Thursday, October 13, 2016

NSA contractors take work home the old-fashioned way


A story on p. A3 of the Washington Post Thursday morning (Oct. 13) by Ellen Nakashima and Matt Zapotosky, “A low-tech scheme for NSA suspect?” points out a lingering security problem from the past for many employers.  “Officials say he may have simply left workplace with printed-out papers”, the story sidebar says.  The story is here.  I believe there are other office buildings, off the NSA campus, where contractors work in the Columbia MD area, along US 29 or along US 1 toward Baltimore.
 
When I worked for mainframe shops in the 1980s and 1990s, we took work home all the time.  In the late 1980s, a major billing implementation in Dallas was tested by running full parallels with production data and the QA manager actually took printouts home just to check them.  In the 1990s, I kept full compiles and some file-compare printouts and sample runs at home just to have around to look at, if any problem occurred to me.
 
Of course, in the 80s and 90s, there was not nearly the sensitivity about consumer PII that there is today. Even so, my own first experience with a personal credit card getting compromised would happen in 1995, with telephone charges in Canada showing up on a Merrill Lynch visa card.  

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