Nearly 70 computers missing from Los Alamos nuclear lab

Energy Department rebukes nuclear lab for treating missing computers as property management issue and not cybersecurity risk, internal documents show.

U.S. officials are investigating the disappearance of 67 computers from the Los Alamos nuclear weapons lab in New Mexico, according to a nonprofit group that exposes government misconduct.

Of the missing computers, 13 were lost or stolen in the past year, including 3 taken from a scientist's home last month. A BlackBerry belonging to another worker was lost in a "sensitive foreign country," according to an internal Los Alamos Lab e-mail posted online by the Project On Government Oversight.

The group also posted a letter from the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration rebuking the Los Alamos lab for treating the situation as a property management issue and not as a cybersecurity risk.

The "magnitude of exposure and risk to the laboratory is at best unclear as little data on these losses has been collected or pursued given their treatment as property management issues," the DOE memo says.

The incidents are "garnering a great deal of attention with senior management as well as NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration) representatives," the Los Alamos Lab e-mail says.

The Associated Press reported this week that a Los Alamos spokesman said the computers may have contained names and addresses but did not have any classified information on them.

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About the author

Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service, and the Associated Press. E-mail Elinor.

 

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