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Nuclear labs restart computers

Three nuclear weapons labs have begun restarting their classified computers after a two-week halt prompted by security concerns.

Three nuclear weapons labs have begun restarting their classified computers after a two-week halt prompted by security concerns.

Three Energy Department facilities--Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and Los Alamos National Laboratory--shut down their secure computers April 2. Those labs now have written a "Tri-Lab Information Security Initiative" and are in the process of gradually restarting the computers, according to LANL's newsletter.

During the shutdown, almost all computers containing classified information were shut down while employees received security training and administrators beefed up computer security procedures. Only critical computers, such as those involved in monitoring weapons-usable materials, were kept up and running.

Scrutiny of the labs' computers increased in the wake of spying concerns and an unfavorable security rating from a DOE audit.

A Los Alamos National Laboratory employee, Taiwan-born Wen Ho Lee, was fired last month for violating the lab's security policies and for failing a lie detector test on questions about releasing U.S. nuclear weapons information to China. Lee hasn't been charged with a crime, and China has denied the allegations.

As part of their initiative, the three labs will have to meet a schedule of milestones with DOE monitoring the progress. The plan focuses on physical and administrative barriers to transferring information from classified computers to unclassified computers.

Restarting the computers isn't trivial, requiring approval from several levels of management for each computer.

In addition, the Los Alamos lab just finished installing a new firewall to protect its unclassified computers from unauthorized access. The lab began the firewall installation last October.

There are 152 publicly accessible computers outside the firewall, the lab said. Inside the firewall are about 17,000 computers, ranging in size from desktop machines to supercomputers.