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The alleged ‘basic tech problems’ aren’t.

Blackberry has minute market share. It isn’t targeted by general malware, which limits exposure. There are likely agents who still make malware for Blackberry, but it’s far less of a constant threat than the average user downloading something that exposes the gov’t. Mac computers have less risk to malware than Windows purely because there’s a lower market share and generalized malware writers don’t bother hunting small fry, it’s the same principle. Apple maintains tight restrictions on apps with iOS yet those can be jailbroken, but Android is a free for all. Blackberry knows it’s used by governments and has a much higher standard for security than other phone OSes. That’s why drug lords use them too.

The OPM hack is suspected to have been professional Chinese hackers targeting the US government. That doesn’t excuse the lax standards in place since there were previous warnings and reports that it was vulnerable. But from what I’ve read, the hackers socially engineered some basic credentials to access the system, which doesn’t require any technical ability. I’m an engineer, not a programmer, but the malware they installed to gather the data doesn’t sound that complicated if the hard part is getting in. It’s not like they have to overcome a strong encryption standard if they have a username and password to access it like a normal user.

The nuclear program uses floppy disks because it’s proven and reliable. DoD and the rest use old programming languages because they are reliable. This is like the least concerning ‘outdated’ thing that the government does. Those computers aren’t installing newer software. A Model T made 100 years ago can drive just fine so long as its maintained. The B-52 was designed during the Korean War and we are going to be flying those things for another 30–40 years. A first generation iPod with first generation software will work as well in 2016 as it did in 2001.

It’s kind of concerning that a tech writer wouldn’t let readers know about these things.

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