Saturday, June 16, 2007

Los Alamos Emailed Nuclear Secrets

Back in January, several officials at the Los Alamos National Security plant, which designs and builds nuclear weapons, used an "open e-mail network" to share classified information on "the characteristics of nuclear material in nuclear weapons".

That's according to information released yesterday to the press by House Representatives John Dingell and Bart Stupak.

In a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, obtained by UPI, Rep's Dingell and Stupak said the e-mails had resulted in "the loss of control of top-secret restricted data."

According to Wired's Danger Room blog:

"The breach occurred when a consultant to the LANS [Los Alamos National Security LLC] board, Harold Smith, sent an e-mail containing highly classified, non-encrypted nuclear weapons information to several board members, who forwarded it to other members, according to a Washington aide familiar with the investigation who asked not to be named because the information is sensitive."

The Albuquerque Journal reported Friday that a security team from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory was sent to recover the laptop computers used to send the e-mail and arrived and took possession of the laptops within six hours of the breach.

No definitive word yet, however, on whether these laptops were the same laptops used to receive the data - and whether or not the email server (or servers) were checked into quarantine alongside the client machines.

(In fact, of the five or so reports I've read on this emerging story, not one has even mentioned "e-mail server" as a possible point at which the data may still reside.)

Los Alamos officials have thus far declined to comment on this story, citing "national security" concerns. Expect to hear more about this next week. According to the Wall Street Journal, National Nuclear Security Administration spokesman Bryan Wilkes said: "As a matter of federal law, we don't confirm, deny or acknowledge allegations of security violations."

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