Saturday, August 9, 2008

Can't the Mounties do ANYTHING right?

The once highly regarded RCMP, highly regarded that is everywhere in the world except in Hollywood (Duddley Do-Right, etc.) and the Stamford, Connecticut headquarters of the WWE (remember Jacques Rougeau's ridiculing them?) has become of late a joke in its home country with pension fraud, multiple Taser ™ incidents and more recently serious security breaches, like this one.

One has to wonder about the state of national security in Canada, when someone receives a page for a mysterious phone number; and when that number is called back one hears a highly detailed and sensitive message intended only for the ears of certain Mounties -- namely, the tactical squad, or if you prefer a SWAT team with even more dangerous weapons -- who as it turns out were scheduled to be called to Parliament on Sunday to prepare for a very sensitive operation -- one related, it seems, to the Olympics now on in Beijing.

The crazy thing about it is that the recipient of the page is one Tim Wentzell who is a web page developer for Transcontinental Media, a media and printing giant in Canada. Its publications include Canadian Living, the St. John's Telegram and the Charlottetown Guardian, and the Canadian editions of TV Guide and Elle. Its printing contracts include Time and the Globe and Mail.

Clearly, all publications with an axe to grind against the Mounties for various reasons. How on earth did they get a page not intended for them? Doesn't someone in Ottawa or Regina keep an eye on pager lists to make sure they're updated as personnel enter and leave the force?

One notes with a bit of scorn that the Cons made over $4 billion from the sale of bandwidth to new cell phone companies last month -- the area currently occupied by UHF channels 52 to 69 (which are being phased out to make way for 3G as well as digital televison, as is the case in the States). Can't they spare just a teeny, tiny bit of that to make sure the press is kept in everlasting darkness, as Harper is so wont of doing?

The Cons certainly can't claim the Liberals are at fault for this. After all, Wentzell says he only got the pager number assigned to him in January of this year and has been receiving two to three mystery pages a week since then. It's only this time that the area code was attached which finally tipped him off. Imagine if an Al Qaeda operative had gotten hold of that phone number instead. Can't the cops at least have a password protected voice mail, so that if someone gets a number by accident on their pager, they're blocked out from getting the actual message when they call back? That would take, maybe, five seconds to set up.

It's time to plug the vulnerabilities. Both the ones we find out about, as well as the ones we should never have to even know about unless we absolutely, positively have the need to know.

Vote for this post at Progressive Bloggers.


wilson said...

Is it known yet if the paging service provider made the mistake?
I can't imagine the RCMP pager number list including Wentzell.

BlastFurnace said...

That is something the Mounties and the pager service are both trying to figure out. I admit there is the occasional misdirected page. But three times a week over eight months? Uh-uh. Something of this nature would mean an autodial list much like a mass e-mail list. Someone must have made a mistake at the Mounties' end entering the number.

If the page(s) was (were) intended for the tactical squad, you'd think the sender make sure every recipient whom it was intended for had responded. This is something that should have been investigated months ago.