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(Gizmodo)   C:\ users\ USAF\AFSPC\ launch\ missilecmnd.exe   (gizmodo.com ) divider line
    More: Fail, USAF, AFSPC, air forces, Lesley Stahl, floppy, air launch  
•       •       •

15266 clicks; posted to Main » on 28 Apr 2014 at 2:44 PM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



Voting Results (Smartest)
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest

2014-04-28 02:10:09 PM  
15 votes:
missilecmnd.exe is too long for an MS-DOS based file system. missil~1.exe
2014-04-28 01:55:16 PM  
15 votes:
Nope, it's on a floppy, so:

A:\ users\ USAF\AFSPC\ launch\ missilecmnd.exe
2014-04-28 02:11:17 PM  
9 votes:

AirForceVet: This old technology possesses one advantage mentioned during 60 Minutes last night. It's cyber-secure according to tests as it's a closed system, independent from Internet access.


i1214.photobucket.com

Approves.
2014-04-28 02:39:06 PM  
8 votes:
They upgraded last year by notching the other side of the disk giving them double the capacity.  The project costs $293,093,398.34.
2014-04-28 02:08:13 PM  
8 votes:
This old technology possesses one advantage mentioned during 60 Minutes last night. It's cyber-secure according to tests as it's a closed system, independent from Internet access.
2014-04-28 02:26:12 PM  
5 votes:

Blues_X: AirForceVet: This old technology possesses one advantage mentioned during 60 Minutes last night. It's cyber-secure according to tests as it's a closed system, independent from Internet access.


That. It's secure, and it works.


Provided nobody has a magnet...
2014-04-28 03:03:30 PM  
4 votes:
We went to the moon with less.
2014-04-28 02:43:09 PM  
4 votes:

TheEdibleSnuggie: Blues_X: AirForceVet: This old technology possesses one advantage mentioned during 60 Minutes last night. It's cyber-secure according to tests as it's a closed system, independent from Internet access.


That. It's secure, and it works.

Provided nobody has a magnet...


Yeah, that. How many billion-dollar systems can be defeated because you slept with/blackmailed a tech, or they didn't background-check the janitorial staff at the third-party firm, or your secretary propped the door open when he left on his smoke break, or someone wrote down a password in plaintext?

Meat is always your weak link.

// one would think they have backup copies of the disk(s), but you know what they say about assumptions...
2014-04-28 02:20:57 PM  
4 votes:

TheEdibleSnuggie: Well, wait...How do we know the floppy isn't being used in conjunction with a program already stored on a hard disk or other permanent storage medium?  The floppy could just be a reference disk for the program at hand!


The old ones only held about 1 Mb, so I'm assuming they're used as system keys. It's not that crazy, because it adds to security to use an odd and specific hardware. Another advantage is that would be harder for bad guys to make a copy, real or fake, since the 8" drives are probably extremely rare these days.
2014-04-28 02:04:49 PM  
4 votes:
LOAD "missilecmnd.exe",8,1
2014-04-28 03:18:01 PM  
3 votes:

Destructor: Destructor: What, 100K or something?

Wow. According to Wikipedia, they could store a megabyte. That's "miraculous" by 70's standards.


Actually, with that density they almost never fail.  Our old System/36 used them and until we retired the thing around 2000ish the original disks STILL worked.  5 1/4" have a pretty low failure rate as well.  3 1/2" floppy disks were the bane of my existence when they were a thing.
2014-04-28 03:00:18 PM  
3 votes:
What works works. Would we rather have the USAF spend billions of dollars modernizing a launch control system that works exactly as designed when there is no compelling reason to? The floppies are used because they are cheap, easily destroyed and hard to conceal. They probably contain data required to complete a launch sequence and the data change every few hours. When I was in SAC in the 1970s, we had access codes and pass phrases that changed every four hours. These were delivered word-of-mouth and you had to know the previous values in order to use the new ones.

CBS got a peek and nothing more. They weren't shown how the system really works. Actually, only the final steps in a missile launch happen at the silo. The officers manning them could never launch without critical systems being enabled from elsewhere.
2014-04-28 02:56:35 PM  
3 votes:
MrBallou:  Another advantage is that would be harder for bad guys to make a copy, real or fake, since the 8" drives are probably extremely rare these days.

Came here to say this. Security through Obscurity has it's advantages.

It's probably pretty farking hard to upgrade a system like that, anyway. I imagine it's not the sort of thing you can allow any down time for, nor can you risk any glitches bringing up, or handing off to, the new control system. Besides, upgrading the launch system isn't going to make those missiles be any deadlier. Don't fix what ain't broke.
2014-04-28 02:01:51 PM  
3 votes:

dittybopper: Nope, it's on a floppy, so:

A:\ users\ USAF\AFSPC\ launch\ missilecmnd.exe


Came here to say this.

