back to article Redaction FAIL: Dull nuke sub document revealed in full

The news media got in a ferment this weekend as it turned out that officials at the UK Ministry of Defence had failed to effectively redact passages in a report on nuclear submarine safety published to the internet. But the revealed text - which had originally been classified only at a low level - is not terribly exciting. The …

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Paris Hilton

Yawn

As someone who works with 'restricted' documents, I can confirm they're very dull. The worst fallout from this particular slip-up is going to be heads of security across the civil service getting their knickers in a twist and creating more and more ludicrous 'security procedures'.

This, in turn, will lead to silly spending on daft 'precautions'.

No-one cares, apart from the Daily Mail and a handful of people who's jobs depend on making it all seem important. You, me, and everyone else will still have to pay for it, though.

(anonymous ('confidential'?) for obvious reasons, and Paris because even though it's often concealed, what's underneath isn't exciting at all.)

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WTF?

RESTRICTED

Lewis

Thanks for this - I had yet to read elsewhere what classification these documents were originally, and am reminded IIRC of the Yes Prime Minister episode where RESTRICTED is described as: "the Russians already have it".

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Restricted

Sir Humphrey: "At least it wasn't "Restricted".

Jim Hacker: "Why"?

Sir Humphrey: "'Restricted'" means

it was in the papers yesterday".

Bernard:"'Confidential' means it won't be

in the papers till today".

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Yes Minister

ah yes...as relevant now as it was back then.

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Pirate

Restricted

I think Lewis has mentioned this in passing a while ago, but much is made of the fact that a "Restricted" document has been leaked/found/inadequately censored/whatever by (mainly) the print media. I thought I would put this in context.

My only connection with the military was with the Army Cadet Force (a fine organisation, now much put upon) at school. Not in Lewis's class at all, but still:

Every single official publication that came down to us spotty 14-18 year olds (at a state school BTW); whether it was the basic drill manual, radio voice procedure or a 19 set maintenance manual - was (is?) marked "restricted". Round robins from HQ exhorting armourers to make sure that cadets cleaned their designated no 4 rifles every week and so on were marked "restricted". And so on ad nauseam.

The only publications that was not "protectively marked" were posters advertising the ACF and the occasional ACF/CCF magazine that would appear for one or two issues and then vanish for a year to two before another flurry (of one) surfaced.

"Restricted" means: this comes from the MOD. If you have one, and we are in a bad mood or you are embarrassing - we may give you bad time about it - so just ... just - OK?

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WTF?

Reminds me of the time...

When I was in the CCF at school, and we had to sign the Official Secrets Act, (at age 14) just so we could be taught how to crawl along the floor! (Secret crawl, leopard stylee). Now I will have to kill you for reading this...

I expect that piece of paper is still held somewhere, just in case I decide to defect!

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Grenade

I got all excited then...

I read the headline as a Duke Nukem story....

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Sir

You aren't the only mentally deficient one here then, coz I did as well :)

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Joke

Not a chance, mate...

...given that this story's about someone actually releasing something...

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Vapourware that might turn out not to be

Duke Nukem, and Trident replacement...

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Not a disaster?

"Nuclear submarines routinely suffer accidents, collisions, groundings, fires and explosions. At least ten have been completely lost at sea with reactors and/or warheads aboard over the past 50 years. And yet the world has not come to an end."

The words ecological disaster do not seem to exist in Mr.Pages brain.

So the Plutonium that's falling out of Russian nuclear torpedos off the coast of Norway is probably OK.

Maybe he doesn't eat fish.

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@Mystic

Care to cite any credible sources? Just asking, genuine interest 'n all.

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Alert

Yeah!

Because fish cannot resist a plutonium shrimp!

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Maybe you are a bit too young to remember

Have a search, I don't care, don't vote me down if you are too stupid to look.

http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ship/row/rus/si-montgomery.htm

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FAIL

Half the problem

is the UK (are we alone in this) attitude that *everything* is secret, unless otherwise allowed.

Surely a better approach is that everything is public *except* the secret stuff.

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Pint

bah

bah.. how could you create lots of £100k jobs with gold plated final salary pensions with an attitude like that

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IT Angle

what was the technology?

It doesn't come as a surprise to me that this is an old story and that the documents were boring. However, the reason why I looked for the story on El Reg was to find out what format the documents were in and how their authors thought they had "redacted" them.

The Torygraph mentioned PhotoShop: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/8457506/Secrets-put-on-internet-in-Whitehall-blunders.html

So as part of the armoury of those who would like to persuade our less IT-literate colleagues that MS W*rd is not the only way of generating text, please could you tell us what technology was (mis)used here.

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The documents are PDFs

Of course, you can't easily identify the original format, but its must be about 1,000:1 on that they were MS-Word. What has often happened in the past is that black 'highlighting' is applied in Word (apparently masking the redacted parts) and the document converted to PDF format, leaving the underlying text intact. I think references to PhotoShop are just a blunder by the Torygraph.

The correct, secure redaction method is to print the documents (either electronically redacted as above or by use of a black marker pen) and then scan the result. This appears to be how the revised PDFs were produced, but someone should tell the MoDbods that best practice is not to follow the 'ragged right' outline of redacted paragraphs, which can still reveal (admittedly tiny amounts of) information about word and sentence length - or you can achieve the same effect by inserting a random number of Xs before and after the section to be redacted, which (comparing the before and after results) hasn't been done in this case..

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Redaction

> The correct, secure redaction method is to print the documents (either electronically redacted as above or by use of a black marker pen) and then scan the result.

Thus rendering the document completely useless for searching or quoting, reducing its quality for printing and reading, whilst increasing its size. If there's any piece of technology that's more abominable than MS W*rd it's the scanner.

Surely the correct way of editing a document is to use software that shows you what's actually in the file (eg Emacs) and then remove the bits that you don't want.

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Happy

@Dr Paul

That's what you'd do if you wanted to be helpful. But not if you want to be secure - there's a risk that data or metadata will be left behind unintentionally.

Which course of action will be most appropriate is, of course, dependant on circumstances (and who's making the decision).

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heh

Tegne your not the only one, I thought that the Duke had been delayed again!

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Happy

Hey...

I am under 35 years old so my attention span only lasted until the middle of the document's title before taking leave of absence!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Restricted

Yes, and I remember in my first company induction briefings we were told that whenever presented with a blank sheet of paper the first thing we should write was "Company Confidential" on the bottom.

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Boffin

My real question is

What do Merkins do that makes their reactors *so* much safer than their UK counterparts?

And *why* do the UK not adopt these methods?

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@Mystic Megabyte

The Norwegians have been closely monitoring those torpedoes for years and they've yet to discover any radioactivity 2 metres from them, let alone outside the submarine's hull.

There are also at least 2 cores from the Icebreaker "Lenin" which were dumped in the same area - unshielded - and the same results have been found so far.

Plutonium is quite heavy and it doesn't travel far in water. The Norwegians and Finns decided quite a while ago that the best course of action was to leave the things alone and let them get covered in mud.

Don't confuse that kind of thing with the quite messy results of letting off a nuclear device halfway down an old pacific volcano (aka, "sandcastle"), which produced a lot of short-medium life lightweight nasties that readily diffused into the surrounding wet soil and then dispersed into the water column. The results of those "experiments" are still being routinely detected at other pacific islands outside of French Polynesia.

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