[ISN] Laptops lost, stolen at Justice

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Tue Aug 13 2002 - 02:28:37 PDT

  • Next message: InfoSec News: "[ISN] Sleeping with the enemy"

    [While these are interesting stats, I would like to know how many of
    these laptops were lost by support personal and how many were lost by
    agents? Equally interesting would be to know the stats for lost
    personal sidearms, and badges and what the outcome was for those 
    parties. If the punishment was as severe, these stats wouldn't make 
    the news as often as they do.  - WK]
    By Matt Caterinicchia 
    Aug. 12, 2002
    More than 400 laptop computers at Justice Department agencies and
    bureaus that stored sensitive information have been lost or stolen,
    according to the department's Office of the Inspector General.
    "It is possible that the missing laptop computers would have been used
    to process and store national security or sensitive law enforcement
    information that, if divulged, could harm the public," according to
    the IG report.
    The FBI lost 317 laptops, which represents 2 percent of the total
    15,000 laptops in its inventory, according to the report. The U.S.  
    Marshals Service lost 56. The Federal Bureau of Prisons reported 27
    missing laptops, out of an inventory of 2,690. The Bureau of Prisons
    and the Marshals Service's audits cover laptop computers reported
    lost, stolen or missing from October 1999 to August 2001, and the
    FBI's audit covers equipment reported missing from October 1999 to
    January 2002.
    The Drug Enforcement Administration could not provide the IG with the
    number of lost or stolen laptops because of the "unreliability of
    data," according to the report.
    "The loss of these items is significant because of the sensitive
    nature of the missing property," Justice IG Glenn Fine says in the
    audit. "The information contained on these laptop computers could
    compromise national security or jeopardize ongoing investigations."
    Before last year, the FBI had not taken a complete inventory of laptop
    computers in almost a decade, breaking an agency policy that requires
    inventory to be taken every two years, Fine said.
    In a statement, FBI officials said they are tightening inventory
    control by strictly enforcing rigorous and regular property accounting
    procedures, promising a prompt and robust response to the loss of any
    sensitive property, such as a laptop, and defining and enforcing
    individual liability for negligently lost property.
    "We commend the inspector general and his staff for thorough
    investigation into this matter involving unaccounted-for laptop
    computers," according to an FBI statement released last week.
    John Pike, a former defense analyst at the Federation of American
    Scientists and now director of GlobalSecurity.org, said the loss and
    theft of laptop computers is a problem that will continue to plague
    agencies regardless of security measures. "It is a known fact that
    these laptops have been known to get up and walk off by themselves,"  
    he said.
    But Pike was not optimistic that the FBI's controls would be
    successful. "Personally, I think the problem is going to get a lot
    worse once the Trilogy system is completed."
    Trilogy is the FBI's $400 million information technology upgrade that
    will provide FBI agents with improved access to investigation files
    and other information. The IG report listed a series of
    recommendations for Justice agencies to follow. The proposals include:
    * Using bar codes and scanning devices to better track sensitive
    * Tightening requirements for reporting the loss of laptop computers.
    * Revising the guidelines for retrieving sensitive property from
      employees who leave.
    * Requiring that laptop computer disposal documents certify that all
      sensitive information has been removed from the laptops' hard drives
      before the computer has been discarded.
    As a result of the IG's recommendations, FBI officials said they could
    strengthen and better enforce current policies and practices as well
    as apply new security procedures (see box).
    "It is possible to reduce the number of lost or stolen laptops within
    these agencies, but I truly believe that there is no way to completely
    eliminate the problem," Pike said.
    Keeping Track
    The FBI, which is missing 317 of the more than 400 laptops lost or
    stolen at the Justice Department, plans to tighten its policies. The
    FBI will:
    * Conduct inventories of sensitive property, such as weapons and
      laptop computers, every year instead of every other year.
    * Establish firm deadlines for employees to report the loss or theft
      of FBI property to their supervisors and for supervisors to report
      to headquarters, for the Office of Professional Responsibility to
      initiate and complete investigations and for employees to enter
      losses into the National Crime Information Center, when appropriate.
    * Improve disciplinary measures applied to employees who lose a laptop
      or have one stolen from them.
    * Strengthen the policy for proper storage of FBI property outside the
    * Ensure that when employees leave the bureau, all property is
      accounted for and reimbursement is made for any missing property.
    * Improve the documentation of the destruction of excess laptop
      computers and hard drives.
    ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org
    To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn'
    in the BODY of the mail.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue Aug 13 2002 - 05:11:02 PDT