Dear god

Controlling the Air Force … via web browser

So. The Air Force has decided to create a centralized control system to launch strikes, track its planes, and monitor threats. The interface for this fab system? A web browser:

Air Force officials got their hands on the ultimate global video game. Thanks to a system upgrade by defense contractor Lockheed Martin (LMT ), flyboys (and girls) could hop onto a special Air Force network from any PC equipped with a Web browser and special military encryption and authentication software. Once on this network, they could call for air strikes, direct reconaissance planes, or plot the movements of the most powerful flying force on Earth — all from their laptop in a cafĂ© (or, more likely, at a secured facility). “All you need is Internet Explorer,” says Doug Barton, the director of technology for Lockheed Martin Mission Systems, based in Gaithersburg, Md.

Granted, there are many cool things about this system. Apparently, the various components operate in a mesh, peer-to-peer fashion, to increase robustness if America’s under attack. But the real problem is, does anyone think it’s a good idea to have deadly military force accessible via a bug-ridden web browser? Are these people on crack? Or is this some sort of compex piece of disinfo? I swear to god I don’t even know what to think about this.

Black-hat hackers, start your engines.

(Thanks to Plastic for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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