The United States Strategic Automated Command and Control System or SACCS reportedly replaced its floppy disk data storage that has been used for US nuclear arsenal.
The Air Force 595th Strategic Communications Squadron, or the unit that manages the system, said it has got rid of the eight-inch floppy disk with a ‘highly-secure solid-state digital storage solution.’
According to a C4ISRNet, the SAACS machine floppy disk was released in 1976, the first-ever series, which cost approximately $10,000 to $100,000. The disks offer rack-mounted memory units, which store up to 131,072 bytes of data. In the later 1980s, the said data storage technology was discontinued in the market.
Since then, SAACS had never upgraded its storage system, even when it made news in late 2016. The Register website disclosed how the strategic unit has an outdated data storage system. A watchdog said that “Coordinates the operational functions of the United States’ nuclear forces, such as intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear bombers, and taker support aircraft.”
The watchdog also added that the outdated data storage system would be replaced in 2017, however, the command and control system only does it three years after.
The Government Accountability Office or GAO said that the IT investments of the United States are becoming obsolete; hence, many agencies still use outdated software languages and hardware parts. The body also said that the schedule for replacement cannot be done right away, citing the cost of the overruns and ‘contributing little to mission-related outcomes.’
The federal government has, in fact, spent billions of dollars on failed IT investments, which suffer ineffective management.
Active-duty personnel manning the system are young and inexperienced. Many of this personnel reportedly lack the ‘cyber transport’ experience in their careers. They are only trained to manage the modern IT infrastructure, therefore, floppy disks are not their specialty. In maintaining the system, these professionals must learn skills like how to solder metals.
According to an employee fixing the electronics on SAACS, “Any electronic repair is going to take a lot of work. I shouldn’t say it’s difficult, [but] unfortunately a lot of the newer electronics are plug and play. The challenges get a little larger when we’re actually repairing them down to component level,”
Lack Of Security Features
The outdated data storage consists of eight-inch disks, holding 80KB of data on current nuclear forces. The information from these disks is confidential, and if someone plans to hack it, success is guaranteed due to a lack of security layers.
According to reports, the system will be replaced over 2020, and no final date was released.
SAACS hardware is decade old and software needs an immediate upgrade to improve security.