More Security Problems Turn Up At Los Alamos

The Project On Government Oversight has found evidence of more security breaches at Los Alamos National Laboratory -- one of the places in America's security-industrial complex that's supposed to be safe.

You all may recall multiple reports over the last few years of impossible-seeming breaches at the top-secret protected weapons lab. In 2007, authorities recommended a record fine against the lab's contract manager, the University of California, after finding that security procedures were riddled with gaps.

That recommendation followed the discovery that more than 1,000 pages of classified documents and "several computer storage devices in a trailer" occupied by an employee of a subcontractor who once worked as an archivist at the lab.

Now there's more, according to POGO.

"According to a Los Alamos internal email, it has not been a good week for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). There was a break-in at the Santa Fe home of a LANL scientist, from which three LANL computers were stolen. And in an unrelated incident, a LANL Blackberry was lost in a "sensitive foreign country." The internal email from the Threat Reduction (TR) unit notes that "this is garnering a great deal of attention with senior management as well as NNSA representatives."

"The email also points out that LANL officials expect to be questioned about systems on a "one-by-one basis, to ensure that these vulnerabilities were in fact addressed."

In regards to the break-in, a LANL spokesman assured the Los Alamos Monitor that the scientist "followed all lab policies" and it is 'fairly common for folks to have home systems.'"

Here's the email POGO obtained.

Now, people, really? Security is such a big deal. Why can't the lab get it right? Government Inc. worries that even worse breaches have occurred without ever coming to light. If you can, please give us a reason not to worry. If not, send us examples that need fixing.

By Robert O'Harrow |  February 2, 2009; 10:35 AM ET computer security , security
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Golly. That's still an ongoing issue? How ...(uh)... not very surprising.

In part, it's a cultural, tribal thing; goes right back to Richard Feynmann pranking J. Robert Oppenhiemer by getting into his office and "picking" the combo lock on Oppenheimer's classified document safe. Saying that some people at the lab have a cavalier attitude toward security is an understatement.

There are others who just don't get it. They are incapable of making a connection between what is done at the lab and how much some other people would like to have access to the material or documentary product of that work.

But that's all OK, because all of us who are in or have been in the complex know that there has never been any kind of breach at SNL, LLNL, or at DOE and it's predecessor organizations. So don't worry, be happy - all the problems are at LANL and no one would ever sweep any problems under the rug anywhere else.

(Of course something needs must be done, and it is; it's an ongoing effort that won't, can't, end. Is the "new" management at LANL up to speed on the issue? They certainly should be, or they should be shown the door.)

Posted by: vpaulus_dabq | February 4, 2009 2:52 PM

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