Report slams DOE counterintelligence

The Energy Department's counterintelligence training and awareness program

has "failed dismally," a study by an independent panel of security experts

concluded, characterizing cyber-based counterintelligence as the department's

biggest challenge.

The "Report of the Redmond Panel," led by counterintelligence expert

Paul Redmond and delivered to Congress June 21, studied DOE efforts to weed

out spies and security leaks at the nation's weapons laboratories. The House

Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence established the bipartisan team

of investigators to examine the progress of security reforms throughout

Energy in the wake of last year's Cox Committee report on Chinese nuclear

espionage.

"There has been no discernible, effective effort from DOE headquarters

to establish and support an effective counterintelligence training and awareness

program," the report stated. It called DOE's annual security refresher programs

"perfunctory," adding that the "sample training materials were bureaucratic,

boring, turgid and completely inefficient."

However, the most pressing challenge still facing the laboratories is

cybercounterintelligence, according to the report. "The magnitude of the

problem and the complexities of the issues are daunting," the report stated.

DOE's security environment is marked by thousands of systems administrators

that have "very wide access," and tens of thousands of e-mail messages are

sent to external addresses each day, the report found.

DOE has taken measures to beef up its cybersecurity mechanisms, such

as keyword searches on outgoing e-mail messages and a pilot program to enhance

intrusion detection, but some efforts are meeting stiff resistance from

DOE employees, the report stated. DOE and lab personnel, for example, have

complained about "excessive reporting burdens" spurred by DOE's use of a

comprehensive intrusion incident reporting system.

DOE also recently hired a dozen retired FBI, CIA and military intelligence

officers to help inspect DOE's counterintelligence programs. However, it

will be a long time before results can be seen, the report concluded.

"In spite of progress in some areas, statements from DOE headquarters

to the effect that all is now well are nonsense," the report stated. "Problems

and deficiencies caused by decades of nonfeasance and neglect cannot be

fixed overnight."

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