Loss of Secret Service texts from Jan. 6 baffles experts - The Washington Post

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  jbb  •  2 months ago  •  87 comments

By:   Drew Harwell,Will Oremus (Washington Post)

Loss of Secret Service texts from Jan. 6 baffles experts - The Washington Post
Experts are divided over whether the disappearance of phone data from around the time of the insurrection is a sign of incompetence or an intentional coverup.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



Cybersecurity specialists said the agency bungled a routine task by telling agents to back up their own records, which is 'not something any other organization would ever do'


By Drew Harwell,Will Oremus andJoseph MennUpdated July 29, 2022 at 3:52 p.m. EDT|Published July 29, 2022 at 3:03 p.m. EDT Listen 14 min Comment on this storyComment Gift Article Share

Cybersecurity experts and former government leaders are stunned by how poorly the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security handled the preservation of officials' text messages and other data from around Jan. 6, 2021, saying the top agencies entrusted with fighting cybercrime should never have bungled the simple task of backing up agents' phones.

Experts are divided over whether the disappearance of phone data from around the time of the insurrection is a sign of incompetence, an intentional coverup, or some murkier middle ground. But the failure has raised suspicions about the disposition of records that could provide intimate details about what happened on that chaotic day, and whose preservation was mandated by federal law.

"This was the most singularly stressful day for the Secret Service since the attempted assassination of [Ronald] Reagan," said Paul Rosenzweig, a senior policy official at the Department of Homeland Security during the George W. Bush administration who's now a cybersecurity consultant in Washington. "Why apparently was there no interest in preserving records for the purposes of doing an after-action review? It's like we have a 9/11 attack and air traffic control wipes its records."

Rosenzweig said he polled 11 of his friends with cybersecurity backgrounds, including information-security chiefs at federal agencies, on whether any of them had ever done a migration without a plan for backing up data and restoring it. None of them had. "There's a relatively high degree of skepticism about [the Secret Service] in the group," he said.

The Secret Service said it began deleting data from officials' phones in the same month as the Capitol siege, when its agents were among the closest eyewitnesses both to President Donald Trump, now under criminal investigation for his push to overturn the election, and to Vice President Mike Pence, who had narrowly escaped the mob.

The agency said the deletions were part of a preplanned "system migration," that agents had been instructed to back up their own phones, and that any "insinuation" of malicious intent is wrong.

But tech experts said such a migration is a task that smaller organizations routinely accomplish without error. The agency also went through with its reset of the phones more than a week after Jan. 16, 2021, when House committees told officials at DHS to hand over all relevant "documents or materials" as part of their investigations into the deadly assault.

The error likely means that the information, which could reveal details critical to the Jan. 6 committee's ongoing investigation, may be extremely challenging if not impossible to retrieve. Some of the data may remain on the phones, even after deletion, but with options for unlocking it that are slim to none.

If the Secret Service had truly wanted to preserve agents' messages, experts said, it should have been almost trivially easy to do so. Backups and exports are a basic feature of nearly every messaging service, and federal law requires such records to be safeguarded and submitted to the National Archives.

Several experts were critical of the Secret Service's explanation that it had asked agents to upload their own phone data to an agency drive before their phones were wiped. Cybersecurity professionals said that policy was "highly unusual," "ludicrous," a "failure of management" and "not something any other organization would ever do."

The error is especially notable because of the Secret Service's vaunted role in the federal bureaucracy. Besides protecting America's most powerful people, the agency leads some of the government's most technically sophisticated investigations of financial fraud, ransomware and cybercrime.

"Telling people to back up their stuff individually just sounds crazy," said one technology chief interviewed by The Post, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information security practices. "This is why you have IT people. Why not tell people to go buy their own ammunition?"

On Thursday, The Washington Post revealed that phone records from Trump's acting homeland security secretary, Chad Wolf, and acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli in the days leading up to the Capitol riots also apparently vanished due to what internal emails suggested was a "reset" of their phones after they left their jobs in January 2021. Wolf has said he gave his phone to DHS officials with all data intact, and the reset appears to have been separate from the Secret Service's migration.

Some experts said they could see how such errors were possible. Both the DHS and Secret Service are known for a culture of secrecy, a disdain for oversight and a preference for operational security above all else. Among the potential technical complications, these experts said, was the fact that DHS and Secret Service personnel can use iPhones and Apple's iMessage for communications, which encrypts texts and stores them on the phone.

But several experts said they could not understand why the agencies had not worked more aggressively to safeguard phone records after Jan. 6 — not only because they were legally required to, but because the information could have helped them scrutinize how they had performed during an attack on the heart of American democracy.

In a letter to the House select committee investigating the insurrection, Secret Service officials said they began planning in the fall of 2020 to move all devices onto Microsoft Intune, a "mobile device management" service, known as an MDM, that companies and other organizations can use to centrally manage their computers and phones.

The agency said it told its personnel on Jan. 25 to back up their phones' data onto an internal drive, notably offering a "step-by-step" guide, but that employees were ultimately "responsible for appropriately preserving government records that may be created via text messaging." The Secret Service said agents were told that enrolling their devices in the new system, via a "self-install," was mandatory, although it was not clear that actually performing the backup was.

The migration, the agency said, began two days later, on Jan. 27 — 11 days after the committee had first instructed DHS officials to preserve their records. Some experts questioned why, even if the process had been preplanned, the agency did not pause the migration or assume a more direct role in preserving agents' data during that 11-day span.

The Secret Service said that the migration process deleted "data resident on some phones" but that none of the texts that DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari had been seeking were lost.

The agency watchdog had requested all text messages sent and received by 24 Secret Service personnel between Dec. 7, 2020, and Jan. 8, 2021. The agency returned only one record — a text message conversation from a former U.S. Capitol Police chief to a former chief of the Secret Service's Uniformed Division on Jan. 6, asking for help.

