Some days ago I’ve published a post about retrogaming: today I’d like to talk about another piece of modern art, floppy disks!
In these years, when most of us have switched to USB sticks, someone has never abandoned them: the American army.
As several reports have also shown, the U.S. Department of Defense continued to use it to coordinate nuclear bombers and ballistic missiles, and only in 2017 did it announce that it would do without them two years later. And guess what? That time has come.
Lt. Col. Jason Rossi told c4isrnet.com, a specialized site, that last June the Pentagon replaced floppy disks with a “highly-secure solid state digital storage solution”.
Actually, the privileges in terms of reliability were in fact one of the main reasons why the US army had not yet done without the old floppy disks.
According with this article by Brian Fung, published in the Washington Post, floppy disks were in fact considered inviolable, unlike other more advanced systems connected to digital networks, which could be targeted by cybercriminals.
Floppy disks, however, are only one of the old-fashioned systems that the army has used, at least until recently, to manage the SAACS (Strategic Automated Command and Control System), the communication network that the Pentagon uses to share intelligence information and send launch orders.
Among the other vintage items supplied, there are also IBM Series 1 computers.
I’ve already written about this topic in 2016, and at that time the agency’s plan was to update its systems by the end of fiscal year 2017, but we do not know exactly whether they were replaced or whether the update is still a work in progress.
In the interview, Rossi just said that the system has improved in terms of speed and connectivity.
In any case, he doesn’t seem to consider this backwardness a real problem:
I joke with people and say it’s the Air Force’s oldest IT system. But it’s the age that provides that security, you can’t hack something that doesn’t have an IP address. It’s a very unique system — it is old and it is very goodLt. Col. Jason Rossi