Feature

Text Size

NASA Langley Attempts to Put Data Theft to Rest
11.20.12
 
An increasingly mobile workforce comes with an increasing amount of IT security threats. This was made apparent on Halloween night when an unencrypted laptop was stolen from the locked car of a NASA Headquarters employee.

NASA laptop.

Click to enlarge

As of Nov. 21, all government-issued computers at NASA's Langley Research Center containing sensitive data must be DAR encrypted, and all individual files must be individually encrypted. By Dec. 21, all laptops or desktop computers, including those that do not contain sensitive files, must have DAR installed and operational. Unless DAR Encryption is active, computers should remain on center property.

It is not yet known if the personal information of any employees at NASA's Langley Research Center was compromised.

"Because of the amount of information that must be reviewed and validated electronically and manually, it may take up to 60 days for all individuals impacted by this breach to be identified and contacted," said Richard J. Keegan Jr., associate deputy administrator of NASA in a notice sent to all NASA employees.

On November 15, Center Director Lesa Roe issued a mandatory Data at Rest (DAR) encryption to protect NASA laptops and to ensure due diligence with respect to NASA data.

According to Mike Knight of NASA Langley’s IT Security department, about two-thirds of NASA Langley’s workforce has been issued a laptop.

When a laptop is not encrypted, the data on it becomes easier to access. DAR protects data stored on laptops and desktops from unauthorized access when the device is powered off and requires an additional login to unencrypt your system prior to your normal login.

The center has already encrypted more than 700 ACES laptops, as well as many government-owned devices. The Office of Chief Information Officer is working with center leadership and IT security to complete the remaining DAR installations.

Since communication from Roe was sent out last week, more than 100 systems have been encrypted, and another 200 are scheduled or in the process of being encrypted at the center.

As of Nov. 21, all government-issued computers containing sensitive data must be DAR encrypted, and all individual files must be individually encrypted. By Dec. 21, all laptops or desktop computers, including those that do not contain sensitive files, must have DAR installed and operational. Unless DAR Encryption is active, computers should remain on center property.

If your laptop is not encrypted, Langley's IT Security team is mobilized to resolve DAR issues and facilitate installations. Contact them at x44200 for assistance.

"Employees must remain vigilant in protecting NASA systems and information," Roe said.

By: Denise Lineberry

The Researcher News
NASA Langley Research Center
Editor & Curator: Denise Lineberry
Executive Editor & Responsible NASA Official: Rob Wyman