Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The need for exceptional security awareness training

This past December 17th, the Justice Department announced the guilty plea of a former FBI Contractor (http://baltimore.fbi.gov/dojpressrel/pressrel09/ba121709.htm) The contractor held a TOP SECRET security clearance. He knowingly released SECRET information that was published on a blog. Anyone with access to the web was able to access classified information on intelligence communication procedures.
The unauthorized release of SECRET information can cause grave damage to the US national security. Those with security clearances should be taught to understand the importance of protecting it. This incident helps stress the need for exceptional security training, protection and oversight. Security specialists in the government and Facility Security Officers (FSO) for cleared contractors are responsible for implementing and directing security programs to protect classified information. This includes ensuring cleared employees understand their roles in protecting classified information.
Some articles on the internet have questioned the decisions made in providing this person a security clearance. The failure may not only lie with those adjudicating the clearances, but also with other cleared employees not noticing the warning signs. Often those who disclose classified information in an unauthorized manner demonstrate tell-tale behavior. The biggest threat to national security may not be an adversary breaking in and stealing our secrets. Cleared employees, like the one in the article, are breaking the law and the trust placed in them. Security managers should continue to reinforce training and ceaselessly work to ensure Cleared employees protect classified information and report suspicious activities.

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