What are they talking about? Are we living in the land of confusion now?

I was watching the KELOland news report last night on the SOS office, and allegedly missing documents, and I have to say that was one of the most confusing stories I’ve ever watched.

It seems there’s a bit of folderol and a lot of confusion about a few things.  A “hack,” “a server,” and some documents that were taken off-line.  I guess I’m confused about the hype, because at least for the parts I’m aware of, it seems there’s a lot of misinformation out there.

Speaking about the alleged “hack” that happened, if it’s the one I’m thinking of in April of 2012, if I recall, it was one of those annoying, but occasional things that happen from time to time.

Someone outside of state government was trying to grab copies of the business filings that resided on the state of SD’s Mainframe Server.  BIT – The Bureau of Information Technology – would have notified us that someone was eating up all our shared resources. And when I say they were eating up resources, they would have been trying to figure out how to download all the public documents placed on-line at once.

And that’s an important point. These were all public documents, just like campaign finance reports, lists of notaries, etc.  There’s no secret information stored there.  Same stuff any joe off the street could go in and ask for today. However, the system was designed to allow people to look up documents one at a time, as they are today. But try to take them all, which was not ever intended, and it creates a log jam.

So they (BIT) shut down that portion of our website until tech support could block them. That required us to put a notice on our web site that business filings were unavailable on-line, and people seeking it could call in for the information.  (And you still couldn’t get it all at once, either.)

As soon as the offending party was identified and blocked, or the solution found, click, they flip the switch back on.

And that leads me to the other point. The “server.”  At that point in 2012, any and all business filings would have still been in an old format, and residing on the state’s mainframe server, inside the state’s firewall. 

In fact, I’m not sure contracts had been signed yet on a project that was in it’s infancy – to move state election night reporting onto the Microsoft Azure cloud and off of state servers because BIT was screaming about the resources needed to serve up the results.

(And for those asking, that Microsoft Azure cloud server, as far as security went, it was backed by a global incident response and monitoring team 24/7.)

For the rest of it, it happened after I left, so I can’t speak to it with any authority. That, and business filings weren’t my area. I managed the staff who handled notaries, pistol permits, the office computer guy, and I wrote the blue book.

When you’ve got a story that talks about “hacks” and “servers,” most people’s eyes glaze over, and if someone wants to make something of it, it’s pretty easy to gin people up because most people don’t understand. And a “hacked system with thousands of documents being taken off-line” is much more exciting than blocking someone trying to download too much at once.

14 thoughts on “What are they talking about? Are we living in the land of confusion now?”

  1. It sounds like someone trying to boost their rating by throwing around ‘sexy’ words like ‘Hacked’ and ‘Server’ and few others. They have heard the words before, and they sound, guessed as what they mean and used them again.

    It all about the ratings

  2. I think SOS Krebs should stop throwing mud at Gant — her constant posturing is exhausting. She got the job she wanted and rightly so — Gant stepped in plenty of mud himself. But she would be well advised just to do her job and not be positioning for another one quite so soon.

    1. I supported Pat Miller when she ran for the office and had no trouble supporting Shantel. But it bothers me that more than a year later she’s still trying to run for the office on Jason’s back.

      8 years of “I’m not Gant” just means she’s going to be a 8 year civil servant and gone while others move past her and are elected for Governor and Congress.

  3. Gant was one of the worst secretaries of state we have had. Poor management. Terrible responsiveness. The list could go on and on.

  4. There are certainly lots of places Krebs could throw Gant under the bus, but this ain’t one of them. Anyone want to pick that scab?

  5. My understanding of this entire issue is that it came about after reporter Bob Mercer wrote the story below and couldn’t find these documents he was looking for in regards to what happened at the Platte murder, suicide, fire, Mid Central Education Cooperative. Once he realized they were not available for his research he looked into the issue and so did the other media in the state. These were public documents. They were taken down because some personal identifying information might have been present on those documents and they needed to be redacted. I have faith that Krebs will get those documents back online and available to the public.

    (Sorry for the redaction, but don’t post entire articles, please. It violates copyright and fair-use principles. – pp)

    1. This makes much more sense than the hypersensitive comments from a few about Shantel Krebs going out of her way to trash Gant.

      It’s nice to see a rational comment that points out the facts. I know many attorneys who utilize the SOS office and they rave about the performance in the office since Shantel Krebs took over.

  6. Do you work in that office? Your knowledge of this issue sounds like you do. Why is a state employee blogging at 4:28pm?

    1. 7:06pm Do you not like facts that don’t fit your preconceived narrative?

      1. You assume Shantel trashed Gant. Not true. She answered the questions of a reporter. That’s being an accessible and accountable public servant to the people.

      2. When logical explanations are presented you leap to another extreme assumption in an attempt to criticize the messenger.

      Both Jason Gant and Shantel Krebs are very nice people. The public and media has a right to know what happened to public documents if they can’t be found in the traditional way of online searches.

      1. A person might buy that if Shantel could talk about what she’s done in that office without belittling her predecessor.

  7. Ease up dude. We see tweets, inatagrams and facebook posts from our delegation (or most likely their staff) during business hours all the time. It’s the modern digital work world we live in. Trade in your Commodore 64 on a MacBook and join us.

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