Also - 8 inch floppies???  HOLY CRAP!  I haven!t seen one of those in decades!
2014-04-28 06:52:41 PM  
2 votes:
It works. Every time.
Absolutely nothing out today can say that. Most of todays tech can't run even a week without issues.
New doesn't mean better. Only an ignorant child would think so.
That's why major companies still use these disks, and these systems.

You use Windows, you're a part-timer. You run a flavor of Unix? Amateur.

/ Come on my lawn if you want.
// but I promise, you will not make it.
2014-04-28 05:14:02 PM  
2 votes:

LesserEvil: Linux_Yes: What is even more horrifying is that they probably still use Windows on some of their equipment.  the Navy has learned the errors in its ways and moved from windows to Linux. same with the International space station.

and the NSA loves their Open Source snoop tools like Snort, etc.

Fascinating, as I work on the Navy intranet, home to over 400,000 PCs running Windows, and you statement seems to be complete bulls hit.



i should have been more specific, dinky.  google Navy Drone+linux and learn something.  the U.S. Army uses more Red Hat Linux than anyone.

and, yes, the International Space Station had to switch to Linux because their windows laptops,etc had picked up viruses.  do the research and learn something.  Google runs all its blades on Linux too.
2014-04-28 03:33:54 PM  
2 votes:
This is okay. During Sailbration in Baltimore I toured one 2nd most advance grey hull there. It was Norway and the systems used 2.5 inch floppy. They were not the only ones too. The American ships and Canadian ship used floppies too.

If it looks stupid, but works it isn't stupid.
2014-04-28 03:21:39 PM  
2 votes:
No worries, the UFO's have already shown they can shut that sh*t down at will.  the DoD is keeping mum about it, though.

here's some witness testimony to same from a Colonel in the Air Force who commanded missile silos.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=cYPCKIL7oV w# t=2241   (SFW)
2014-04-28 03:16:08 PM  
2 votes:
There's probably a gov warehouse of 8" floppy drives somewhere.  All that equipment would have stored backups.

Eventually replacement might become an issue, but what you would see is a system that basically emulates the 8" drive, which isn't that hard to concoct.

More challenging will be when microprocessor based systems can't get replacement parts because the machinery that produced those processors has long been scrapped.  At that point, you might as well rebuild it.
2014-04-28 02:59:17 PM  
2 votes:
i.imgur.com
2014-04-28 02:56:24 PM  
2 votes:
They don't seem wildly experienced?  I don't think I'd want a couple of cranky 50+yo holding the keys, who have been passed over for promotion and stuck in a silo for decades,
2014-04-28 02:22:48 PM  
2 votes:

AirForceVet: This old technology possesses one advantage mentioned during 60 Minutes last night. It's cyber-secure according to tests as it's a closed system, independent from Internet access.



That. It's secure, and it works.
2014-04-28 07:35:46 PM  
1 vote:

Mr. Breeze: Yeah, because upgrading and networking everything makes us so much more secure.

Except Assange, Snowden, heartbleed, stuxnet, etc... etc... etc...


Bradley Manning stole everything via a CD-RW and sneakernet, Snowden used flash drives, and stuxnet spreads via sneaker net and infected flash drives. The big thing that all three of these had in common was that even though the network itself was secure, the network security could be circumvented via physical access. In the case of Snowden, it was a case of the admins on the network having too much power and too little oversight. Again, the weakest link in computer security being the people.
2014-04-28 05:48:09 PM  
1 vote:
It doesn't matter if these systems work.  So long as they fail to "don't launch" everything is good.

They're never going to be used, they don't have to work.
2014-04-28 05:25:24 PM  
1 vote:
2014-04-28 05:09:13 PM  
1 vote:
As late as 1992, I worked on mainframe systems for the Navy that used 8" floppies.  Yeah, they had disks, and tapes, and optical drives, and remote terminals.

You know what the 8" floppy was for?  When you booted the system, it loaded its microcode from the floppy.

Flash RAM hadn't been developed to the point it is nowadays, and 'updating firmware' was not a standard practice, especially on Mil-rated mainframes.

Using a floppy was a reasonable way for the vendor to allow the microcode to be easily updated.

(Yes, we had backups - and backups of backups - of the disks.)
2014-04-28 04:55:20 PM  
1 vote:

jst3p: Stratohead: FTFA " launch silo"

WRONG.

a "launch silo" is where you store and launch a missile from.
a launch "capsule" is where the Missileers (or "turnkeys) reside while pulling alerts. if they sat inside the launch "silos" not only would that be counter to the redundancy protocols (things spread out far enough apart that no one strike can cripple our retaliatory capabilities) but it would kill the Missileers once the missile launched.

