Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Little Nuclear XP Insanity

Britain's Doomsday Nuke Subs Still Run Windows XP:

I'm not THAT concerned about Windows XP on a nuke sub from a "virus / hacking" POV.

A). Of all the Windows OS offerings, XP was "as good as it got".

B). It isn't very hard to "harden" a nuke sub against outside hacking -- like, it would be the BEST definition of a "hardened ENVIRONMENT" around. They don't do Facebook and games because they don't have an Internet connection ... outside network connect, is not really a problem. You don't drive up to one and sniff the WiFi!

But from an OPERATIONAL POV ... as in, if I or somebody I loved was on one of these, YES, I'd be concerned and TICKED!

That said, it is a pretty good example of "government in action". My expertise in cellular telephone networks is pretty minimal -- little over a year putting together the pieces for an IBM project that we got to proof of concept demo before they cancelled it.

What I DO know however that something called "Open Carrier Grade Base Platforms" exist! Hardened Linux base OS in different flavors set up to be multiply redundant and fail-over for "all hardware and software eventualities" ... naturally, like all human efforts, this isn't "perfect", but it gets you up in the .9999(?) kinds of failure probability. The number of "9's" is a serious technical question ... they really DO want to come as close to KNOWING what they odds are, because it probably means another level of complete backup solution for "graceful degradation" (meaning it doesn't just stop, it "limps").

These sorts of systems relate to XP as Air Force One relates to an older radio controlled model airplane ...

The fact that government military even considers "COTS" (Common Off The Shelf) software for applications like these is a testament to the complete insanity at the interaction of "Politics / Lobbying / Lowest Bidder / Government Employee Unions".

It isn't just the Brits ... at least in '98, the US Navy had NT problems on a ship -- NT might be "better", but still a FAR cry from "Carrier Grade" (a bit funny if you read that in a Navy context ;-) ).

Can "free / democratic" governments survive? My usual issue is if voters can be informed enough to select reasonable leadership, or not just try to vote themselves a lot of "Free Stuff" out of the pockets of others. (Gee, did I hear that BS is in the lead in IA?)

Looking at decisions like using XP proves that the list of reasons that the answer to that may well be NO includes simple organizational incompetence on technical matters!

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