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U.S. Dept. of State Loses Laptop of Secrets

By Teneo in News
Tue Apr 18, 2000 at 12:23:50 AM EST
Tags: Security (all tags)
Security

It appears that Britain's MI's are not the only ones who can't keep track of their secrets. This article from Sunday's Washington Post (which is still a tired old liberal rag) details how a laptop containing "code word"-level information is now missing from Foggy Bottom.

In defense of the Department of State, they are not really sure if it's been stolen or just lost.

Here's an idea for the intelligence community: maybe we should not be putting super-secret information on laptops!

--Teneo


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U.S. Dept. of State Loses Laptop of Secrets | 24 comments (24 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Given the option, I would have vote... (none / 0) (#11)
by marlowe on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 12:02:34 PM EST

marlowe voted 1 on this story.

Given the option, I would have voted +0.5. This time I'm rounding up.
-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --

Heh, seems that laptops with such i... (none / 0) (#9)
by fluffy grue on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 12:35:12 PM EST

fluffy grue voted 1 on this story.

Heh, seems that laptops with such information have been disappearing quite frequently as of late.
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]

was the liberal comment reaaally ne... (4.00 / 1) (#2)
by joeyo on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 01:06:59 PM EST

joeyo voted 0 on this story.

was the liberal comment reaaally necessary?

--
"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi

The data on the laptop probably was... (none / 0) (#4)
by xah on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 01:26:54 PM EST

xah voted 1 on this story.

The data on the laptop probably wasn't even encrypted. How stupid would that be?

Hmm. I've seen "code word" level in... (none / 0) (#1)
by rusty on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 01:57:23 PM EST

rusty voted 1 on this story.

Hmm. I've seen "code word" level information. Most of it's not very exciting. The intelligence community and military have a fetish for classifying things that are already common knowlege. But hey, "spies losing laptops" seems to be a theme here, so run with it.

____
Not the real rusty

For sale: Laptop. Specials: Bulletp... (5.00 / 1) (#13)
by Raymond on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 02:13:10 PM EST

Raymond voted 0 on this story.

For sale: Laptop. Specials: Bulletproof casing with nice Bureau of Intelligence logo...
----- Someone you trust is one of us...

Stupid political trivia, not intres... (none / 0) (#14)
by Gregory Maxwell on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 02:16:38 PM EST

Gregory Maxwell voted -1 on this story.

Stupid political trivia, not intresting. Sounds like a sound-byte from evening news. I wouldn't expect any insightful talk on this topic.

Old lesson ... (none / 0) (#7)
by kmself on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 02:30:54 PM EST

kmself voted -1 on this story.

Old lesson

This is an old story, with an old lesson -- you have to maintain physical security over information assetts, and should probably rely on encryption for instances when security cannot be ensured.

The story in itself isn't sufficiently interesting to post. IMVAO.

--
Karsten M. Self
SCO -- backgrounder on Caldera/SCO vs IBM
Support the EFF!!
There is no K5 cabal.

Not a bad story, just doesn't fit t... (none / 0) (#10)
by nascent on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 02:36:07 PM EST

nascent voted 0 on this story.

Not a bad story, just doesn't fit tech and barely scratches culture. I mean, I'd read this story if I saw it on CNN or something, but...
nascent
http://www.intap.net/~j/

In every organization (whether they... (4.50 / 2) (#17)
by marks on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 04:32:19 PM EST

marks voted 1 on this story.

In every organization (whether they handle sensitive information or not), there should be a fileserver containing all documents. This certainly makes protecting your data (through firewall and backup) a whole lot easier. In the UNIX world, this is common practice, but in organizations with crappy sysadmins (he knows excel, so he must also know how to install our lan), you see more and more improvised lan's with workstations providing "central" storage through a shared C: drive, preferably on a laptop. Even if the organization does have a file-server, most users are usually not forced to store their documents on it, which makes most documents appear in the local 'My Documents' directory. These blunders of both the MI's and the Department of State could have been easily prevented by hiring someone that knows how to build a safe digital infrastructure (they're not that rare). When will they ever learn?

I guess after the UK screwed up, lo... (none / 0) (#6)
by skim123 on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 05:30:48 PM EST

skim123 voted 1 on this story.

I guess after the UK screwed up, losing their lap tops, it's time for the US, eh?

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


Blah. I am sure this is not the fi... (none / 0) (#8)
by evro on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 05:48:41 PM EST

evro voted 0 on this story.

Blah. I am sure this is not the first such snafu by the gov't, nor the first lost secret. I wonder why we're suddenly hearing about it all of a sudden. For example, my freshman year, we had a former director of the NSA in to speak to my CS seminar (no joke), and he told us that during the gulf war, a pilot took the entire codebook (which they were not supposed to do) and was shot down, so they had to throw out the entire codebook. He said one was sent from the Pentagon and arrived "In a matter of hours."
---
"Asking me who to follow -- don't ask me, I don't know!"

