Intercepts

What you do with two pianos if you're not Ferrante and Teicher

That's the problem Defense Information Systems Agency Director Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Croom and his new wife, Gail Cole -- their wedding was Oct. 29 -- faced as they merged households.

Croom and Cole, who works in the copyright office of the Library of Congress, both own upright pianos and decided that one piano was all they needed. So they dispensed with the uprights and bought a six-foot grand piano, which Croom said cost far more than $1,000.

Croom, who learned to play the piano as a child, said he plays for relaxation and favors show tunes. His favorite classical piece is Chopin's Nocturne in E-Flat. It's comforting to know we have a DISA director who not only plays the piano but also loves a Chopin piece renowned for its striking beauty and exquisite intricacy.

We're tired of generals who golf to the exclusion of everything else outside the office.

The DISA pandemic plan

Croom said he is still working on a continuity-of-operations plan but has already taken an important step to battle avian flu. "I've told everyone [at DISA] not to handle chickens," Croom said.

We're going to adopt the same policy at Federal Computer Week as our contribution to the avian flu battle.

Hack attacks confirmed

Croom confirmed what we have been reporting for a long time: Defense Department networks are under attack from many folks, ranging from low-level hackers to state-sponsored groups. He declined to say whether any of the latter attacks originated with the Chinese hacker syndicate Titan Rain.

The Ukrainian connection

While on the topic of the hacking of DOD networks, the Interceptors picked up a signals intercept at the 2005 Federal Information Assurance Conference a few weeks ago in College Park, Md., that brokers in Ukraine are selling military files and passwords on the proverbial black market.

DOD Secretary Donald Rumsfeld just got back from his trip to Asia. We're waiting to hear whether he talked with Chinese or Ukrainian officials about hacking concerns.

The official word on RFID interference

We reported in August that Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Robert Shea, the Joint Staff's director of command, control, communications and computer systems, had concerns that radio frequency identification tags and readers could interfere with and degrade the performance of critical DOD radar systems.

Some RFID folks took exception to this report. But we have come across a memo stating that the DOD chief information officer's office is in the process of updating its wireless policy, DOD Directive 8100.2, to address concerns about RFID interference.

The new policy will also look at the potential of bad guys using RFID tags to intercept information. The office is also considering the possibility of encrypting RFID data, although no commercial solution exists -- and all tags used by DOD are commercial.

We haven't heard of any confirmed case of interference, but the fact that DOD officials are looking at the issue is interesting.

Monkey see, monkey do

The Air Force information technology folks at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., beat DOD's Base Realignment and Closure Commission's recommendation to move their jobs to Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. We picked up another signals intercept at the Milcom conference last month in Atlantic City, N.J., that Army IT workers at Fort Monmouth, N.J., are scheming to keep their positions from going to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

We hear Army IT leaders are plotting to move their offices down the road to Fort Dix, N.J. The rationale is BRAC recommended closing Fort Monmouth, so why not allow employees to remain local?

Army IT workers with whom we dined at the Milcom luncheons were not thrilled about moving to the land of the black-eyed Susan. Among many of the reasons they don't want to move is the fine Italian cuisine in the Garden State.

We can't blame 'em.

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

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