FBI Can't Keep Track Of Its Own Laptops; Lose Three Or Four Each Month

from the quality-control? dept

Hardly a month goes by without stories of government employees losing laptops, potentially revealing all sorts of important information. Apparently it’s not limited just to folks like the Census Bureau, either. A new report notes that the FBI tends to lose three to four laptops every month. Some of these are just lost, others are stolen. While some of the lost laptops contain info about people, there are also even scarier cases, such as the lost laptop that contains software used by the FBI to create its ID badges. Why that software should ever need to be on a laptop isn’t explained. The only good news is that the report from the FBI suggests the rate of lost laptops is dropping (as is the number of lost weapons…), but that’s hardly comforting. Yes, it’s true that laptops do get lost and stolen — but you would hope that the FBI would be a bit more careful with its sensitive info. And, if it did need to go on a laptop, why not have a system in place to protect the data on the laptop once it was lost? Just a few weeks ago at DEMO, we saw Alcatel/Lucent demo a pretty simple system that would allow a system administrator to remotely kill access to content on a laptop (even if the laptop was off). You would think that an organization like the FBI would already have a system like that in place… but, we’re forgetting this is the same group that spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a computer system that was useless for catching terrorists and had to be scrapped, causing some to suggest the best time to kickoff a crime spree would be when that system was implemented. So, perhaps it’s no surprise that the FBI can’t do something as simple as secure its own laptops.

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Comments on “FBI Can't Keep Track Of Its Own Laptops; Lose Three Or Four Each Month”

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ej says:

laptop losses

Yes corps and government alike would probably half the number of laptop losses if they would just give ownership of them to employees and not provide replacements if they are lost or stollen. Naturally scrub the HD before returning them to the owner upon termination.

Who wants somebody elses smelly old laptop anyhow? I always considered mine to be like an old shoe. And I was surprised when the company wanted it back after I left. By then 5 years outdated? Whatever.

You could always hook in a tcp/ip hardware level command to ping a server with the serial number on startup. A low-jack sort of thing for recovering this stolen property.

Cixelsid says:

Hmm suspicious

I wonder if these so-called federal agents who frequently “lose” things, directly thereafter also “find” large caches of cash?

Anyway, why the hell is sensitive information kept local on a laptop? Shouldn’t this type of information be kept on a central server? Where you would require a password or something to access the information, usually hidden with large asterisks in the middle of the screen?

My assumptions are of course based on my exposure to american television.

Stats stink says:

Get it right

I wonder from what source this information is gleaned? if this is from some internal report, fine fair enough, but if this is from some insurance data, it is quite possible that LOST means damaged/broken/stolen. having reported my home laptop as a LOSS when it fell off my desk and broke, I can see how the FBI might have several instances when these very mobile computers may attain damage in the course of standard utility. albeit somewhat careless to treat your laptop in a way that would cause it such damage as to report a loss, these things happen to everyone.

Anonymous Coward says:

Having some experience with government inventory processes, these are most likely merely laptops that aren’t accounted for, not necessarily lost or stolen. Sometimes when old laptops break, they get disposed of without proper accounting. Sometimes they are under the proper owners desk, but weren’t counted as part of the inventory. Sometimes the inventory sticker falls off. Is a laptop really lost if the proper owner has it?

If you look at the actual losses, they don’t lose many new laptops, but a large proportion are five year old clunkers that cost more to find than to replace.

In that light, 3 or 4 per month seems like a really good number of “unaccounted for” to me.

Andrew Yu-Jen Wang says:

Speaking of the FBI:

The FBI does not like George W. Bush—Bush committed too many crimes.

George W. Bush committed hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism (indicated in my blog).

George W. Bush did in fact commit innumerable hate crimes.

And I do solemnly swear by Almighty God that George W. Bush committed other hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism which I am not at liberty to mention.

Many people know what Bush did.

And many people will know what Bush did—even to the end of the world.

Bush was absolute evil.

Bush is now like a fugitive from justice.

Bush is a psychological prisoner.

Bush has a lot to worry about.

Bush can technically be prosecuted for hate crimes at any time.

In any case, Bush will go down in history in infamy.

Submitted by Andrew Yu-Jen Wang
B.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1996
Messiah College, Grantham, PA
Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993

I am not sure where I had read it before, but anyway, it goes kind of like this: “If only it were possible to ban invention that bottled up memories so they never got stale and faded.” Oh wait—off the top of my head—I think the quotation came from my Lower Merion High School yearbook.

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