Report: DOE lax on spies
- By Dan Verton
- Jul 03, 2000
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 counter- intelligence as DOE's biggest
The "Report of the Redmond Panel," led by counterintelligence expert
Paul Redmond and delivered to Congress on 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
DOE 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" and said that "sample training materials were bureaucratic,
boring, turgid and completely inefficient."
However, the most pressing challenge facing the labs is cyber counterintelligence,
according to the report. "The magnitude of the problem and the complexities
of the issues are daunting," it stated.
DOE has thousands of systems administrators who have "very wide access,"
and tens of thousands of e-mail messages are sent to external addresses
each day, the panel found.
DOE has taken measures to beef up its cybersecurity, such as keyword
searches on outgoing e-mail messages and a pilot program to enhance intrusion
detection, but some efforts are meeting resistance from employees, the report
stated. For example, DOE and lab personnel have complained about "excessive
reporting burdens" as part of a comprehensive intrusion-incident reporting
DOE also recently hired a dozen retired FBI and CIA agents and military
intelligence officers to help inspect DOE's counterintelligence programs.
However, results won't be seen soon, the report concluded. "In spite of
progress in some areas, statements from DOE headquarters to the effect that
all is now well are nonsense," it stated. "Problems and deficiencies caused
by decades of nonfeasance and neglect cannot be fixed overnight."