Friday, 29 February 2008

Return to Sender?

We live in a dangerous world and, for better or worse, we are forced to rely upon the military to make it just a little bit safer. Now don't get me wrong here, I have nothing against the military as such, they do a difficult job in dangerous circumstances and I wouldn't want to do that job myself etc.

But, equally, the modern world of warfare, with its high-tec, quick-kill weapons and mercurial targets, can live without Colonel Blimp. We need smart, savvy warriors, not some lantern-jawed mannequin in a uniform. Which is why this story in the Telegraph is very, very worrying indeed.

It seems that Mr Gary Sinnott, of Mildenhall, Suffolk, wanted to promote his home town and set a website for that very purpose at the address (I'm not giving the fully qualified URL, or linking to it, for reasons that should become obvious below). So far, so good, you might think, very public spirited of him.

Unfortunately, Mildenhall is also home to a bloody great US Air Force base, which appears to have a domain name remarkably similar to that chosen by Mr Sinnott - I have no idea what that domain name is, but I'd imagine, being of the military persuasion, it might be .mil domain. There'd be nothing unfortunate about that if various bods in the US military could tell the difference between a .com domain and a .mil domain, but that would be asking too much, wouldn't it?

Yep, you guessed it, poor Mr Sinnott's inbox has been inundated with confidential - as in VERY, VERY confidential - information, all mailed to a total stranger by the folks in charge of those high-tec, quick-kill weapons I mentioned earlier. In fact, the only way Mr Sinnott has been able to stop the US Air Force from spamming him with such minor information as presidential flight paths and top-secret passwords was to give them the damn domain name.

Which, if you think about it, isn't actually stopping the plonkers from making mistakes, it's just making sure that it doesn't matter when they do. I suspect it's rather harder to do that with other aspects of military operations - like, for eg, pointing missiles at the right target - and I very much hope someone rather more competent and technologically savvy is in charge of that!

In the meantime, I hope the US Air Force at least compensated Mr Sinnott for his trouble - sending spam's illegal in the US, isn't it?

Billy Seggars.

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