We spend a lot of our time telling people what they need to do to secure their business – only because we have their best interests at heart.

That makes it especially satisfying to grab a slice of perspective and tell everyone to give themselves a pat on the back as they realise they’re probably doing IT way better than the US military!

That is, of course, a bold statement when we think of cyber warfare and the Edward Snowden revelations of government digital eavesdropping. But not so bold since we discovered that the United States of America’s nuclear arsenal still relies on… floppy discs.

8-inch floppy disk

Yes, disks used to be 8 inches!

It’s hard to know whether to be amused or terrified at that revelation. Probably more the latter.

A report by the US Government Accountability Office actually says that the systems which co-ordinate intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear bombers and their supply tankers “runs on an IBM Series-1 Computer – a 1970s computing system – and uses eight-inch floppy disks”.

An IBM Series-1. If you can find anyone in this country with something that old still doing a useful job you’ll have unearthed a treasure.

The US spend tens of billions of dollars every year keeping this rickety old system (which was apparently already unreliable in the 70s) running and the best justification The Pentagon could give was that it’s still in use because it still works. Well, a Windows 3.1 PC could very well still work, but you wouldn’t keep your accounts on it if you wanted them to be safe.

Maybe the biggest security ‘feature’ of this setup is that the technology underpinning it is so old today’s hackers don’t even understand it! Still, we will probably all sleep better knowing the replacement system, due by the end of 2020 (!), is finally in place.