Cuffari's office said last week it has launched a criminal investigation into the missing data. But congressional Democrats have since pushed for Cuffari's removal, saying the Trump appointee's failure to promptly alert Congress has undermined the investigation and diminished the chances that lost evidence could be recovered. Cuffari's office, they said, learned in December that messages had been erased but did not tell Congress until this month.

Cuffari said earlier this month that "many" texts from Jan. 5 and 6 were erased after he made his first request. Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement that Cuffari's office made its request for the first time in February 2021, after the migration was underway.

Asked for comment Friday, the Secret Service provided a previously issued statement, saying it was cooperating with the investigation.

Data migrations of these sorts are not uncommon, experts said. One of the basic rules for conducting them is that devices should be backed up with redundant copies in such a way that the process can be reversed if something goes wrong. Microsoft Intune, specifically, offers guides for how to back up devices, restore saved data and move devices onto the service without deleting their data outright.

The baffling decision-making and the timing of the deletions have led some critics to question whether the agencies were seeking to conceal inconvenient facts. The messages, they pointed out, may have shed a negative light on the behavior of Trump, a man whom many in DHS and on the Secret Service had long fought — not just professionally, but personally and politically — to protect.

One former senior government official who served under Trump said they viewed the missing texts not as a conspiracy but as the inevitable result of an organizational failure by DHS to set up systems that would ensure proper data retention on employees' devices.

The use of iPhones, which prioritize individual users' privacy over organizations' ability to centrally manage data, creates challenges for data retention that are solvable through the right practices. But relying on individual Secret Service agents to upload their iMessages, without any other backup system or way to ensure compliance, before permanently wiping their devices suggests that such practices were not in place.

"What they're doing is they're shifting the burden to the individual user to do the backup, and that's a failure of policy and governance," the former official said. "It's the overarching program that was set up for failure."

The former official added that it's unclear how much, if any, sensitive communication Secret Service agents would have been doing via iMessage anyway. In many government agencies, employees carry personal devices as well as their work devices, and rules about keeping work communications on work devices are not always diligently followed.

The Secret Service blocks its phones from using Apple's iCloud, a popular service for automatically saving copies of phone data to the web, according to an agency official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter under investigation.

Using iCloud backups could have ensured that copies of the messages would have been preserved even after a phone reset. But the system could have also been seen as a security risk because it made agents' digital conversations more vulnerable to hackers or spies.

A former head of technology at another agency within DHS, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe security practices, told The Post that not using iCloud "does come with trade-offs" but could also reduce the need for security officials to "worry about very sensitive data" being exposed.

Agents could have copied data onto an agency backup drive, even without iCloud. But the Secret Service, more than other top security agencies, "tends to want to do their own thing and segment off their IT solutions as much as possible," the person said. "They have good reason, and the security culture itself is fairly good because of the mission."

Robert Osgood, director of the computer forensics program at George Mason University and a longtime forensics examiner for the FBI, said federal law enforcement agencies are typically "really good at storing data" and that, under normal circumstances, it would take "a comedy of errors" for an organization such as the Secret Service to delete data critical to a high-profile investigation.

But "a comedy of errors does happen in the government, unfortunately, and happens more times than people think," Osgood said. Secret Service agents on the president's security detail, he added, may also face unique incentives to avoid leaving data trails about sensitive matters.

"By the nature of what they do, they can't be the eyes and ears of Congress or the inspector general or the DOJ, because that would actually interfere with their mission" to maintain the president's trust and privacy, Osgood said.

Preserving the records could have also been complicated by officials' choices on how they communicated. It's unclear how many agents used messaging apps such as Signal or Wickr, which have become popular for their encryption and security protections, or carried personal phones on Jan. 6. One former government official said such behavior is common in DHS, especially within small or select groups such as the presidential and vice-presidential details.

As part of DHS, the Secret Service would have been required to use some form of "mobile device management" service even before the Intune migration, a former FBI cybersecurity agent told The Post.

But the agency has not specified what MDM it migrated from, and each system works in different ways. Some allow for complete access to phone contents by IT administrators, while others permit only a couple of actions, such as deleting or "wiping" data from a device after it has been discontinued. Some MDMs, including Intune, also allow organizations to restrict what apps employees can download to their devices, potentially limiting their options for messaging to officially approved apps.

If the agency had pursued a typical migration process, experts said it would be strange for the agency to have lost data for only some agents, or for more than a day. A veteran data forensics expert at a large consulting firm who was not authorized to speak publicly said it "does sound fishy" that so much data would go missing.

Leaving backups of critical data to individual employees would be an odd choice for an organization's IT department if the top priority were to make sure nothing was lost, said Paul Bischoff, an online privacy expert at the security firm Comparitech.

"If individual staff members were responsible for backing up and resetting their own devices instead of trained IT staff, I can see a lot of opportunities for user error to crop up," Bischoff said. "That might result in some data being accidentally lost, or it could just be a convenient alibi."

It also remains unclear whether the data is gone forever. It is sometimes possible to retrieve data deleted in a factory reset of a phone, depending on how the data was stored, Bischoff said. "Until the old data is actually overwritten with new data, it can remain on disk even after a factory reset and in many cases be recovered using forensic software." That may not be possible, however, if it was encrypted or overwritten before the reset.

Osgood said he takes the Secret Service at its word that it didn't intentionally destroy what it should have known could be critical evidence in a historic investigation. But he said its explanations to date leave "more questions than answers."

Carol D. Leonnig contributed to this report.


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JBB
Professor Principal
1  seeder  JBB    2 months ago

The excuses being given for this are ludicrous!

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
1.1  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  JBB @1    2 months ago

What do you think Biden will do to his agency?

 
 
 
GregTx
Junior Participates
1.1.1  GregTx  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.1    2 months ago

No doubt they’ll have to investigate to find out which ones are Trump supporters and who are trustworthy.

