The soldier who allegedly aided anti-secrets website WikiLeaks did his dirty work in a secure chamber on a Dell laptop with an expired warranty, according to computer serial numbers disclosed during the trial of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning.
Manning stands accused of aiding the enemy, among other charges, by downloading a trove of classified data while assigned to Iraq as an intelligence analyst in 2009 and 2010. During court martial proceedings that began this week, prosecutors described the forensic evidence they collected at "the scene of the crime" -- a sensitive compartmented information facility, or SKIF, where Manning worked.
Trial-watcher Robert David Graham, chief executive officer of cybersecurity firm Errata Security, read a transcript of the hearings, which identified serial numbers on laptops found in the SKIF, and plugged the figures into vendor support sites.
Graham described his research findings on his blog: "We imagine SCIF's are super-secure rooms with powerful computers, like dramatized in the first Mission Impossible movie. What we see here is that it's actually a hodgepodge of outdated Dell laptops, in a trailer on a military base."
Graham discovered the warranty information while querying the database. "By the time Manning used these computers in November 2010, the warrantee had recently expired," he observed.