News of the WeekU.S. WEAPONS LABS

Security Fears Prompt Computer Shutdown

Science  16 Apr 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5413, pp. 412-413
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5413.412b

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Due to the continuing controversy over the alleged Chinese theft of U.S. nuclear secrets, Department of Energy officials abruptly suspended classified computing operations at the Los Alamos, Sandia, and Livermore national laboratories in New Mexico and California on 2 April and herded more than 20,000 employees--including many not involved in secret projects--to briefings on improving safeguards. Although some researchers say the time out was a necessary distraction, others worry that it could lead to new rules that will make the labs' computers harder to use but not necessarily more secure.