Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Simson Garfinkel

A View from Simson Garfinkel

Rogue Programmer Sabotages Navy's Computers

A recent case highlights the unwarranted trust we put in programmers and sysadmins alike.

  • April 5, 2007

Richard F. Sylvestre, a former government contractor who had a top- secret clearance, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to sabotaging computers used to track U.S. Navy submarines.

This is an amazing story. According to this article in the Virginian-Pilot, Sylvestre planted a logic bomb in several navy computers after his company was passed over on a bid. He then fled to Italy.

Apparently, three of the five navy computers used to track submarines were shut down as a result of these actions. If all five had been shut down, the navy would have been blind.

Cases of programmers going rogue and planting logic bombs are widely known in the computer industry. It’s easy to forget how much raw power is yielded by programmers and system administrators. We want to trust these people. We need to trust these people. But ultimately, if we wish to protect ourselves and build a truly robust information society, we must develop techniques to minimize the amount of trust required.

Keep up with the latest in Security at Business of Blockchain 2019.

May 2, 2019
Cambridge, MA

Register now
Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to All Access Digital.
  • All Access Digital {! insider.prices.digital !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    The digital magazine, plus unlimited site access, our online archive, and The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Unlimited access to all our daily online news and feature stories

    Digital magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Access to entire PDF magazine archive dating back to 1899

    The Download: newsletter delivered daily

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.