Los Alamos Data Protection Woes Persist

LANL's deeply disturbing data management problems apparently aren't over

September 17, 2007

1 Min Read
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What's wrong with the Los Alamos National Laboratory? Allegations of security breaches with the potential for heartstopping consequences continue to surface, but the lab appears unable to close the loop on some major concerns related to storing and retrieving data.

The latest salvo from watchdog organization Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is the following shocker:

  • A computer which may have contained highly classified nuclear weapons information from the Los Alamos National Laboratory was traded in exchange for drugs, according to unconfirmed sources. The computer was owned by Jessica Quintana, the former contractor employee at the Lab who pled guilty in May to removing classified information after hundreds of pages of documents were discovered in a methamphetamine drug raid at her trailer.

Three memory sticks containing "classified LANL documents" were seized in Ms. Quintana's trailer, POGO alleges, but the accompanying computer was never retained by police. POGO's final message: "The computer remains missing. Stay tuned."

Earlier this month, POGO cited a draft National Nuclear Security Administration Act (NNSA) evaluation report on the Los Alamos Site Office (LASO) that says the lab needs "continued improvement in most functional areas" and has "significant gaps in meeting NNSA requirements."

All this follows on a rash of ongoing complaints about the security of the lab, many focused specifically on data stored on memory sticks and laptops that apparently operate independently of the high-end storage solution LANL has chosen.Clearly, it's time for some government soul-searching. While storage-related security snafus from the likes of Iron Mountain Inc.

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