OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: MSD's Leaky Servers

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  • Sacha, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    this breach seems to make Keith's revelations all the more remarkable

    Crikey. Maybe that was related to the work a year ago that Brereton mentioned?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16838 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    it really helps to keep in mind that what’s obvious or “easy” for you might not be for everyone in the room

    And vice versa, sir. As I noted, some of us have more than just our personal experience to draw on about general expertise levels at things like opening files.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16838 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Deborah,

    Really, please do me the courtesy of taking my word for it when I say that I really don’t understand the inner workings of computers.

    Your situation is being used to suppoort a politicised argument that no one could have known - that it was generically 'not easy'. That is just rubbish.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16838 posts Report Reply

  • Tinshed, in reply to ,

    Congratulations for Godwinning the thread.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Jul 2008 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Hamish,

    Don't feed the troll.

    The A.K. • Since Nov 2006 • 152 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah, in reply to Sacha,

    Alternatively, my lack of understanding of computers, despite being pretty well educated, points to a need for IT savvy people to be much more aware of the jargon they use, and the assumptions they make about how much other people do, or don't, know about computers.

    What does "mapping a computer" mean?

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1328 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    and Paula Bennett’s head on a spike would totally restore my confidence

    To be serious, She of course has no control over this. Her losing her job would not in any way make this all better.

    BUT

    Like the CEO part of her job is accepting responsibility for the actions of the staff under her control. That is part of the reason she is paid as much as she is ... not because her job is hard, but because she takes on a responsibility for the actions of people over whom she has very little actual control.

    That's a shitty position to be in, essentially she might lose her job because someone far beneath her fucked up, but that is also part of the job she took on. Along with all the good bits like having the power to make changes (for good or ill) come responsibility.

    I get annoyed with people who take on those roles but are unwilling to accept responsibility.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3444 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Oh go away, James George. Your comparison of Paula Bennett to the Nazis is offensive. I hold no brief for Bennett, but she certainly doesn't deserve that. Take your odious comparisons somewhere else.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1328 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood, in reply to Deborah,

    If I was to give the Mac equivalent of this, in a program when you go up to the File menu and use the Open command, you get the window where you choose the file you want to open. On the left sidebar of that window are various shortcuts to places on the computer. If you are on a network with other computers, amongst these shortcuts are computers offering their files to your computer (in a part of the sidebar called Shared). On a Windows computer, rather than seeing these computers in an area marked Shared there is a button called My Network Places that people click on. That is more or less the technical difficulty involved.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • James George,

    I must find it interesting that those who claim not to know how to navigate around a machine they spend a large part of the day using hold views generally in line with those some deem to be 'sheeple'. I volunteer showing people the rudiments of managing windows systems and have noticed the same thing. Those with inquisitive minds have played around on their system and can do usually already everything they need to. The computer illiterates are the ones who tend to accept what they are told by 'the people in charge'. they think that politicians have their best interests at heart because thinking otherwise hurts their brain, "and anyway did ya see those AB's win didn't 'we' do well, the world will notice little old NZ now".

    Since Sep 2007 • 92 posts Report Reply

  • duke, in reply to Jonathan King,

    Quite. Really who hasn't used the 'Open...' option in a file menu!? Or didn't they read the post..

    Since Jul 2009 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • cognitive_hazard, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    This is incompetence on an epic scale. If this happened at any private enterprise heads would roll top to bottom, why should Govt be any different.

    New Zealand • Since Oct 2012 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Mind you, you know exactly who could (would) do what Keith did? Bored, inquisitive, mildly anti-social young men...

    .... who have children hidden from them in CYFS care, and have just been given enough information to find them.

    I read this column last night, and had to go to bed and have a wee cry. And it wasn't just because my daughter's had dealings with Youth Specialty Service that involved funded counselling and drugs.

    I was one of those kids. For two years in the 70s, my family was in hiding from my father. He had access rights: on one of those visits he managed to trick me into telling him where we were living (I was six, okay), and we had to move. I had to change schools. The very information Keith has detailed here, which would have been on Social Welfare's files about us, would have been sufficient for my dad to at least find my school and wait for me. He could have used me to find my home, and my mother. She could have died.

