Secretive documents and files detailing an advanced code-breaking, anti-encryption supercomputer co-developed by the Department of Defense, IBM and New York University, undoubtedly for use by the National Security Agency, were discovered completely unsecured “in the cloud” on a backup server used by NYU, according to Breitbart.
The treasure trove of secret information was discovered by an American digital security researcher named “Adam,” who both for a living and as a hobby searches the internet for things that shouldn’t be on the internet, according to a lengthy and technically-detailed report from The Intercept.
The report noted how the server belonged to NYU’s prestigious Institute for Mathematics and Advanced Supercomputing, and described how it held “confidential information on an advanced code-breaking machine that had never before been described in public. Dozens of documents spanning hundreds of pages detailed the project, a joint supercomputing initiative administered by NYU, the Department of Defense, and IBM.”
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The supercomputer-driven anti-encryption program was code-named “WindsorGreen,” and is believed to be the successor to a similar project known as “WindsorBlue,” which had been exposed publicly several years ago by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
“The fact that this software, these spec sheets, and all the manuals to go with it were sitting out in the open for anyone to copy is just simply mind-blowing,” Adam (not his real name) told The Intercept.
“All of this leaky data is courtesy of what I can only assume are misconfigurations in the IMAS department at NYU,” he added. “Not even a single username or password separates these files from the public internet right now. It’s absolute insanity.”
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It was noted that NYU immediately took down all of the files after being notified of their presence on the unsecured server.
Science Alert pointed out that the exposure of the files could very well have been just a simple accidental oversight, as the entire email archive of a top mathematician involved in the project, David Chudnovsky, was also freely available on the server, including emails he had sent and received from members of the U.S. military.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the discovery — aside from the obvious implications regarding government spying and citizen privacy (or lack thereof) — is the fact that enemy and rival nations’ intelligence services, like those of China, Russia, Iran or North Korea, could have also easily discovered and obtained this information before it was taken down.
“Let’s, just for hypotheticals, say that China found the same exposed NYU lab server that I did and downloaded all the stuff I downloaded,” Adam told The Intercept. “That simple act alone, to a large degree, negates a humongous competitive advantage we thought the U.S. had over other countries when it comes to supercomputing.”
It is worth noting that the files detailing the WindsorGreen project were all dated between 2005 and 2012, with some of those details indicating that the project would be ready to go live by 2014, meaning this particular anti-encryption supercomputer could very well already be hard at work breaking intricate codes, if not already rendered obsolete by an even more advanced supercomputer project that still remains a closely-held secret at this time.
It truly is stunning that such secret information regarding an advanced supercomputer was essentially left lying around for anybody to find, and this situation illustrates the dire need for what can only be described as a complete overhaul of the cyber security measures and procedures utilized by our government and the top institutions that work alongside it.
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