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Watchdog: Lab Spurned Tech Solution

As storage networking vendors pitch solutions to security breaches at Los Alamos National Laboratory, a government watchdog group says at least one suggestion -- the use of diskless workstations -- was turned down long ago (see Vendors Descend on Los Alamos).

According to the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), government reps turned down a proposal to eliminate the use of "classified removeable electronic media" (CREM) by lab scientists at least three years ago.

POGO says Los Alamos's chief information officer, along with CIOs from other U.S. Department of Energy labs and facilities, met in August 2000 to discuss the need for better security to protect nuclear secrets from "insider" threats, given that scientists at Los Alamos and elsewhere use portable Zip drives and other CREM in their work.

According to a report written by POGO in October 2001, the assembled technologists agreed that the chief threat to the safety of nuclear secrets at Los Alamos was the possibility that a "trusted insider" would walk off with secrets that hadn't been adequately safeguarded in storage.

"Everyone agreed that DOE had to move ahead quickly on the 'insider' problem before the Hill or the press found out that virtually nothing effective had been done to stop a dedicated insider," the report states. "An implementation strategy was established at the Livermore meeting for near-term enhanced security for classified systems including implementing 'media-less' computing systems... A schedule was developed during this meeting that would have had this system in place before the end of 2000 at a cost in the neighborhood of $10-15 million. The consensus was that these changes would have taken DOE from a low confidence level that a trusted insider could be stopped, to near certainty."

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