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POGO: Internal Los Alamos document proves cyber security lapses long known

August 5, 2004 

 

An internal 2002 document from Los Alamos National Laboratory's Security and Safeguards Division makes clear that the current cyber-security failures at the lab are nothing new. The document, obtained by POGO, lists violations including: prohibited classified emails being sent over unsecured networks, a missing hard drive, employees generating classified data on unclassified systems, and lab officials allowing uncleared and unescorted foreign nationals into security areas. The Security and Safeguards Division is responsible for investigating these incidents.

Sources told POGO that these 35 security investigations were open and active as of September 2002. The sources added that the 35 incidents only accounted for what had been reported, and that there were other off-the-books incidents that went unreported.

In 10 cases, lab personnel sent classified information through unsecured channels, like emails, faxes and regular mail. In four instances, Los Alamos personnel left classified documents or disks unattended in copying machines, scanners and disk drives.

According to POGO's sources, the missing hard drive listed in the 2002 document had not been found after several months of searching. In addition, 10 classified disks were missing from the Non-proliferation and International Security Division in November 2002, and it is unclear if these disks were ever accounted for.

In July 2004, Los Alamos officials admitted they could not find two classified zip disks. Equally troubling, POGO learned that since May Los Alamos personnel had sent out at least 17 classified emails over unsecured networks.

"It is disingenuous for Los Alamos managers to feign shock at the current situation of missing classified media and classified emails going out over the Internet - this has been going on for years at Los Alamos and top managers at Los Alamos and the University of California have been aware of this chronic problem and simply never fixed it," said POGO executive director Danielle Brian. (The University of California has managed Los Alamos for the Department of Energy since World War II.)

Click here to view the internal 2002 document from Los Alamos National Laboratory's Security and Safeguards Division.


Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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