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
1.1.2  seeder  JBB  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.1    2 months ago

If Biden gets all the deleted Secret Service texts and emails from Vlad Putin is that a bad thing?

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
1.1.3  seeder  JBB  replied to  GregTx @1.1.1    2 months ago

If Clinton or Obama was responsible instead of Trump you'd demand a Special Counsel...

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
1.1.4  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  JBB @1.1.2    2 months ago

Of course not.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
1.2  Tessylo  replied to  JBB @1    2 months ago

I can't believe anyone would buy their excuses for DELIBERATELY DELETING ALL THOSE TEXTS FROM 1/5 and 1/6

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
1.2.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Tessylo @1.2    2 months ago

As far as I'm concerned the loss of those records and no others is evidence of complicity and strong proof of guilt.

 
 
 
dennis smith
PhD Silent
1.2.2  dennis smith  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.2.1    2 months ago

Sounds very much like when Hilary emails disappeared.

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
1.2.3  seeder  JBB  replied to  dennis smith @1.2.2    2 months ago

Is it okay if Vlad Putin retrieves Trump's emails?

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.2.4  devangelical  replied to  dennis smith @1.2.2    2 months ago

sounds very much like when trump administration officials used alt-email to evade gov't records requirements.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
1.2.5  Tessylo  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.2.1    2 months ago

BINGO BUZZ!

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
1.2.6  Ozzwald  replied to  Tessylo @1.2    2 months ago
I can't believe anyone would buy their excuses for DELIBERATELY DELETING ALL THOSE TEXTS FROM 1/5 and 1/6

The way I look at it, if a few of the agents had deleted their texts, that would be an accidental "oooops".  However if ALL of them deleted them, that is a coverup.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.2.7  TᵢG  replied to  Ozzwald @1.2.6    2 months ago

Why would the SS not have a running archive of texts stored centrally?    Makes no sense.   

I will not go so far as to say coverup, but certainly something is very fishy here.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.2.8  devangelical  replied to  TᵢG @1.2.7    2 months ago

they will magically reappear when some people start going to federal court...

 
 
 
dennis smith
PhD Silent
1.2.9  dennis smith  replied to  JBB @1.2.3    2 months ago

What emails?

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
1.2.10  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  TᵢG @1.2.7    2 months ago
I will not go so far as to say coverup, but certainly something is very fishy here.

The WashP has reported that  the IG for Homeland Security’s chief learned about the deleted text msgs last Feb and planned to collect the SS phones to try to recover deleted texts this year, but later decided not to.  

What kind of agency is Alejandro Mayorkas running for Bidden?

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
1.2.11  Ozzwald  replied to  TᵢG @1.2.7    2 months ago
Why would the SS not have a running archive of texts stored centrally?

Is the SS a telecom company?  No, they are not, therefore they do not have that capability. 

Could they have an official "app" that allows text communications between agents, that also archives the texts? Yes they could, but it would not guarantee that the agents use that app exclusively.

I will not go so far as to say coverup, but certainly something is very fishy here.

I agree, however that fish smell is growing almost daily.

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
1.2.12  Ozzwald  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.2.10    2 months ago
The WashP has reported that  the IG for Homeland Security’s chief learned about the deleted text msgs last Feb and planned to collect the SS phones to try to recover deleted texts this year, but later decided not to.

Just to point out it was the Trump appointed IG for Homeland Security.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
1.2.13  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Ozzwald @1.2.12    2 months ago
Just to point out it was the Trump appointed IG for Homeland Security.

Why is he still there 18 months later?

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.2.14  TᵢG  replied to  Ozzwald @1.2.11    2 months ago
Is the SS a telecom company?  No, they are not, therefore they do not have that capability. 

You do not think that the SS could have all of the texts from their communications archived?   Do you also presume that their communications are not secured?

Yes they could, but it would not guarantee that the agents use that app exclusively.

You do not think that SS issued phones are secure phones that allow only specific apps??


If the SS does not have secured phones which ensure communications stay within designated bounds and mitigate intentional or unintentional leakage of their communications (which, by the way, involve the handling of the PotUS) then there is problem number one.

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
1.2.15  Ozzwald  replied to  TᵢG @1.2.14    2 months ago
You do not think that the SS could have all of the texts from their communications archived? 

No

You do not think that SS issued phones are secure phones that allow only specific apps??

No

If the SS does not have secured phones which ensure communications stay within designated bounds and mitigate intentional or unintentional leakage of their communications (which, by the way, involve the handling of the PotUS) then there is problem number one.

I'm sure they have specific models that they make available for their agents.  But no, I do not believe they lock down the phones to that degree.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.2.16  TᵢG  replied to  Ozzwald @1.2.15    2 months ago

Do you hold that non-secure SS phones would be a gross failure of security?

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
1.2.17  Ozzwald  replied to  TᵢG @1.2.16    2 months ago

Do you hold that non-secure SS phones would be a gross failure of security?

No.

Those little curly wires that stick in their ears, and the mics hidden in their shirt cuffs, do not go to their phones.  Their phones are not the Secret Service's primary method of communications.  At best I would label them as a backup method in case the primary method went belly up.

 
 
 
bccrane
Freshman Silent
1.2.18  bccrane  replied to  Ozzwald @1.2.17    2 months ago

Correct, their job is to protect the president not be fiddling around with a phone.  I wouldn't be surprised that the proper procedure for phone use while doing their job is to shut off the phones or don't even have them with you.  Maybe the lack of emails on their phones might just be that they weren't generating any.

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
1.2.20  Ozzwald  replied to  bccrane @1.2.18    2 months ago
I wouldn't be surprised that the proper procedure for phone use while doing their job is to shut off the phones or don't even have them with you.

