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[ISN] FBI unsure if missing notebook PCs contain sensitive data
From: InfoSec News (alertsinfosecnews.org)
Date: Tue Feb 27 2007 - 02:22:52 CST
By Jana Cranmer
The FBI has reduced notebook PC losses by 312 percent since 2002, but
the bureau has failed to adequately report whether stolen computers
contain classified or sensitive data, the Justice Department Office of
the Inspector General said in an audit report  last week.
When losses occur, the FBI must timely report the loss, be able to
identify the contents of lost laptops and determine whether the laptop
is encrypted, the bureaus IG said in a follow-up report to a 2002
analysis. In addition, the FBI must investigate these losses and thefts,
enter required data into the National Crime Information Center and
report the losses to the DOJ as required.
The IGs most troubling discovery was the FBI could not determine in many
cases whether the lost or stolen laptop computers contained sensitive or
The FBIs data was incomplete, auditors found. Of the 160 notebooks that
disappeared between February 2002 and September 2006, employees filed
only 152 forms to provide information about whether the notebooks
contained sensitive or classified information. This information could
include counterintelligence or counterterrorism case information,
personal identifying information or classified information on FBI
operations, the report said.
The forms revealed that eight missing notebooks contained sensitive
classified information, but these forms failed to provide a complete
picture of the losses. The auditor said 43 other forms did not state
whether the lost notebook contained sensitive or classified information.
Without knowing the contents of these lost and stolen laptop computers,
it is impossible for the FBI to know the extent of the damage these
losses might have had on its operations or on national security, the
In addition to the insufficient information reported on these forms,
employees reported in a less than timely manner that 38 notebooks were
missing -- more than 10 days after their disappearances -- delaying loss
After discovering the FBIs insufficient tracking of missing notebooks,
auditors recommended that the FBI:
* Maintain adequate records on how many notebooks are authorized to hold
* Document the disposal of excess notebooks and hard drives to ensure
sanitation of all sensitive or classified information prior to
* Report weapon and notebook losses to DOJ.
* Ensure that property is recovered from employees before they leave the
* Adhere to its policy on property storage.
The bureau agreed with most of the recommendations and plans to
While the Inspector General acknowledged that the loss of certain
resources is inevitable in an organization the size of the FBI we
nevertheless stand committed to increasing the institutional and
personal accountability to further increase the progress we have made in
minimizing the loss of information technology components, said FBI
assistant director John Miller in response to the audit.
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