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Project on Government Oversight

LANL Blackberry is Vacationing in a Sensitive Foreign Country

Related Content: Los Alamos National Lab
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January 29, 2009

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."  This statement seems to be contradicted by the internal email which points out that these instances reveal ongoing vulnerabilities in a system to track off-site computers. It is unclear whether those computers contained any classified material.

POGO is disturbed that missing computers and information devices (flash drives, Blackberrys) have once again become an issue at Los Alamos. "Here we go again," says Peter Stockton, POGO Senior Investigator. "It appears that LANL still has not created a system strong enough to prevent the potential release of classified material."

"Cyber Security" and "Safeguards and Security" are two of the Department of Energy (DOE) management challenges that the DOE Inspector General (IG) identified in its December 2008 Special Report. POGO expects both DOE and the IG to take a hard look at these most recent incidents at LANL and to recommend corrective actions to ensure LANL's system is infallible. 

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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