It has been a bad week for the federal government’s own information security track record.
The first story comes from the FAA where hackers broke into the agency’s computer systems and stole personal information on some 45,000 individuals. The second story comes from Los Alamos National Laboratory, which confirmed the theft of 67 computers, 13 in the past year alone. In both instances the American people appear to have dogged a bullet. The electronic intrusion into the FAA appears to have been limited to a raid of personal information and did not interfere with air traffic control systems. Also, the physical thefts at Los Alamos apparently did not result in the disclosure of any classified data (e.g., information on the U.S. nuclear stockpile), though what information was taken is still unknown. In both cases governmental entities that we hope would be heavily secured against both electronic and physical thefts appear to have suffered embarassing breaches. The moral (one hopes) is that while there may be no such thing as perfect security, all of us – including our friends in the government – may need to be working a bit harder and should have a plan in place ahead of time for managing any incidents that eventually arise.
Federal Aviation Administration website
- AP/U.S News & World Report article on the FAA breach
- Newsweek article
- Security Focus article
Los Alamos National Laboratory website
- AP/Yahoo report on Los Alamos thefts