Saturday, August 1, 2009

Obama's emergency escape plan leaked online

SENSITIVE documents including plans for the emergency evacuation of US President Barack Obama and motorcade routes have been leaked on a file-sharing network, authorities say.

Chairman of the US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Edolphus Towns said the documents had been discovered with file-sharing program LimeWire.

Other sensitive documents found with the peer-to-peer program included FBI files, medical records and social security numbers.

Mr Town used evidence of the leaks to argue for the regulation of file-sharing programs.

"As far as I am concerned, the days of self-regulation should be over for the file-sharing industry," Mr Towns said.

"In the last administration, the Federal Trade Commission took a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil approach to the file sharing software industry.

"I hope the new administration is revisiting that approach."

Mr Towns, a New York Democrat, said he planned to introduce legislation that would ban unsecure peer-to-peer software from all government and contractor computers and networks.

He also planned the request Federal Trade Commission investigate whether inadequate safeguards on file-sharing software like LimeWire constituted an unfair trade practice.

LimeWire founder and chairman Mark Gorton defended his company, saying any inadvertent sharing had been fixed in the newest version of the software and steps had been taken to put the user more in control.

"Are we perfect? No, (but) we have made enormous strides in the last few years," he told the committee.

"In order for a LimeWire user to change their default settings to enable document sharing, they have to click nine times and disregard three warnings."

Evidence of the leaked documents was given to the committee by online security and intelligence company Tiversa.

Tiversa boss Robert Boback criticised LimeWire, saying the program was also used to distribute child pornography as well as sensitive documents.

He said peer-to-peer software had made it dangerously easy for snoopers to unearth extremely private information – easier than rifling through someone's trash.

"Why go dumpster diving?" Mr Boback said.

Peer-to-peer, or P2P, is a type of network in which files are stored on many computers at once rather than one central server. It is used by most current file-sharing programs.

This is not the first time Tiversa has revealed sensitive documents found on file-sharing networks.

In March the company found classified information about Marine One, the helicopter used to transport Mr Obama, Computerworld reported.



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