Energy secretary orders offices to screen e-mail

In the wake of the espionage scandal at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los
Alamos, N.M., the Energy Department is taking steps to more closely analyze and screen
sensitive e-mail sent by workers at its facilities.

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson this month told the Senate Select Intelligence
Committee that his department wants an additional $8 million added to its fiscal 2000
counterintelligence budget to implement a cyberinformation security program.

“The Congress and the public urged us to tighten e-mail, and I’m ready to
listen to good suggestions,” Richardson said.

The lab on March 8 fired Wen Ho Lee, a scientist in the Theoretics Division, for
security infractions.

The violations turned on instances of failing to properly safeguard classified
material, said John Gustafson, team leader of Los Alamos’ Public Affairs Office. Lab
officials will not comment further about Lee because of an ongoing government
investigation, Gustafson said.

Lee’s division studies fluid dynamics, and atomic and optimal theory in both
classified and unclassified environments, Gustafson said.

The lab has no formal e-mail policy. Employees have access to online training materials
and a guidance office, however, and attend lectures and annual refresher courses to help
them distinguish between classified and unclassified material, Gustafson said.

“Ultimately, it’s the employee’s responsibility to know what information
is appropriate and what information is not appropriate to send in e-mails,” he said.

The additional $8 million will increase Energy’s counterintelligence measures
budget to $39.2 million next year. Richardson’s announcement of the department’s
cyberinformation security initiative coincided with six initiatives to strengthen
counterintelligence efforts.

Energy has implemented new safeguards on both classified and unclassified e-mail
originating from its facilities, Richardson said.

“I can assure the public that we have taken dramatic steps,” he said.

Los Alamos scientists use Unix workstations. But they also use Apple Macintoshes and
PCs for word processing and applications not supported under Unix, said Chris Kemper,
group leader of Los Alamos’ Network Engineering Group.

The lab has multiple e-mail systems, but most employees get their e-mail through Unix
Post Office Protocol/Internet Message Access Protocol servers.

They use Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Internet Explorer or Eudora Pro from Qualcomm
Inc. of San Diego to send e-mail, Kemper said.

Los Alamos earlier this month also installed a new firewall to reduce its
computers’ vulnerability to hacks.      

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