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Physical security and cybersecurity go hand in hand

Physical security and cybersecurity go hand in hand
Physical security and cybersecurity go hand in hand

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By William Jackson
Feb 17, 2009

Los Alamos thefts show that you can=E2=80=99t separate physical security from 

The National Nuclear Security Administration recently dressed down Los 
Alamos National Security LLC (LANS), the contractor responsible for 
security at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, for its apparent 
mishandling of computer thefts from the weapons lab.

NNSA noted that the lab =E2=80=9Chad made great strides in improving the 
robustness of cyber security implementation,=E2=80=9D in a Feb. 3 memo released 
by the Project on Government Oversight, a private watchdog organization. 
But cyber security is not a standalone effort. =E2=80=9CFor example, on January 
16, 2009, three computers were stolen from a LANS employee=E2=80=99s residence 
in Santa Fe,=E2=80=9D the memo noted. =E2=80=9CThis incident has revealed several 
property management, accountability, incident reporting and cyber 
security concerns.=E2=80=9D

The problem was that the theft was treated as a property management 
issue rather than a cyber security incident. And that was just the tip 
of the iceberg. =E2=80=9CLANS has reported that 13 computers have been stolen or 
lost in the past 12 months, and that 67 computers are currently 
=E2=80=98missing.=E2=80=99 The magnitude of exposure and risk to the laboratory is at 
best unclear as little data on these losses has been collected or 
pursued given their treatment as property management issues as well.=E2=80=9D

In the early days of computing physical and cyber security were one and 
the same. Mainframe computers were locked in computer rooms and accessed 
by hardwired dumb terminals. But as computers became smaller, smarter 
and more ubiquitous, property and data were dealt with separately and 
there traditionally has been little reintegration of physical and cyber 
security. Today, data in any form can be the most valuable asset in any 
organization, government or private, and the proliferation of devices on 
which it resides means that physical security is becoming as critical to 
protecting it as cyber security.


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