Monday, June 23, 2014

Backups? What Backups?

IRS cancelled email archive service shortly after Lois Lerner et als, computer crashes
The coincidences just keep on a-rolling in the IRS targeting scandal. It turns out that the IRS didn’t just pay some low-level schlep to recycle backup server tapes on a six-month basis to maintain their e-mail records. They paid an outside firm, Sonasoft, to archive that data for long-term retrieval — or at least they did. That contract got canceled just weeks after Lois Lerner’s hard-drive failure, the Daily Caller learned:
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) cancelled its longtime relationship with an email-storage contractor just weeks after ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s computer crashed and shortly before other IRS officials’ computers allegedly crashed.
The IRS signed a contract with Sonasoft, an email-archiving company based in San Jose, California, each year from 2005 to 2010. The company, which partners with Microsoft and counts The New York Times among its clients, claims in its company slogans that it provides “Email Archiving Done Right” and “Point-Click Recovery.” Sonasoft in 2009 tweeted, “If the IRS uses Sonasoft products to backup their servers why wouldn’t you choose them to protect your servers?”
Sonasoft was providing “automatic data processing” services for the IRS throughout the January 2009 to April 2011 period in which Lerner sent her missing emails.
But Sonasoft’s six-year business relationship with the IRS came to an abrupt end at the close of fiscal year 2011, as congressional investigators began looking into the IRS conservative targeting scandal and IRS employees’ computers started crashing left and right.
Oddly, this doesn’t appear to have come up in testimony from officials at the IRS. John Koskinen’s opening statement at the House Ways and Means Committee hearing of how hard the IRS worked to retrieve that data didn’t include any effort to restore a Sonasoft backup from the servers, or mention any outside contractor at all. The existence of this contract appears to have been a better-kept secret than NSA snooping through Internet service providers.
As usual, there are two ways to look at this.  You can take the conspiratorial point of view that the IRS cancelled the Sonasoft contract to help hide the evidence of the incipient scandal that they saw on the horizon.  The second, and more likely explanation  IMHO is that the Sonasoft was not performing as promised (and maybe Lerners et al computer crashed demonstrated that), and the IRS was on the verge of replacing them with their own massive IT expansion.  It's hard for me to credit the IRS folk with the foresight to cancel the contract due to a scandal well before it blew up in their faces.

On the other hand, maybe the emails in question are still saved somewhere on a reel of tape, or a stack of CDs, when Sonasaoft handed back its IRS archives.  I really haven't heard that anyone has looked.

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