State Department memo emphasizes vulnerability of notebook PCs

State Department memo emphasizes vulnerability of notebook PCs

By Tony Lee Orr

GCN Staff

MAY 18—A State Department inventory revealed that the agency is missing 15 of its 1,913 unclassified notebook PCs, officials said.

All 60 of State's classified notebooks have been accounted for, with the exception of a unit reported missing in March from a secure room in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, said Phil Reeker, a department spokesman.

State staff members today received a memorandum from David G. Carpenter, the department's senior adviser for security, warning them of the vulnerability of information stored on notebook systems.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is requiring each executive director to inventory the type of information stored on all unclassified notebooks and file a report on the matter by June 2, the memo states.

"Laptop computers are a high-risk target for theft and require us to take special safeguards to protect them," Carpenter's memo states. "The capabilities of laptop computers also create significant technical vulnerabilities. For example, infrared and modem capabilities can cause data to be transferred without the users' knowledge."

Staff workers must take better care of unclassified systems, and employees must report losses of notebooks to their executive directors immediately, the memo states.

The memo also warns State employees that classified notebooks must be protected in the same manner as other classified items and labeled with its highest level of classification.

The classified notebook PC has been missing since Jan. 31, when a worker from outside the bureau asked to use it, said J. Stapleton Roy, assistant secretary of State for intelligence and research. The department didn't report the computer missing for nearly two weeks as it tried to track down the notebook, contacting all personnel in the office as well as those outside the bureau authorized to use the computer, he said. Some 40 officials outside the country were contacted via phone or cable, Roy said.


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