Maybe personal phones.  But work issued would be too important as a backup to be turned completely off.  IMHO

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.2.21  TᵢG  replied to  Ozzwald @1.2.17    2 months ago

When they cannot talk directly via their voices and are out of range (~5 miles given line-of-sight) for earpiece-connected-radios, they use texting.    Texting is thus part of their real time communication.   Any form of communication dealing with the security of the PotUS, especially that which is real time, needs to be secure.   Not securing their texts on government issued devices is thus a fundamental failure of security.   Their job-related communications can be secured with special apps on phones which have disabled ordinary plain texting.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
1.2.22  Tessylo  replied to  TᵢG @1.2.7    2 months ago

I would go that far.

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
1.2.23  Ozzwald  replied to  TᵢG @1.2.21    2 months ago
When they cannot talk directly via their voices and are out of range (~5 miles given line-of-sight) for earpiece-connected-radios, they use texting.

I would love to see something documenting what you claim.  I can buy a pair of walkie talkies on Amazon with a greater than 5 mile range (these are 35 miles range), AND I would assume that repeaters would be installed (or even mobile ones) to increase that range.

Any form of communication dealing with the security of the PotUS, especially that which is real time, needs to be secure..   Not securing their texts on government issued devices is thus a fundamental failure of security.

Why do you think texts are more secure than digitally encrypted radio traffic?

Their job-related communications can be secured with special apps on phones which have disabled ordinary plain texting.

That would limit their phones to be unusable to them 95% of the time.  Secret service is just the Treasury Department, they have other jobs to do as well.  Texting is awkward, requiring 2 hands, taking the time to make sure your texts are readable, and are only designed to go to 1 recipient, or 1 predesignated group.  Anything else would take too long to go through the individual recipients.

 
 
 
bccrane
Freshman Silent
1.2.24  bccrane  replied to  TᵢG @1.2.21    2 months ago

Texting is thus part of their real time communication

How can texting be part of their "real time communication", that's relying on spell checking, grammar, punctuation to get the correct message across and with fat fingers the president could be dead already.  So, I would hope, that their communications would be more like the local police departments and have at least a 50 mile range.  So, again, the reason there are no texts could be there were none generated. 

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
1.2.25  Ozzwald  replied to  bccrane @1.2.24    2 months ago
So, again, the reason there are no texts could be there were none generated.

No, there were texts, but odds are they were texting between each other, not using official communication protocols.  Possibly even using personal phones, or generally supplied work phones.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.2.26  TᵢG  replied to  Ozzwald @1.2.23    2 months ago

Radio communications between hand held sized devices are seriously reduced by obstacles (e.g. metal, stone) typically in a city and especially when within buildings.   Long-range communication free of obstacles is technically possible with line-of-sight and clear terrain but practical usage limits that to a few miles (and depending on the venue, even less) with the obstacles within a city.

Further, the Secret Service radio system was audited in 2016 and was found to be lacking with routine failures and many of the devices being circa 1999.   I cannot find anything that indicates they upgraded to better technology other than indications that they were submitting requests to do so in 2019 so there is no way to see what technology is being used and what its effective range is in SS venues (buildings and cities).    I recognize that it is possible that they upgraded with no public dissemination of that information.

Regardless, what we do know is that the SS uses texts for communications in real time.   Clearly direct human voice then voice via radio when local and it would appear text for more distance communication and for communication between the SS and entities not equipped with SS radios.   That is the point of the investigation — texts pursuant to the real time events on Jan 6th were erased.

My point has been that it is irresponsible to have text enabled on SS government-issued phones (i.e. intended for official business) that is not secured.   The SS security is vital given they are responsible for protecting people of critical importance to the nation.    So if government-issued phones can text and that text is secure (as one would expect) then it certainly should be archived by the security hub.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.2.27  TᵢG  replied to  bccrane @1.2.24    2 months ago
How can texting be part of their "real time communication", that's relying on spell checking, grammar, punctuation to get the correct message across and with fat fingers the president could be dead already.

It has been reported that the SS was texting regarding the Jan 6rh insurrection.   Those would be real-time texts.   Why would you reject that texting is part of their real time communication given this investigation essentially stated that it is?

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.2.28  TᵢG  replied to  Ozzwald @1.2.25    2 months ago
Possibly even using personal phones, or generally supplied work phones.

Why would the SS have authorized a migration of their personal phones?     And if these are supplied work phones (which is what I presume) then why would then NOT be secured?

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
1.2.29  Ozzwald  replied to  TᵢG @1.2.26    2 months ago
Radio communications between hand held sized devices are seriously reduced by obstacles (e.g. metal, stone) typically in a city and especially when within buildings.

So you're saying that all those hand held radios that police officers use, won't work?  That they are just pretending to talk to dispatch and other officers?

Long-range communication free of obstacles is technically possible with line-of-sight and clear terrain but practical usage limits that to a few miles (and depending on the venue, even less) with the obstacles within a city.

You never used a walkie talkie as a kid, have you?  How about a cell phone, have you ever used a cell phone when not in direct sight of a cell tower?

Further, the Secret Service radio system was audited in 2016 and was found to be lacking with routine failures and many of the devices being circa 1999.   I cannot find anything that indicates they upgraded to better technology other than indications that they were submitting requests to do so in 2019 so there is no way to see what technology is being used and what its effective range is in SS venues (buildings and cities). 

You realize that you just argued AGAINST them using sophisticated cell phones and apps?

Regardless, what we do know is that the SS uses texts for communications in real time.

As has been pointed out, text messages can only be considered "real time" under the broadest of definitions.  What you fail to point out is that yes the SS use cell phones (that has never been disputed), but not as a primary means of communication when they are doing their presidential protect duties.

My point has been that it is irresponsible to have text enabled on SS government-issued phones (i.e. intended for official business) that is not secured.

And my point is that you are wrong.  Those government issued cell phones would also be used for other Treasury Department business, where they would need to make and receive phone calls as well as texts from people outside the Treasury Department.

The SS security is vital given they are responsible for protecting people of critical importance to the nation.

But everyone would already know where POTUS is, he's right there in the middle of all those Secret Service guys.