Wouldn't separating them cause two single points of failure?


no. the missile launch silos are miles apart from each other, scattered all across the us West/Mid-West. In the case of the MinuteMan squadrons...each Launch Capsule controls the launch of up to 10 MinuteMan missiles.
All components are hardened against EMP and theoretical deep enough underground to function if hit.
In reality...probably not... my preference is never to find out how well that shiat works.
2014-04-28 04:45:13 PM  
1 vote:

MrBallou: TheEdibleSnuggie: Well, wait...How do we know the floppy isn't being used in conjunction with a program already stored on a hard disk or other permanent storage medium?  The floppy could just be a reference disk for the program at hand!

The old ones only held about 1 Mb, so I'm assuming they're used as system keys. It's not that crazy, because it adds to security to use an odd and specific hardware. Another advantage is that would be harder for bad guys to make a copy, real or fake, since the 8" drives are probably extremely rare these days.


Old programs lacking flashy GUIs did not take up a lot of space. I assume their software is written in C or something comparably old. Those floppies may hold entire programs.
2014-04-28 04:38:14 PM  
1 vote:

AirForceVet: This old technology possesses one advantage mentioned during 60 Minutes last night. It's cyber-secure according to tests as it's a closed system, independent from Internet access.


I came to say this. I'd be a lot more worried if they had cloud technology instead of 8 inch floppies.
2014-04-28 04:32:50 PM  
1 vote:

special20: [i.imgur.com image 263x63]


My favorite Commodore 64/128 game:

www.orphanedgames.com
2014-04-28 04:17:13 PM  
1 vote:
c:> a:
a:> uudecode hotchick1.uue
a:> uudecode hotchick2.uue
a:> uudecode hotchick3.uue
a:> uudecode hotchick4.uue
a:> uudecode hotchick5.uue
a:> uudecode hotchick6.uue
a:> combine hotchick1 hotchick2 hotchick3 hotchick4 hotchick5 hotchick6
a:> c:
c:> lview.ext a:\hotchick.jpg
2014-04-28 03:52:37 PM  
1 vote:
Back during the Cuba Missile Crisis, my father was in SAC and on a bomber crew. He had just got home from having flown an Operation Watchdog mission (airborne for 72 straight hours with two flight crews aboard) and was bone tired. We didn't live far from the base and we heard the alert klaxon go off. A couple of minute later, our phone rang and my dad had to report back to the base immediately. By the time he arrived, the USAF had already cut all land-line communications and external power to the base. Reporting personnel could enter but no one was allowed to leave. When my father learned what was going on, he slipped under a fence and found a pay phone off base to call my mother and tell her to "get the kids in the car and get them the hell out of here now!" (stupid man. They'd have shot him if they had caught him.) This was at just after 9:00 pm. About a half-hour later, the alert B-52s and KC-135s launched. I knew my father was in one of them. I didn't see him again for four days. He never would tell me how they communicated with SAC HQ in such situations. I had to find this out when I served.
2014-04-28 03:44:09 PM  
1 vote:

dittybopper: WelldeadLink: 1. MS-DOS didn't have directories until they copied the feature from Unix.

Actually, I distinctly remember MS-DOS (and TRS-DOS, it's clone) having directories, and I got into it pretty farkin' early, so it must have been MS-DOS 1.0 or something.


I have thousands of pirated games on the 5 inch discs.
I have an "Apple II" that was built from parts in a junkyard to play them on.
I can also load windows 2 on the system.
2014-04-28 03:36:03 PM  
1 vote:

dittybopper: I have one at my desk here at work.  It's right next to a copy of "The Mythical Man-Month" by Brooks.  Both are from 1982.  It's my little "electronic data is not permanent" demonstration:  I hand them to people and say "Which one can you still read?".


Cover the disk with color-presenting magnetic ink. Your System Engineers have a bottle, for diagnosing magnetic tape behavior. Read the bits with a microscope.
2014-04-28 03:34:37 PM  
1 vote:
I visited the last battleship, Missouri, this year and was amazed at how antiquated the electronics and electrical systems were.  Everything was hardened, except the ability to splice power and the electronics.  So there are hardened electrical systems connecting, and switching stuff, and IBM computers that are normal business models, plugged in.  I don't think that they are connected.

