Print 18 comment(s) - last by johnfranks999.. on Feb 18 at 1:30 PM

Another security review is under way, as Los Alamos continues to try and deal with physical data issues

The Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico is being heavily criticized again regarding improper security measures that have led to stolen computer hardware over the past year.  

In the past year, 13 computers have either been misplaced or stolen along with 67 computers that are missing right now.  In another incident, a Los Alamos employee had three computers taken from his or her home, without officials announcing why the computers were allowed to leave the labs.  In addition, an employee lost his BlackBerry smartphone "in a sensitive foreign country," with similar incidents becoming too commonplace for a nuclear weapons laboratory.

"The magnitude of exposure and risk to the laboratory is at best unclear as little data on these losses has been collected or pursued given their treatment as property management issues," the memo stated. It further ordered the Los Alamos lab to "treat any loss of computer equipment with the capability to store data as a cyber-security concern," the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) watchdog group said in a public memo.

A total of 80 computers have been misplaced or stolen throughout 2008, with 11 successfully recovered.  Although no classified information has been lost, according to Los Alamos spokespeople, it's a troubling trend that still hasn't been properly fixed.

The theft incident last month involving three computers at an employee's home led the lab to have a month-long inventory and review of guidelines regarding work computer usage at home.

Despite recent data breaches, the Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration applauded the laboratory for working "diligently over the past year to complete the demanding requirements of the Secretary's Compliance Order," among other security successes.

Government officials expect Los Alamos to be one of the most secure labs in the country, yet simple security issues continue to plague the lab -- they've enacted numerous security precautions, and will have to again try and figure out what is not being done properly.

For example, the federal government criticized lab officials when a trailer of a former subcontractor at Los Alamos was searched and three USB flash drives containing classified nuclear data were found inside.  A year later in January 2007, sensitive materials regarding nuclear materials were e-mailed over an open, unsecured network, which was a serious breach of protocol.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By icanhascpu on 2/14/2009 7:14:06 PM , Rating: 5
Government officials expect Los Alamos to be one of the most secure labs in the country

Yet people can lug around full computers out by the dozen?

1. Fire those government officials. They are officially stupid.
2. Fire the 'security' and hire some compliant people and implement actual security.

RE: .....
By Brainonska511 on 2/14/2009 7:59:03 PM , Rating: 5
The parts of Los Alamos that actually have classified research have much stricter security standards. This is from the non-classified stuff, where research results are freely accessible and the high security isn't necessary.

It still is ridiculous how much is stolen, but it isn't nuclear secrets.

RE: .....
By Gul Westfale on 2/14/2009 8:45:02 PM , Rating: 3
yes and besides, every PS2 can launch ICBMs, don't you know?

RE: .....
By ira176 on 2/14/2009 9:56:28 PM , Rating: 2
No one should be allowed to bring in any electronics of any sort, and no electronic device should be allowed to leave without authorization and signout of what device it is and some sort of discrete location device like lojack or gps or something else that can be activated if the item is lost or stolen.

RE: .....
By Brainonska511 on 2/14/2009 10:28:03 PM , Rating: 5
Why do you need such tight security? It's overly restrictive and serves no real purpose. You have to realize that the stuff that is actually national secrets and classified research already has severe restrictions (no external computers, all internal computers cannot connect to the internet, etc...). This is the non-classified and general research that occurs at national labs in the US and thus doesn't need the extreme security measures.

RE: .....
By taber on 2/15/2009 12:47:49 AM , Rating: 3
Or maybe the security guards should just ask people why they're lugging a computer out of the building.

Seriously, the article states "no classified information has been lost", it's not that big of a deal. So long as they keep computers with classified material safe, they're doing a good job. The government wastes enough money already, I don't want them spending more protecting 70 $1k computers from being stolen.

RE: .....
By MBlueD on 2/15/2009 3:56:39 AM , Rating: 3
It will be too late when a computer with sensitive data is stolen. A computer may cost $1k, but the data on it may be worth much more.
They don't really need very high security for these things - only competent security. A simple ticket system or a log of incoming and outgoing electronics (at least laptops and desktops), maintained with some zeal, may be enough to reduce the changes of the worst case scenario to a negligible amount.

RE: .....
By Neutrion on 2/15/2009 2:56:16 AM , Rating: 2
Yup, pace makers and everything. Go all the way </sarcasm>.

RE: .....
By sunjava04 on 2/15/2009 5:29:53 PM , Rating: 2
seems like there were many chinese working in this lab....

"If you mod me down, I will become more insightful than you can possibly imagine." -- Slashdot

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki