, according to Schwammenthal:

More attuned to voter wishes than his Continental counterparts, Mr. Blair has taken note of the 2005 rejections by trying to drop the most ambitious parts of Giscard’s text. This is also a way he or, more to the point, the next British Prime Minister Gordon Brown can justify skipping a referendum. Mr. Blair had promised a popular vote on the original Constitution.

Whatever final text is agreed in Brussels, Mr. Brown will have to choose between offending his voters by dropping the referendum or angering the Brussels crowd and other national leaders by calling one.

The PU from the EU is getting particularly putrid. And isn’t it “amazing” how little coverage this is receiving in the US?

Techdirt’s Take on Ohio’s Data Loss

Filed under: Privacy/ID Theft,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:02 am

Carlo Longino said it, I didn’t:

….. in Ohio, the governor has announced that the names and Social Security numbers of 64,000 state employees are out in the wild — after a storage device containing them was stolen from an intern’s car. Yes, you read that correctly. We’ve wondered in the past just why people are carrying around so much personal information, but the governor claims that it was part of a “protocol intended to keep backup copies of data in case it was lost on state computer systems.” Yes, apparently this protocol says that important information should be backed up on storage devices, then given to interns so they can store them in their cars for safekeeping.

Positivity: Mason girl rhymes her way to being published

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

From Mason, OH:

Last Updated: 5:03 pm | Thursday, May 31, 2007

MASON – Some poets will never know what it’s like to have their work published, but Katie Hibner will – at 10 years old.

The Mason Intermediate fourth-grader recently received word that her poem “The Sunrise” was selected for publication in Creative Kids magazine.

The quarterly publication is the nation’s largest magazine for children.

Her family, classmates and school think it’s a big deal – there was a buildingwide announcement about her accomplishment.

If you ask Hibner about it, though, the soft-spoken girl with a ready smile is mum on the issue and said she doesn’t know what the fuss is about.

“I didn’t write it thinking it would be published,” Hibner said. “I didn’t think this would happen, but I’m happy.”

Go here for rest of the story.