I was surprised by the colour coding as well, albeit more from a usability angle than colour-blindness:
What are "danger" red and "success" green meant to represent?
My natural inclination would be to have no background colour for insecure, and then [colour of choice] for secure.
It makes me wonder how ignorant on the matter I am, and whether red and green are some form of standard for secure/insecure notifications.
They are. If you look at photos that the military/government publishes of facilities, the secure stuff is always red, and the public stuff is always green (well, always is a strong word. It is occasionally black). (I was going to include such an image now but I can't seem to find a search term for it that will find what I want.)
I agree, it seems a little backwards, but I guess it's a piece of domain-specific knowledge you don't forget once you've acquired it.
The convention evolved early, when secure communications were rare. The US/NATO clearly marked the secure lines with bright red phones, since the major danger is sending something in plaintext rather than secure, while the reverse error is more harmless.
The green phones followed (since green is the complementary color of red), more out of cargo cult thinking than any usability purpose, which is why you'll still see a lot of black equipment (because the colour of the unsecured line is relatively unimportant.)
And now, we have a hand-me-down convention that contravenes one of our hard-wired conventions about colors:
Green: Go, Proceed, Correct, Benign
Red: Stop, Not permitted, Incorrect, Harmful.
It is odd, but much like the wrong sign on the electron, you get used to it.
I'm confused; the article you linked to consistently says it's the other way around:
- The green and red buttons at the front are for switching to SECURE and CLEAR mode respectively
- When the user presses the green button... The exchange then switches to encrypted mode
- ... Press the green button on the phone to cause the exchange to switch to encrypted mode
- In normal use... the call is not encrypted and the red LED, marked Klar (clear), lights up
- In secure mode, the red ET button can be used to switch back to clear mode again
Or is this a classic illustration of UI confusion?
Thanks, I had absolutely no idea about this.
I guess red/caution makes sense if the thinking is "this is secure, be careful with it!"
There are endless procedures about handling classified information. You are dealing with state secrets, girding for war, and what have you. From the perspective of security, you are 'arming' your system when you go to secure mode. It is not the time to relax because you are 'safe' (safe from evesdropping), but a time to watch every word - the President has access to information that he should not share with many people who are cleared; you need to be cautious and circumspect. Red is entirely appropriate in that mindset. Secure is a burden, a huge responsibility.
L-3 Communications advertises (pdf) the GSIMS system as
the most advanced secure communication system for VIP and
Head of States aircraft
If not, I wonder who it's being marketed to?
This has been an obvious problem since the dawn of communications of any sort. No government on Earth would blindly install foreign systems. They wouldn't blindly install domestically built units (what better way to get the inside track then to accidentally be able to listen in on your government's private conversations).
People need to realize that nothing Snowden disclosed was news to any government, especially its security people.
History is full of stories that makes this not true dating back to even Xerox machines that the US tampered with before selling them overseas.
Enigma encryption was sold -to governments- for many years after it had been thoroughly broken.
A lot of that is the red tape and overhead related to having it certified and having as much of it produced in US as possible.
Also wonder if secret service or FBI will pay extra attention to the author for being a little too interested in that topic. Nothing too serious of course, just some visits to his workplace, maybe interrogating his friends, spouse or kids. (Has happened to a friend of mine, after making an inappropriate joke in a forum, and that was before 2001)
But it is always useful to see new info.
It is surprising that they are relatively new.
I would have thought that that the NSA would be more sly about their unattributed propaganda sites. That whole site is full of bullshit whitewashing.