Data on President's Helicopter Breached

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Print this article Print


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Security firm Tiversa says it's discovered a breach through a file sharing network that released sensitive information about Marine One to a computer in Iran.

A Pennsylvania security company reportedly uncovered a breach through peer-to-peer file sharing of sensitive information related the design plans, cost and avionics of President Barack Obama’s helicopter.

According to report broadcast by WPXI in Pittsburgh, security firm Tiversa uncovered a breach in which files related to the president’s helicopter fleet were disclosed by a government defense contractor in Maryland to a computer with an IP address in Tehran, Iran.

"What appears to be a defense contractor in Bethesda, Md., had a file sharing program on one of their systems that also contained highly sensitive blueprints for Marine One," Bob Boback, CEO of Tiversa, told WPXI.

Tiversa, an ISV that provides secure data transfer services and security applications for peer-to-peer data exchanges, has informed government authorities of the breach, and an investigation is reportedly under way.

In addition to the blueprints and avionics package information, the breached data included costs for building and maintaining the helicopter used by the White House to ferry the president to Andrews Air Force Base, Camp David in the Maryland Mountains and other locations around Washington, D.C.

"We found where this information came from," Retired Air Force Gen. Wesley Clark, an adviser to Tiversa, said in the WPXI report. "We know exactly what computer it came from. I'm sure that person is embarrassed and may even lose their job, but we know where it came from and we know where it went."

Marine One is the designation and call sign for the military helicopter when the president is on board. The White House fleet actually has nearly two dozen VH-3D and VH-60N helicopters flown by a U.S. Marine Corps air wing. The helicopter fleet is due for replacement with the VH-71 Kestrel at a cost of nearly $12 billion. The replacement program has come under sharp criticism by congressional leaders because of the cost.

According to published reports, Tiversa believes the breach happened when the defense contractor downloaded a file sharing application, such as those used for sharing music, and unwittingly opened his computer for sharing all files with the general public.

"When downloading one of these file sharing programs, you are effectively allowing others around the world to access your hard drive," Boback said.

Tiversa told WPXI that it’s discovered that several foreign elements—including parties in China, Pakistan and Yemen—are using P2P networks and file sharing attacks to gain access to sensitive materials.

Calls by Channel Insider to Tiversa and the White House for comment were not returned.


Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.

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