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
1.2.30  Ozzwald  replied to  TᵢG @1.2.28    2 months ago
Why would the SS have authorized a migration of their personal phones?

I used it as an example, not in regards to this particular incident.

And if these are supplied work phones (which is what I presume) then why would then NOT be secured?

Again, because the US government is not a telecom carrier.  I'm sure when they are issued, they take encryption security into account when they select the make and model of the phone, but the voice line of the phone is already digitally encrypted, and the only way to intercept text messages would be through the carrier.  The radios the use are secured at both ends by the agency using them, you cannot same the same about any cell phone.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.2.31  TᵢG  replied to  Ozzwald @1.2.29    2 months ago
So you're saying that all those hand held radios that police officers use, won't work? 

No, Ozzwald, I did not say that nor did I imply it.

You never used a walkie talkie as a kid, have you?  

Did you interpret my comment to mean that no RF device can work?   Because I specifically stated that today's technology is capable of long distances (~20 or more miles) but that such distances are very special cases where there is line-of-sight and no terrain (like being on top of a mountain communicating with another at high elevation).   

How about a cell phone, have you ever used a cell phone when not in direct sight of a cell tower?

Why are you coming up with this pointless argumentative crap, Ozzwald?    You are responding as if I have claimed that the only possible way for frequency-based communication to work is via line-of-sight.   What I said is that obstructions (such as steel in buildings) greatly reduces intensity (the signals are absorbed and deflected).   The way to get around that is to be in open terrain, repeaters, high-powered transmitters, etc.   RF devices that are typically carried in pockets, hips, etc. are not typically high-powered devices.

So ... stated quite simply ... the effective range of typical hand-held RF devices when used in a city / within buildings is substantially less than the rating which typically is based on perfect conditions:  line-of-sight, no terrain blocks.

You realize that you just argued AGAINST them using sophisticated cell phones and apps?

I did not.   Do you consider a cell phone to be the same as an RF device?   We know that their phones were capable of texts which indicates a 'smart phone' and thus apps.   That is not a stretch.   So imagine the possibility of the SS still using their older RF technology while having government-issued cell phones with mobile app capabilities (mobile apps have been around for just over two decades and in full commercial use since 2008).

As has been pointed out, text messages can only be considered "real time" under the broadest of definitions. 

Then use the broadest of definitions.   I have stated explicitly that I agree that direct voice is the first choice,  RF devices with earpieces and speakers as the second choice and then when those do not work or the intended receiver does not have the RF device, text is used.   The focus is on text and it is clear that the SS uses text thus it should be secured.

Those government issued cell phones would also be used for other Treasury Department business, where they would need to make and receive phone calls as well as texts from people outside the Treasury Department.

So how is this an argument against my point?:  "My point has been that it is irresponsible to have text enabled on SS government-issued phones (i.e. intended for official business) that is not secured."

But everyone would already know where POTUS is, he's right there in the middle of all those Secret Service guys.

What??   I stated: "The SS security is vital given they are responsible for protecting people of critical importance to the nation." and you respond with this??

So if PotUS is moving, you think it would be responsible to not have secured text for SS agents who could be using texts as part of their official business??

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.2.32  TᵢG  replied to  Ozzwald @1.2.30    2 months ago
I used it as an example, not in regards to this particular incident.

Then I am not seeing the relevance of your example.

Again, because the US government is not a telecom carrier.  

No, that is NOT a reason for the US government to not have secured phones.   One need not be a telecom carrier to secure communications.     Immediately, as I have already described, SS agents should have secured government issued phones that do not allow open text communication but rather have, at the very least, encrypted text via a special government app which would naturally be tied to a secure server farm.    And if this is done, of course the texts would be backed up.

... but the voice line of the phone is already digitally encrypted ...

Do you think the US government relies upon the standard encryption of public firms to secure their most sensitive information?    Do you think they should?

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.2.33  TᵢG  replied to  Ozzwald @1.2.30    2 months ago

Bottom line, my position is that the SS communications should all be as secure as is possible.   And to achieve that security the underlying technology surely would enable backing up of these communications.

If you were in charge of SS security would you allow non-secure communications with official devices and would you rely upon the collective and unverified cooperation of all individual agents to achieve your backup?

 
 
 
Freewill
Junior Participates
1.2.34  Freewill  replied to  TᵢG @1.2.33    2 months ago

Nope!

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
1.2.35  Ozzwald  replied to  TᵢG @1.2.31    2 months ago
No, Ozzwald, I did not say that nor did I imply it.

Yes you did, and I quote "

Long-range communication free of obstacles is technically possible with line-of-sight and clear terrain but practical usage limits that to a few miles Because I specifically stated that today's technology is capable of long distances (~20 or more miles) but that such distances are very special cases where there is line-of-sight and no terrain (like being on top of a mountain communicating with another at high elevation).   

And I provided a link to a pair of radios that you can buy today, at Amazon, with a range of 35 miles.

The way to get around that is to be in open terrain, repeaters, high-powered transmitters, etc.

Which apparently you do not believe the US government has access to such devices.

So ... stated quite simply ... the effective range of typical hand-held RF devices when used in a city / within buildings is substantially less than the rating which typically is based on perfect conditions:  line-of-sight, no terrain blocks.

So radios have no access outside the building you are in since there is no line of sight?  I understand what you are trying to claim, but you are doing a very poor job of doing it.

Do you consider a cell phone to be the same as an RF device? 

A cell phone IS an RF device.  Sorry, but it is true.

" My point has been that it is irresponsible to have text enabled on SS government-issued phones (i.e. intended for official business) that is not secured. "

The more they are secured, the less you can use them for their designed purpose.  What is the point of having a cell phone so secure you can only receive calls from designated numbers?  The more they are tied down, the more the agents will just use their personal ones.  In 2016 there were over 100,000 treasury agents, and you think they should all get secure restricted phones?

