Intercepts

Egregious NY Times e-vote error?

Defense Department officials selected Omega Technologies Inc. of Alexandria, Va., earlier this year to fax ballots to and from troops deployed overseas so they can vote in next month's elections under a program called the Electronic Transmission Service (ETS).

In a Sept. 3 editorial, the Gray Lady declares Omega was not an acceptable choice to run the program because the company's president and chief executive officer, Patricia Williams, had given $6,600 to the Republican National Committee. The editorial states that Omega officials were far too secretive to be entrusted with the votes in a presidential election.

This sure seemed like a good story to pursue, until we talked to Williams and found out an interesting fact that the Times had either withheld or ignored. Williams, a 20-year Army veteran, said she does indeed make political contributions and has written checks to the Democrats equal to the amount she gave the Republicans. She follows a hedge strategy that executives at a slew of government contractors also pursue.

The Times editorial also states that an obvious concern about ETS and Omega is that ballots could be lost in transit or altered, implying that Omega was part of a Republican cabal to hijack troops' votes. Williams said this was not technically possible. Because the company operates a fax-based, pass-through system, Omega officials never touch the ballots.

Williams said ETS is operated in a secure room by employees who are not allowed to take even a piece of notepaper into the room.

Bet she's glad she doesn't have to deal with hanging chads.

DISA's VOIP master plan

We encountered the Defense Information Systems Agency director, Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege, at a Network Centric Operations Conference in Atlantic City, N.J., last month, and he told us that DISA officials have moved from studying combined data and voice-over-IP networks to developing a converged network master plan. Sure wish someone would send us a copy.

Raduege said DISA officials will take a cautious approach to a combined network to ensure that they still have redundant capabilities to protect critical command and control systems in case the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network burps.

The Navy voice-over-IP vision thing

Whether they have a master plan or not, it becomes clearer every day that DISA officials are playing catch-up with voice over IP.

Not only do Navy officials want to add the technology to the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, but they also have bold plans to add it to shipboard systems, according to a Navy secretary vision plan released last month.

According to the Navy secretary's "Vision, Presence, Power" plan, released Sept. 21, the Automated Digital Network System program run by the Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego is "engaged in converging all voice, video, and data communications between ship and shore."

Navy officials have already equipped 258 ships with Cisco Systems Inc. routers. Charlie Booth, Cisco's naval warfare manager, said he believes it would be best to add Cisco voice-over-IP gizmos to those routers. Bill Laurie, Navy, Marine and Coast Guard global account manager at Avaya Inc., said he thinks the best way to stay afloat with voice over IP is to use Avaya voice switches that are already installed on ships and can easily be upgraded to accommodate the new technology. This should be an interesting food fight.

Cyber Security Awareness Month Tip #3

We continue to support the Homeland Security Department in its celebration of October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month with some helpful tips, but we are having a hard time getting it right.

We've been told not to use Dan Snyder, the name of the owner of the Washington Redskins, as a password, because it's too short.

Fine. Try Brobdingnagian. You really have to be a fan of Swift — Jonathan, not the boat — to get this one.

Intercept something? Send it to bbrewin@fcw.com.

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