Nov 18, 1983, National Security Council Meeting, (clockwise) CIA Director Casey, VP Bush, President Reagan, SecState Schultz,  SecDef Weinberger, and CJCS Vessey


November 1979…besides the unfolding hostage crisis in Iran, a computer system loaded with the incorrect software almost initiated a full-scale retaliation against the former Soviet Union.

Four years later, President Reagan after watching the movie WarGames (loosely resembling the November 1979 event) asks the NSC staff at their next meeting how secure were government computer systems.

Imagine many of those gathered had served during the Second World War and “computers” were machines that occupied rooms.  One of those World War II veterans was Chairman JCS Army General John Vessey and he was given the “homework” assignment to find out.  He replied the following week, the situation was not good.

The first “National Policy on Telecommunications and Automated Information Systems Security” (NSDD-145) would be published the following September.

I have been cringing when reading the alternative media news coverage regarding voting machines, servers, thumb drives etc…maybe we’ll see necessary adjustments and responsible computer systems used for voting…though, there is nothing wrong with paper either.

Shall we play a game?


Article Link: WarGames and Cybersecurity’s Debt to Hollywood Hack  (New York Times)
Video Link: The 3 A. M. Call and the 1979 NORAD Alert  (3:32)
Video Link: How WarGames Changed Military Policy (2:00)

1. False Alarm–1979 NORAD Scare

2. National Security Decision Directive #145


Until Next Month…

Col (ret) Jeff Decker
LOA Historian