What??   I stated: " The SS security is vital given they are responsible for protecting people of critical importance to the nation." and you respond with this??

Yes.  Just what info do you think people could get if they were even able to access texts on an agent's phone?

So if PotUS is moving, you think it would be responsible to not have secured text for SS agents who could be using texts as part of their official business??

If POTUS is moving, do you really think they'll have time to

pull out your phone,

access the home screen,

select the texting app,

select the 12 out of 500 agents you want to text,

key in the text,

then wait for those 12 agents to pull out their phones,

access their home screens,

open their texting app,

and read what you hopefully spelled correctly?  AND what anyone else can read with a decent pair of binoculars?

POTUS's movements are planned before he even leaves the Whitehouse.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.2.36  TᵢG  replied to  Ozzwald @1.2.35    2 months ago

You wrote:

Ozzwald @1.2.29 ☞ So you're saying that all those hand held radios that police officers use, won't work? 

I replied

TiG @1.2.31No, Ozzwald, I did not say that nor did I imply it.

What you quoted does in no way shape or form imply that the hand held radios that police officers use won't work.    I stated that in urban areas with buildings and steel and especially indoors the range is limited to a few miles (and, by the way, less depending upon the obstructions).   That does not mean 'does not work', it means 'limited in range'.    Two very different meanings.

So, no, you are blatantly misrepresenting what I wrote.

And I provided a link to a pair of radios that you can buy today, at Amazon, with a range of 35 miles.

So you somehow did not read my response about ideal theoretical ranges vs practical reality in urban areas??:

TiG @1.2.31Because I specifically stated that today's technology is capable of long distances (~20 or more miles) but that such distances are very special cases where there is line-of-sight and no terrain (like being on top of a mountain communicating with another at high elevation).   

In short, an advertised 35 miles would be under ideal conditions (line-of-sight, no terrain obstacles, good weather, etc.).   Take that technology within a building in a city like D.C. with all the steel and noise and the effectiveness will be dramatically lessened.    Don't believe every advertisement you read.

If you are going to keep repeating the same argument and ignore my rebuttals then this will be circular and pointless.

Which apparently you do not believe the US government has access to such devices.

You apparently think the agents are all carrying repeaters and somehow magically can change the terrain and force open line-of-sight.    Yeah, I do not believe the US government has equipped agents with terrain penetrating, steel & concrete penetrating, powerful devices that fit in their pockets.   Do you?

A cell phone IS an RF device.

Don't pretend that you could not see that I was distinguishing their cell phones from the RF devices (generically since we do not know the specific devices they use) they use for direct communication?   

The more they are secured, the less you can use them for their designed purpose.  What is the point of having a cell phone so secure you can only receive calls from designated numbers?  

That would be an argument for no security.   You cannot imagine how people can secure devices while providing the intended function??    And I never specified the specific security so this 'only from designated numbers' is a strawman.

The more they are tied down, the more the agents will just use their personal ones.  In 2016 there were over 100,000 treasury agents, and you think they should all get secure restricted phones?

We are talking about the SS, not the entire staff of treasury agents.   Focus.

Just what info do you think people could get if they were even able to access texts on an agent's phone?

They could get the information communicated by the agents.   You are implying that you know the information communicated via text is benign and unimportant.   How, exactly, do you know this?

If POTUS is moving, do you really think they'll have time to  ....

You cannot envision agents (et. al.) communicating when and how to move the PotUS before agents on the ground begin the execution?   

POTUS's movements are planned before he even leaves the Whitehouse.

Yes, and do you think that SS plans anticipate no contingencies?   That the plan is executed in every detail as intended.   No replanning takes place if, for example, the planned exit is no longer properly secured and they need to coordinate an alternate route (and possibly alternate timing) for the move?   


I addressed all your tangents and am now going to bring you right back to the point I made via the question I asked you:

If you were in charge of SS security would you allow non-secure communications with official devices and would you rely upon the collective and unverified cooperation of all individual agents to achieve your backup?

Because, after all, that is the topic of this seed.

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
1.2.37  Ozzwald  replied to  TᵢG @1.2.36    2 months ago
What you quoted does in no way shape or form imply that the hand held radios that police officers use won't work.    I stated that in urban areas with buildings and steel and especially indoors the range is limited to a few miles (and, by the way, less depending upon the obstructions).   That does not mean 'does not work', it means 'limited in range'.    Two very different meanings.

So a police officer's radio's range is limited to around 3 miles in a town? So what good are they?  Or are you claiming that an officer cannot go past a few miles away from another officer? 

"Oooops, sorry.  Can cannot continue this high speed chase through town because you have passed my 3 mile limit to our dispatcher."

Don't pretend that you could not see that I was distinguishing their cell phones from the RF devices (generically since we do not know the specific devices they use) they use for direct communication?   

Jesus!  Look at what you just wrote!  A cell phone IS an RF device used for direct communication.

We are talking about the SS, not the entire staff of treasury agents.   Focus.

You understand that Treasury agents change assignments, aren't you?  You understand that when events happen, other Treasury agents fill in with Secret Service duties, don't you?  You understand that any Treasury agent, at any time, could be called in to cover Secret Service duties, don't you?

You are implying that you know the information communicated via text is benign and unimportant.   How, exactly, do you know this?

I am implying nothing of the sort.  I am stating that the events are planned from beginning to the end, any deviations are planned for if they occur.  Any changes happening in real time would preclude anyone's ability to "TEXT" the change to the various agents involved in that event, since by the time each agent texted their acknowledgement, the event would be concluded.

You cannot envision agents (et. al.) communicating when and how to move the PotUS before agents on the ground begin the execution?

Via text?  No, absolutely not.  For that type of communication you would require the order going out, and receiving back acknowledgement that the order was received and understood.  Have you ever seen the Secret Service ever ALL stop what they were doing and all pull out their cell phones to read and respond to a text?

