'Symbolic' Grauniad drive-smash was not just a storage fail

The whole thing was embarrassing, says Reg man Chris Mellor


Blocks and Files The word "cabinet" can mean a piece of furniture in which you store something and the digital version of this is a disk drive or flash drive. Having said that, the idea that by destroying the drive you destroy the data is so far from reality in today's data centres that anyone professing it is profoundly idiotic.

Which brings us to the Guardian newspaper and the UK's Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood. It's reported by the BBC that Prime Minister David Cameron ordered Hayward to contact the paper over its reporting of information leaked by US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

He did so and its editor Alan Rusbridger says the newspaper had to physically destroy computer hard drives as a result. The Graun reports:

On Saturday 20 July, in a deserted basement of the Guardian's King's Cross offices, a senior editor and a Guardian computer expert, David Blishen, used angle grinders and other tools to pulverise the hard drives and memory chips on which the encrypted files had been stored.

As they worked they were watched by technicians from Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) who took notes and photographs, but who left empty-handed.

The idea that the data on the hard drives hadn't been copied to backup systems in the offices or the cloud is so far beyond belief as to be risible. The GCHQ technicians must have been laughing up their sleeves, and the Guardian's computer expert chortling away up his. Both knew data copies existed, as the Guardian reports make clear:

The editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, had earlier informed government officials that other copies of the files existed outside the country and that the Guardian was neither the sole recipient nor steward of the files leaked by Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor. But the government insisted that the material be either destroyed or surrendered.

The destruction is described as a symbolic act, but all it symbolised was ignorance and face-saving. It was petty and stupid, the action of an ignorant and frightened bully, and that is how the UK government's behaviour in this affair seems: petty, ignorant and bullying. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Despite global uncertainty, $500m hit doesn't rattle Nvidia execs
    CEO acknowledges impact of war, pandemic but says fundamentals ‘are really good’

    Nvidia is expecting a $500 million hit to its global datacenter and consumer business in the second quarter due to COVID lockdowns in China and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Despite those and other macroeconomic concerns, executives are still optimistic about future prospects.

    "The full impact and duration of the war in Ukraine and COVID lockdowns in China is difficult to predict. However, the impact of our technology and our market opportunities remain unchanged," said Jensen Huang, Nvidia's CEO and co-founder, during the company's first-quarter earnings call.

    Those two statements might sound a little contradictory, including to some investors, particularly following the stock selloff yesterday after concerns over Russia and China prompted Nvidia to issue lower-than-expected guidance for second-quarter revenue.

    Continue reading
  • Another AI supercomputer from HPE: Champollion lands in France
    That's the second in a week following similar system in Munich also aimed at researchers

    HPE is lifting the lid on a new AI supercomputer – the second this week – aimed at building and training larger machine learning models to underpin research.

    Based at HPE's Center of Excellence in Grenoble, France, the new supercomputer is to be named Champollion after the French scholar who made advances in deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs in the 19th century. It was built in partnership with Nvidia using AMD-based Apollo computer nodes fitted with Nvidia's A100 GPUs.

    Champollion brings together HPC and purpose-built AI technologies to train machine learning models at scale and unlock results faster, HPE said. HPE already provides HPC and AI resources from its Grenoble facilities for customers, and the broader research community to access, and said it plans to provide access to Champollion for scientists and engineers globally to accelerate testing of their AI models and research.

    Continue reading
  • Workday nearly doubles losses as waves of deals pushed back
    Figures disappoint analysts as SaaSy HR and finance application vendor navigates economic uncertainty

    HR and finance application vendor Workday's CEO, Aneel Bhusri, confirmed deal wins expected for the three-month period ending April 30 were being pushed back until later in 2022.

    The SaaS company boss was speaking as Workday recorded an operating loss of $72.8 million in its first quarter [PDF] of fiscal '23, nearly double the $38.3 million loss recorded for the same period a year earlier. Workday also saw revenue increase to $1.43 billion in the period, up 22 percent year-on-year.

    However, the company increased its revenue guidance for the full financial year. It said revenues would be between $5.537 billion and $5.557 billion, an increase of 22 percent on earlier estimates.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022