It's not just laptops that you have... (none / 0) (#5)
by Greener on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 06:08:26 PM EST

Greener voted 1 on this story.

It's not just laptops that you have to worry about. a CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) agent had a breifcase of secret documents stolen from the back seat of her car back in November.

isn't this old news?... (none / 0) (#16)
by iwehrman on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 06:32:51 PM EST

iwehrman voted -1 on this story.

isn't this old news?

this is kinda old news, isn't it?... (none / 0) (#19)
by slynkie on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 06:59:41 PM EST

slynkie voted -1 on this story.

this is kinda old news, isn't it?

Always interesting to see how the g... (none / 0) (#18)
by tidepool on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 08:09:57 PM EST

tidepool voted 1 on this story.

Always interesting to see how the gov. can screw things up.

In light of [former] CIA director .... (none / 0) (#15)
by jovlinger on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 10:26:32 PM EST

jovlinger voted 1 on this story.

In light of [former] CIA director ... erm... Freeh? taking home top secret documents on IIRC paper and unecrypted floppy, this isn't soo bad, now is it? After all, they've taken decent precautions like only mounting swap partitions encrypted, right? (I'm assuming that the main work drive and any working directories are ecrypted as well -- this is not mentioned in the article). If the thief was malicious, as opposed to merely opportunistic, and wanted the information more than the hardware, the CIA also needs to be worried about memory effects of the RAM (after all, the password to the drive would be stored in memory -- right?). Freshmeat has a program called overwrite that implements and links to an interesting paper on preventing this sort of recovery. Does anyone know of stronghold ICs? The idea is that the password is only ever stored in the IC, which is sheilded, and also functions as the endec (is there a word analogous to modem?) What other functions could it peform? Guaranteed erasure (refuse to decrypt with that key ever again) comes to mind.

Bah. Drop the whole "tired old libe... (none / 0) (#12)
by Field Marshall Stack on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 10:30:25 PM EST

Field Marshall Stack voted -1 on this story.

Bah. Drop the whole "tired old liberal rag" thing and maybe I'll consider the article -- it can be taken as a given that any mass-market print publication is a tired old rag of one flavor or another.
--
Ben Allen, hiway@speakeasy.org
"Nobody ever lends money to a man with a sense of humor"
-Peter Tork

next time clip your author credit i... (none / 0) (#3)
by ramses0 on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 11:17:10 PM EST

ramses0 voted 1 on this story.

next time clip your author credit in a story post. this story has merit, and yeah, you probably shouldn't be putting super-secret info on laptops. what's a good response to this? StegFS filesystems? (if you really want to know about stegfs, look it up on google or slashdot, i don't feel like scrounging up a good link :^)=

--Robert
[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]

Might be news, but doesn't seem muc... (none / 0) (#20)
by adric on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 11:43:30 PM EST

adric voted -1 on this story.

Might be news, but doesn't seem much meat for discourse here..

Government screw ups must be posted... (none / 0) (#21)
by hooty on Tue Apr 18, 2000 at 12:23:50 AM EST

hooty voted 1 on this story.

Government screw ups must be posted!

What's that old joke? (none / 0) (#22)
by evro on Tue Apr 18, 2000 at 12:55:29 AM EST

Oxymoron: Military Intelligence

---
"Asking me who to follow -- don't ask me, I don't know!"
Re: U.S. Dept. of State Loses Laptop of Secrets (5.00 / 1) (#23)
by Aztech on Tue Apr 18, 2000 at 04:22:59 AM EST

There a was an MI5 laptop stolen from Paddington station (London) then it was later revealed the night before another laptop was "lost" after an MI6 agent got totally sloshed on a night out on the town. I think MI6 was onto this, and obviously made sure they lost one the night before MI5 so they wouldn't be outdone.

Also, for good measure the most recent one was the third laptop stolen from a British Army lieutenant-colonel. Obviously the Army didn't want to be outdone by MI5 or MI6.

And... now this, looks like the US didn't want to be outdone by British incompetence, so they've started loosing them too. Who next ?

Re: U.S. Dept. of State Loses Laptop of Secrets (none / 0) (#24)
by daninja on Wed Apr 19, 2000 at 02:05:39 PM EST

In defense of the Department of State, they are not really sure if it's been stolen or just lost.
Boy, with defense like that...

I've posted something similar to the following on /. (but now that they under corporate reign they're a wee bit cautious as to what they print;):

There's got to be a market for laptops with a built in Lojack style of tracking device. This market would extend well outside of the government spook community, lot's of organizations have extremely sensitive data that ends up on laptops. How many corporate security officers would rest easier if it was 3 a.m. and they knew where their data was?

U.S. Dept. of State Loses Laptop of Secrets | 24 comments (24 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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