If you were in charge of SS security would you allow non-secure communications with official devices and would you rely upon the collective and unverified cooperation of all individual agents to achieve your backup?

With specific exceptions, YES.  Plus you haven't yet shown that the digital encryption that cell phones use is considered "non-secure".

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.2.38  TᵢG  replied to  Ozzwald @1.2.37    2 months ago
So a police officer's radio's range is limited to around 3 miles in a town?

My comment was generic regarding pocket-sized RF devices in an area where there are buildings made of stone and steel, other EM noise, and especially when inside of building such as these.   This is basic physics and it is well known ... you can easily look this up for yourself instead of attempting to find some highly conditioned twist of logic that might prove me wrong.

Look at what you just wrote! 

Okay, it is obvious that you are simply arguing to argue.    All I am doing here now is explaining and reexplaining what I wrote.   I told you that I used the term RF device as a generic reference to the handheld devices (whose specific models we do not know) to contrast them with their cell phones.   You ignore that and continue to harp on cell phones being RF devices (no shit, Ozzwald).

Play your stupid games with someone else.  


With specific exceptions, YES. 

This answers my question:  "If you were in charge of SS security would you allow non-secure communications with official devices and would you rely upon the collective and unverified cooperation of all individual agents to achieve your backup?"

This is the point.   I consider it irresponsible for the SS to have government-issued phones which are thus obviously intended for official business to be unsecured and to rely upon the individual agents to do their own backups without even verification that this was done.

You would allow this irresponsible behavior.  

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
1.2.39  Ozzwald  replied to  TᵢG @1.2.38    2 months ago
My comment was generic regarding pocket-sized RF devices

No it wasn't, you were specifically talking about communication devices (radios), used by the secret service.

I told you that I used the term RF device as a generic reference to the handheld devices (whose specific models we do not know) to contrast them with their cell phones.

Again, I call bull.  You specifically asked me if I considered a cell phone as an RF device .  That's about as UN-generic as you can get.

You would allow this irresponsible behavior.

Correct.  You believe in anally micro managing, I believe in hiring the best people for a job and having faith in them doing that job.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
1.2.40  TᵢG  replied to  Ozzwald @1.2.39    2 months ago

Play your stupid games with someone else.  

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
1.2.41  Ozzwald  replied to  TᵢG @1.2.40    2 months ago
Play your stupid games with someone else.

Okay, but in my games, moving the goal posts are not allowed.

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
1.3  Greg Jones  replied to  JBB @1    2 months ago

The  messages ended up next to Hillary's missing emails

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.3.1  devangelical  replied to  Greg Jones @1.3    2 months ago

... still a drop in the bucket compared to the 3 million bush & co emails that got lost.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
1.3.2  Tessylo  replied to  devangelical @1.3.1    2 months ago

With all the republican scandals to keep track of I completely forgot about that yet you hear endlessly about the Clintons and how long has it been since either one was in office???????

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
1.3.3  Greg Jones  replied to  devangelical @1.3.1    2 months ago

Those  were  eventually  recovered

 
 
 
bugsy
Professor Participates
1.3.4  bugsy  replied to  Greg Jones @1.3.3    2 months ago

Of course they were, but lemmings don't want to hear that.

 
 
 
dennis smith
PhD Silent
1.3.5  dennis smith  replied to  devangelical @1.3.1    2 months ago

What's good for one is good for all.

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
1.3.6  Ozzwald  replied to  Greg Jones @1.3.3    2 months ago
Those  were  eventually  recovered

So  were  Hillary's  

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
1.3.7  Tessylo  replied to  Ozzwald @1.3.6    2 months ago
"Those  were  eventually  recovered"

"So  were  Hillary's"  

Note how that is completely ignored.

 
 
 
Revillug
Freshman Guide
2  Revillug    2 months ago

The experts are baffled but nobody else should be.

 
 
 
Dismayed Patriot
Professor Participates
2.1  Dismayed Patriot  replied to  Revillug @2    2 months ago
The experts are baffled but nobody else should be.

True, it's clear it wasn't "bungled" but intentional obfuscation in an effort to hide the former Presidents criminal actions and intentions as he attempted to coordinate and organize a coup to stay in power.

 
 
 
Revillug
Freshman Guide
2.1.1  Revillug  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @2.1    2 months ago

Also, "Archiving text messages is for suckers."

They were probably glad to have quite a few other messages gone for good as well. They have been a scandal plagued band of merry men for quite a few years.

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
2.1.2  seeder  JBB  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @2.1    2 months ago

Jan 6th makes Watergate look like a picnic!

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
3  TᵢG    2 months ago
"Telling people to back up their stuff individually just sounds crazy," said one technology chief interviewed by The Post, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information security practices. "This is why you have IT people. Why not tell people to go buy their own ammunition?"

Exactly.  An organization does not rely upon individuals to back up sensitive data.   That is done centrally and according to a well defined process.   Nobody of any experience would rely upon each user to properly back up data and then engage in deletes.   This is quite a bullshit story.

 
 
 
Revillug
Freshman Guide
3.1  Revillug  replied to  TᵢG @3    2 months ago
An organization does not rely upon individuals to back up sensitive data. 

Not my intention here to muddy up the conversation with taking the Secret Service's side but they aren't a normal organization. They aren't an insurance company or a bank. I could see them not wanting to farm out their security to Dropbox or McAfee.

I would expect the Secret Service and the NSA to have top notch in house solutions. Then again, I kept hearing tales about nuclear submarines running Windows XP long past its sell-by date.

It's outrageous that nobody had a secure and rigorous archive of their text messages.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
3.1.1  TᵢG  replied to  Revillug @3.1    2 months ago
I would expect the Secret Service and the NSA to have top notch in house solutions.

As would I.   We are talking about the folks who are charged with protecting the PotUS from harm and giving their lives to that end.   This is serious business with serious communications and serious data.

