Friday, November 5, 2010

Storing Classified Information Keeps Cleared Employees Honest

We’ve all been there, the calls coming in just as we reach our homes or late at night. Someone didn’t properly security classified information. Many times investigations conclude that classified information has not been compromised. However, time, energy and resources are spent to conduct investigations, find root causes and re-train.

To prevent the above situation, end of day checks serve as a precaution against leaving classified information unattended. The last cleared employee departing an area where classified material is used, stored, transmitted or is otherwise accessed, should follow a check list prior to leaving. The checklist leads the employee to inspect storage containers, tabletops, walking surfaces, printers, copiers, and computers to ensure that no residual classified material is left unattended. While the end of day check is vital when leaving classified areas unattended, they are not required when an area is manned 24 hours per day, seven days per week. This is according to National Industrial Security Operating Manual (NISPOM), section 5-102.

Though not required by NISPOM, government forms are available on line for use or just to serve as model in the strengthening of security programs. Companies are free to use these forms or create their own. The government forms are available online. One such form is the Activity Security Check List, Standard Form 701. Again, unless the contract or Government agency requires the use of a specific format, the company is free to adapt their own version. Regardless of the system used, the security checks are effective measures and have proven successful. Unsecured classified information would have otherwise been susceptible to compromise.

The biggest threat to national security doesn’t arrive with a burglar breaking in. Unattended classified information provides great opportunities for accidental or purposeful unauthorized disclosure. Chances are the classified information that is left out may be compromised by an uncleared employee or at least an employee with no need to know. Justice department websites are full of investigations and court cases involving trusted employees involved in the unauthorized disclosure of classified information. Improving end of day checks, employee security awareness training, and the reporting of security infractions and violations just makes it harder for the insider to steal, copy or otherwise remove classified information. Reduce opportunities; reduce risk.

No comments: