The BLS publishes the monthly U.S. Employment Situation report, which the world watches closely for the latest unemployment rate and change in nonfarm payrolls.
Large parts of the report are redacted due to security issues, but it highlights worries that what the report refers to as “profit‐driven, technically sophisticated individuals who may have considerable resources at their disposal” could gain access to and leak data while it was still embargoed.
In a world of algorithmic trading where seconds mean millions of dollars, this could be bad for market confidence and the reputation of the BLS.
Their concern is highlighted by this picture from the report:
This is a picture of a press agency’s work station in the secure “lock-up” area from which the data is released. It shows multiple and somewhat obscured “black boxes”, the devices used to control data release. Sandia’s investigators were concerned that the clutter could serve to mask efforts to alter the equipment. They suggest limiting press organisations to a limited number of clearly visible, tamper evident boxes.
Credentialed press organisations are able to bring in their own equipment and use private data lines in an effort to get the data out faster, creating another possible avenue for a breach.
Other sources of concern include private contractor access to communication closets, and the lack of shielding against radio transmissions.
The BLS announced changes to the process in April, which it modified last week. As of July 6th, reporters will have to leave their personal effects in lockers before entering the lock-up facility. New rules governing acceptable computer equipment go into effect in September, private IT equipment will be allowed, rolling back April’s restriction to government-owned computers.
However, the equipment will have to be pre-approved and shipped directly from the manufacturer.
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