In an article published today by Computerworld, it was revealed that the details of a US Secret Service safe house – one meant for the US First family in the event of a national emergency – had been leaked over peer-to-peer networks using the popular LimeWire client.
This is of course not the fault of LimeWire and there’s no reason why Mark Gorton, chairman of Lime Group, should have been lambasted at today’s hearing. It is also not the first time sensitive information has been leaked over peer-to-peer networks (think motorcades, nuclear facilities, presidential helicopter, terrorist threat assessments, mortgage data, M&A plans, healthcare data) the list is virtually endless. This is all of course without considering the extremely elevated threat from malware over (often) unscanned P2P connections to untrusted devices sharing illegal software and data. It has long been the case that distributing malware along with your warez over file-sharing networks is almost de rigeur.
In many ways, the nature of the data that was leaked is secondary to the potential conclusion that can be drawn from the reaction to this latest event.
According to the Computerworld article “The disclosures prompted the chairman of the committee Rep. Edolphus Towns, (D-N.Y.), to call for a ban on the use of peer-to-peer (P2P) software on all government and contractor computers and networks. “For our sensitive government information, the risk is simply too great to ignore,” said Towns”
Does this mean that installations of P2P software are not already banned on sensitive networks? Does this mean that machines that routinely, or even occasionally, handle sensitive data are not deployed in a locked down configuration where the user has no administrative rights? Does this mean that government network admins do not have visibility over who is using rogue software on their networks? It certainly seems that way and this just reinforces the message about low-hanging fruit in my previous post.
If you are concerned about the proliferation of rogue services or unwanted applications inside your environment (not to mention malware) take a look at the Threat Management Solution.