 
 
 
Revillug
Freshman Guide
3.1.2  Revillug  replied to  TᵢG @3.1.1    2 months ago

When I see this incompetence on the part of the Secret Service and basic cybersecurity I have to wonder if we are being scammed about nuclear threats and deterrents as well. The nuclear triad is supposed to be a finely tuned state of the art war game machine.

Is that all just one big scam too?

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
3.1.3  TᵢG  replied to  Revillug @3.1.2    2 months ago

Scam might be too harsh, but suffice it to say that the public certainly is presented with a prettier picture than the underlying reality.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
3.1.4  Tessylo  replied to  TᵢG @3.1.1    2 months ago

I'd say this a cover up, getting rid of evidence.  Much more serious than a scam or whatever

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
3.1.5  TᵢG  replied to  Tessylo @3.1.4    2 months ago

'Scam' was in reference to nuclear threats and deterrents.

 
 
 
bugsy
Professor Participates
3.1.6  bugsy  replied to  Tessylo @3.1.4    2 months ago

What kind of evidence, Tessylo?

Evidence of something Trump did, or evidence of the Secret Service knowing there are things out there that exonerates Trump and someone did not want those emails found.

We really don't know, do we....but go ahead and speculate your ass off.

 
 
 
Revillug
Freshman Guide
3.1.7  Revillug  replied to  TᵢG @3.1.5    2 months ago

Count me among the people who think Russia succeeded in installing a Russian asset in the White House, a president who somehow always seemed to understand Putin's desires more than he understood our own foreign policy.

And somehow we did not get nuked by Russia.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
4  Kavika     2 months ago

If BS were dollar bills the SS would be billionaires.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
4.1  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @4    2 months ago

it's going to be hilarious when all that stuff turns up.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
4.1.1  Tessylo  replied to  devangelical @4.1    2 months ago

I'm not at all tech savvy but those IM's or texts can be recovered, right?

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Principal
4.1.2  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Tessylo @4.1.1    2 months ago
I'm not at all tech savvy but those IM's or texts can be recovered, right?

If they now could, why hasn't Alejandro Mayorkas order it to be done?

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
4.1.3  devangelical  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @4.1.2    2 months ago

why don't you ask him?

 
 
 
al Jizzerror
Junior Expert
5  al Jizzerror    2 months ago

When I worked for a software company (back in the mainframe days) everything was backed up daily on 2400 ft. tapes.  Every Friday a set of backup tapes was sent to an "off-site" facility and placed in a vault.  There was even a "rotation" system used so the archived data could be accessed when necessary.

The Secret Service is part of the Department of Homeland SecurityUS-CERT (Office of Cybersecurity and Communications
National Programs and Preparedness Directorate) and Office of Cybersecurity and Communications
(National Programs and Predaredness Directorate) are also part of Homeland Security.

Homeland Security is well aware of basic backup procedures so it's obvious that if any data (including messages) is "lost" it must be intentional

It's totally obvious that the "lost" SS messages (and the huge "gap" in the White House log) is part of a huge 

COVER UP!

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
5.1  Greg Jones  replied to  al Jizzerror @5    2 months ago

ANOTHER CONSPIRACY THEORY

 
 
 
al Jizzerror
Junior Expert
5.1.1  al Jizzerror  replied to  Greg Jones @5.1    2 months ago

Evidently, you think every single member of the Secret Service (and the top two individuals in the DHS) are so stupid that they couldn't figure out how to backup their telephones.

800

 
 
 
Freewill
Junior Participates
6  Freewill    2 months ago

Well after all it is the Secret Service.  Why expect anything different from an organization so named? 

I just want to know what Pelosi is whispering into Giuliani's ear in the cover photo.  Never thought the two of them would get close enough for that sort of thing. 

jrSmiley_26_smiley_image.gif   Conspiracy theory 2 - Perhaps there may have been messages on those phones that would be damaging to both sides and/or their narratives about what went down on Jan 6?  After all, the alleged migration and subsequent "erasing" happened after Jan 20, 2021 according to the article.  Perhaps we shouldn't speculate, although somehow I get the feeling we will never be privy to the truth.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
6.1  devangelical  replied to  Freewill @6    2 months ago

uh, that isn't pelosi in the picture, it's powell...

you can bet that some SS agents that may need to make a deal have a cloud backup app, or there's a few patriots among them aware of the gov't records retention laws.

 
 
 
Freewill
Junior Participates
6.1.1  Freewill  replied to  devangelical @6.1    2 months ago
uh, that isn't pelosi in the picture, it's powell...

Huh.  So it is....  Would have been more fun to discuss if it were Pelosi though, eh?

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
6.1.2  seeder  JBB  replied to  Freewill @6.1.1    2 months ago

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
6.1.3  Tessylo  replied to  Freewill @6.1.1    2 months ago

For you maybe

 
 
 
Freewill
Junior Participates
6.1.4  Freewill  replied to  Tessylo @6.1.3    2 months ago
For you maybe

Indeed!

 
 
 
dennis smith
PhD Silent
7  dennis smith    2 months ago

Some things in DC are never made public. Been that way for decades if not centuries. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
7.1  TᵢG  replied to  dennis smith @7    2 months ago

It is true in all societies throughout history.   There never has been nor will there likely ever be full transparency.

 
 
 
evilgenius
PhD Guide
8  evilgenius    2 months ago
Experts are divided over whether the disappearance of phone data from around the time of the insurrection is a sign of incompetence, an intentional coverup...

I'd expect a few government job openings to appear soon, but we are talking about the government, so many not.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
9  Buzz of the Orient    2 months ago

"Loss Of Secret Service Texts From Jan. 6 Baffles Experts - The Washington Post"

LOL.  A 10 year old child who reads comic books would know why.   

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
PhD Guide
10  Jeremy Retired in NC    2 months ago

It's funny how missing messages suddenly mean something.

 
 

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