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Saturday, October 19, 2002



Navy missing
computers

An audit finds "serious risk" in the loss
of 187 machines, 22 of which
may have classified data


By Gregg K. Kakesako
gkakesako@starbulletin.com

An internal audit shows that 187 computers, including some known to have handled classified documents, are missing from Pacific Fleet warships and submarines, the Navy says.

Noting that it is working to answer questions raised in the audit this summer, the Navy said 22 of the missing 187 laptop and desktop computers have the potential of processing classified information, but it was not known if they still contained the data.

The Naval Audit Service report issued July 23 found "a serious risk that personal computers containing sensitive and classified information have been lost or compromised, which presents a threat to national security and a potential embarrassment to the Department of the Navy," according to Defense Week and Reuters news service.

Reuters reported that the missing laptop and desktop units featured removable hard drives, had been leased to the Navy, and were capable of processing classified information.

But Jon Yoshishige, Pacific Fleet spokesman, last night said the audit did not cover the Pacific Fleet's shore facilities and "we believe they are still in Navy custody and we think that once the review is completed these computers could be ashore."

Yoshishige said the audit covered the fleet's 15,000 computers assigned to its submarines and warships.

He said the Pacific Fleet is working on the audit's recommendations, one of which is to improve its inventory control of computers.

Yoshishige said the audit's conclusion was that the Pacific Fleet approached "its responsibility to the recommendations with appropriate sense of urgency."

Reuters said the Pacific Fleet, based in Pearl Harbor and commanded by Adm. Walter Doran, sought to prevent release of the Naval Audit Service report, even though it was not classified.

"A release of this information could negatively impact national security," wrote Rear Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the fleet deputy commander in chief. His comments, dated Sept. 6, were contained in an appendix of the report.

"Data was not available as to how many of the remaining PCs were used for classified processing," added a footnote, leaving open the possibility that many more or all of those missing might have handled secret information.

The auditors cited a breakdown in management of the leased computers and the lack of any system to track them.

The Atlantic Fleet's computers and laptops were not examined.



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