    If we were in that situation now, all he'd need is some unsupervised time on a kiosk, and the technical knowledge to open a file in Word.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4371 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Deborah,

    a need for IT savvy people to be much more aware of the jargon they use, and the assumptions they make about how much other people do, or don't, know about computers.

    Totally agree with you there - as do all the other recovering technical writers in this community, I'd imagine. :)

    The same issues apply to public involvement in our own security and informed consent as our details go online. Making sure that this stuff is understandable for everyone has to be a bigger priority than it has been.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16838 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah, in reply to David Hood,

    Thanks, David. That makes sense. I think Heather Gaye's point about jargon is a good one, and something for people front footing this story to be very, very aware of when they are trying to explain what has happened, and how easy it was.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1328 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    Excellent work, Keith.

    I think the is easy/isn't easy debate is unnecessary. I agree with Craig and Deborah - it would not have been easy for them to get the data. You'd need to have understanding of the directory structures that are shown to you, and be able to guess which ones had the data you were interested in. That's a world a way from Clippy chiming in with "You look like you are downloading secret documents, would you like some help with that ?"

    This doesn't make John Key's statements true, however. It would have been easy for someone interested in accessing the private data.

    I'm an IT professional and I'm appalled at this lack of security, especially since the issue was raise on a number of occasions. I would like to see some accountability, starting with Bennett's resignation, but I don't expect Key do more than blame the IT contractors who installed the kiosks.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 456 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to James George,

    those who claim not to know how to navigate around a machine they spend a large part of the day using hold views generally in line with those some deem to be 'sheeple'.

    Now that's just insulting. People have many reasons for their level of engagement with the tools we use. Deborah's car example is good.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16838 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    This is the nature of business in NZ, worship the MBA and management experience dismiss the experience of the workers as irrelevent.

    The very same pseudo-meritocracy that's ripped into by Chris Hayes in Twilight of the Elites.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4403 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Emma Hart,

    That's full-on. There must be many people around the country feeling worried right now.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16838 posts Report Reply

  • duke, in reply to Deborah,

    A computer’s just a tool that I use to do my job and other things that I find interesting. Just like my car, I can do basic things like loading new software, and sorting out a printer connection, and changing my desktop picture, but that’s about it. I don’t want to spend effort understanding the rest or fiddling about with it, so I hand those tasks over to experts.

    Given the way things are headed, scratch that, how they _are_ (ubiquitous computing. It may be wise to revise the wilful ignortanc attitude "just a tool". Knowledge will set you free Deb. Or deliver confidential WINZ info unto thee enlightened.

    Since Jul 2009 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    It does strike me that after four years of cutbacks, redundancies, laughable or non-existent pay rises and general management bullshit, the tide of dontgiveafuck in most government departments (and quite a lot of private sector organisations) has risen to a fairly high level. Especially when government believes that non-customer-facing staff are a pointless tier of bureaucracy.

    Eventually, that impacts service.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4484 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    “accessing the information wasn’t easy”

    I'm guessing WINZ would happily send someone on a course to develop the skills it takes.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1096 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to jacqui scott,

    cant get hold of privacy commision answer phone typical i need to find out if my info was safe or has it been acessed help what do i do

    If the Privacy Commisioner's office are too busy to pick up their phones I don't have any other ideas for who could help you than perhaps MSD themselves. Guess that's not reasuring.

    Can anyone else help Jacqui out?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16838 posts Report Reply

  • James George, in reply to Sacha,

    Sorry I didn't come into here to have an argument (I signed up for the hitting yerself on the head class) but after many years of helping people use computers I have to say that for a person who spends a good deal of their days on computers as Craig & Deborah obviously do ( judging by the numbers of their posts), not knowing how to navigate a local area network is more like never learning how to put the car in reverse or refusing to drive on motorways, than not understanding about fuel injection.

    Since Sep 2007 • 92 posts Report Reply

  • Hamish, in reply to Deborah,

    Thanks Emma, for putting this starkly into perspective.

    Also, hearing that the files were writeable (editable).

    That makes this even worse, which is saying something.

    The A.K. • Since Nov 2006 • 152 posts Report Reply

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