Saturday, December 29, 2012

Protecting Proprietary Data and Intellectual Property-FSO Task

The Opportunity
If employed by a defense contractor, chances are that you perform work on
goods and services for research and development of a weapon system or other new capabilities. That being the case the DEFAULT focus as a Facility Security Officer (FSO) or security specialist is on technical data.
The problem is: while there is abundant guidance on protection of classified information (proscriptive regulation aka NISPOM) bridging the GAP between classified and sensitive, protecting unclassified is of utmost concern. Here is where FSOs can really provide value to the enterprise.

The Problem
Take a look at this paraphrase from Allen Dulles' book The Craft of

In the 1950's the US Congress was concerned that there was just too much technical information available on government programs.  From that concern, they commissioned researchers to assemble as much information from public domain about a particular program as they could. The group scoured libraries, newsstands, TV, radio and other media common to the decade and provided a report. As a result, the government determined the information to be classified, safeguarded the information and disbanded the group. The lesson; intimate program details were not properly identified, marked and protected.

The best result is we learned a valuable lesson and no longer have to worry about sensitive information appearing in the public domain, NOT. Here is a modern day example:

Recently the State Department reacted to an ITAR violation where Georgia Tech Research Institution made ITAR protected training available on their website.

In this case, the US Government had identified the information as ITAR controlled, but GTRI mistakenly made it available to both US and foreign nationals. See story here:

In the first example, sensitive information was not properly identified and therefore could not be handled appropriately. As a result, compiled information became classified. The second example demonstrates what can happen when information is properly identified and marked, but handling is not fully understood.

There are many other accounts of technology that is passed through theft, public release, presentations, white papers, patents and etc. How do we solve such problems?

Incorporate an enterprise-wide, comprehensive system of identifying sensitive information by owner and technology, then limiting distribution. For example, where NISPOM gives guidance on how to protect information already identified as classified, Proprietary information, ITAR controlled technology, intellectual data and others aren't always given the same level of scrutiny.

Protecting company sensitive information
This may need to be performed at the contractor level. Once sensitive items are identified, intimate program details should be cataloged and documented. Those who work with and handle the technical information can fully understand who owns it, how to get access to it and how to properly limit distribution.

Be sure to include technical information owned by customers and vendors.
Employees should understand how to properly handle sensitive information of outside organizations. If it's not clear, ask.

Finally, any technical information that is legitimately distributed should only be done so with a joint understanding of how to use and further distribute the technical data.

Jeffrey W. Bennett, SFPC, ISP is the owner of Red Bike Publishing Red Bike Publishing . Jeff is an accomplished writer of non-fiction books, novels and periodicals. He also owns Red bike Publishing. Published books include: "Get Rich in a Niche-Insider's Guide to Self Publishing in a Specialized Industry" and "Commitment-A Novel". Jeff is an expert in security and has written many security books including: "Insider's Guide to Security Clearances" and "DoD Security Clearances and Contracts Guidebook", "ISP Certification-The Industrial Security Professional Exam Manual", and NISPOM/FSO Training" See Red Bike Publishing for print copies of: Army Leadership, The Ranger Handbook, The Army Physical Readiness Manual, Drill and Ceremonies, The ITAR,and The NISPOM

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