White House e-mail system crashes

E-mail service failure forces staffers to turn to cell phones

Obama administration officials, already frustrated by having to surrender their modern technology tools for the archaic systems of the White House, got a fresh dose of indignity when the White House e-mail system ground to a halt yesterday, the Washington Post reports.

According to various reports, the e-mail servers started failing about 10 a.m. and disruptions lasted well into the evening yesterday. White House aides reported not receiving a single e-mail throughout the day on their computers or BlackBerrys.

Obama aides had just switched over from their now-defunct transition accounts during the weekend and were handing out their spiffy new government e-mail addresses when the outage hit, the Post reported.

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Reader Comments

Thu, Feb 19, 2009 Earl McMahon NY

Using Micro$oft has a history of down time and attacks. It would seem that the president and staff would want a more secure way to communicate using email. Data encryption has been around for a long time and simple to enable on many systems. There are other, documented, secure enterprise email systems.. Novell Groupwise for one has never been compermised by viruses or attacks. I thought the whitehouse has used Groupwise in the past, if so look at the record of how this system performed then. Also, I seen an article where Obama's team was looking at converting to Apple infrastructure for computers and networking. Now that is the most secure computer operating system ever used. There is always the argument for both Novell Groupwise and Apple that there are more users using Micr$oft and there will be more attacks. The sad thing about that statement is people believe it. It is so far out in left field it is sickening. The truth is both Novell and Apple have proprietary OS and programs used in the hacker world, VB scripts, do not work on these OS's. Go for Apple and a better email system, like Groupwise, whitehouse..

Thu, Jan 29, 2009 IMS1

It’s time for the System Administrators at the White House to retire. If they are not eligible to retire then they should be fired or reassigned immediately; they simply don’t have the skills necessary to do the job! Sensitive emails were lost last year during the White House exchange server (email server) hardware upgrade. The old servers should have been imaged and backup tapes made prior to upgrading the equipment. Strike one! According to an article in the Washington Post (1/22/09) the software installed on the White House LAN is six years old. FDCC compliance was mandatory last year. If your shop is not FDCC compliant by now, then it’s a safe bet that the workstations and servers aren’t patched and the security setting aren’t applied either. As of 9 am Monday both Exchange and BES servers are down. They rebooted both machines and no joy! Strike two! The Post article mentioned above says it took a week for a user account to be created. User accounts/logins should be created before the users gets to the White House. After the customer reads the security brief they should be given their user ID and password. The article also said that you could not tell which computers were to be used for what purpose; hopefully they had classification labels on them. Strike three! It’s obvious that the White House IT shop is in need of help. Foreign Service Information Management Specialist could be used on a temporary basis to fill the gap until competent IT professional are brought onboard. Foreign Service Information Management Specialist are given extensive training in all areas of telecommunications. We are trained to install, maintain and operate exchange servers, telephone switches, secure voice and data communications equipment, satellite communications gear and diplomatic pouch/mail. The Obama team must be having a great time working with the current White House IT staff as well. These guys are probably self proclaimed ENTJ’s according to Myers Briggs. The interesting thing about working with IT ENTJ’s is how easily they are offended. The more the customers complain the more they distance themselves from everyone. Classic Geeks! The modern IT professional has to adapt to changes in technology and master a new system every week. The attitude and morale should really be low in the White House IT shop. Team Obama also needs to start putting in waivers with the Secret Service so they can use notebooks and a secure wireless WAN at the White House.

Wed, Jan 28, 2009 WoeIsMe

Sometimes there are more important things in the world to be taken care of than having a high technology White House. Obama so worships President Lincoln than maybe he should consider how Lincoln accomplished his day-to-day duties - he had pen, paper, and horses - not modems, satellites, and computers. Surely the Obama Administration is capable of running the free world without high tech? LOL!!!

Wed, Jan 28, 2009 RSB Arizona

So what technology solution does the White House email system use? Is it a commercial product or is it an open source software system? Inquiring minds want to know.

Wed, Jan 28, 2009

Welcome to the Federal Government!

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