I'm not sure what this has to do with missile silos (well, there's those Tomahawk thingies), but it's fun to look at old stuff.  Especially if it's still operational or nearly (this battleship was struck in Jan, 1995)

/I couldn't believe how big a switch was that controlled climate control stuff on the Big MO.  And everything still has placards from the manufacturer even though there's been a whole lot of consolidation in the electrical market since 1949.
2014-04-28 03:33:40 PM  
1 vote:

dittybopper: Nope, it's on a floppy, so:

A:\ users\ USAF\AFSPC\ launch\ missilecmnd.exe


1. MS-DOS didn't have directories until they copied the feature from Unix.
2. We're assuming DOS. That is unlikely if they're still using computers from the 1970s.
3. We're assuming that they're using computers. They might merely be loading settings for logic circuits or banks of relays... the electronic equivalent to wires on a plugboard.
2014-04-28 03:23:41 PM  
1 vote:

Linux_Yes: No worries, the UFO's have already shown they can shut that sh*t down at will.  the DoD is keeping mum about it, though.

here's some witness testimony to same from a Colonel in the Air Force who commanded missile silos.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=cYPCKIL7oV w# t=2241   (SFW)



corrected time stamp in link     https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=cYPCKIL7oVw # t=2332
2014-04-28 03:15:33 PM  
1 vote:
media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com
2014-04-28 03:07:43 PM  
1 vote:

AirForceVet: This old technology possesses one advantage mentioned during 60 Minutes last night. It's cyber-secure according to tests as it's a closed system, independent from Internet access.


not only that is unlikely that one of the users will absentmindedly plug it into a random computer somewhere else and get a virus on it and then bring it into work... ie USB
2014-04-28 03:06:40 PM  
1 vote:

cannotsuggestaname: dittybopper: Nope, it's on a floppy, so:

A:\ users\ USAF\AFSPC\ launch\ missilecmnd.exe


actually those aren't PCs... it is probably an AS400 or something similar on the back end, or maybe even a mainframe.

WRKF or WRKCMD would probably be used.


IDNWTV


OS/400 (or OS/i or i System or whatever the hell they're calling it now) is a beautiful operating system from an engineering standpoint, but who the hell thought that WRKSYSSTS is an "easily-memorable and understandable command" is a damn sociopath.

(WRKSYSSTS is "Work With System Status", obviously)
2014-04-28 02:58:59 PM  
1 vote:

Destructor: I don't believe it. I thought their fire had gone out of the Universe. But there it is. An 8" floppy disk.

Where do you buy new 8" floppy disks?


ebay

When I started at my current job (TV production) they were still using a switcher that is older than I am. We each had a 5.25" floppy with our own personal effects on it to load before each show. They had to buy new discs off ebay for new people.

Thankfully we have upgraded since then.
2014-04-28 02:56:39 PM  
1 vote:

Destructor: What's their backup? Cassette tape?


Magnetic tape is a more reliable and stable backup medium than CD.  Imagine trying to adapt those mainframe launch systems to backup to a RAID setup.
2014-04-28 02:56:02 PM  
1 vote:
We must prevent the Iranians from acquiring these capabilities.
2014-04-28 02:53:09 PM  
1 vote:
I worked at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for a while in a building used to build/prep satellites for launch.  I expected Star Trek type technology...

Man, was I disappointed.  My job?  Monitor temperature and humidity levels in the clean rooms and to call someone if they went out of specs.

After my first day, I realized a decent $300 computer could do the same.  They had someone in every damn building doing this.  My trainer had been there so long, the guy was making about $40,000 a year watching 2 dials.

They couldn't keep people in that job...was just toooooo boring. I lasted a month.
2014-04-28 02:52:22 PM  
1 vote:

dittybopper: Nope, it's on a floppy, so:

A:\ users\ USAF\AFSPC\ launch\ missilecmnd.exe



actually those aren't PCs... it is probably an AS400 or something similar on the back end, or maybe even a mainframe.

WRKF or WRKCMD would probably be used.


IDNWTV
2014-04-28 02:51:14 PM  
1 vote:
Who cares, as long as it works and it's secure?
2014-04-28 02:50:09 PM  
1 vote:
"First, the staff doesn't seem wildly experienced."

Well shoot, did they just sleep through the last few nuclear wars we had?
2014-04-28 02:49:53 PM  
1 vote:

Gig103: missilecmnd.exe is too long for an MS-DOS based file system. missil~1.exe


launch.exe

Not to be confused with lunch.exe, on the other floppy.
2014-04-28 02:49:33 PM  
1 vote:
Hey Ducky, let me stick this 8-inch in the computer.
2014-04-28 02:47:34 PM  
1 vote:

Dr Dreidel: // one would think they have backup copies of the disk(s), but you know what they say about assumptions..


I don't, actually, but you seem pretty sure that I do...
2014-04-28 02:16:11 PM  
1 vote:
Turn your key sir!

ishootthepictures.files.wordpress.com
2014-04-28 02:06:23 PM  
1 vote:
And I would think it would be:

C:> a:

A:> misslecmnd
 
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