Tuesday, June 2, 2020
The Importance of Classification Markings and the secrets they tell.
Cleared Defense Contractors, employees, and government workers review classified information, but may not understand how or why the markings are applied. Sure, it's obvious that the markings do warn of the classification level and how to protect it, but the markings also show so much more.
Classification markings are applied by the Original Classification Authority and provided for many reasons to include, warning of classification level, determining what is classified, the length of the classification duration, and who made the classification decision.
Marking classified material is a method of warning and informing of classification level, the exact information to be protected, of downgrading and declassification instructions, reasons for classification and sources of classification, and special access, control or safeguarding requirements.
In classified documents, the classification level is applied to the front and back covers, top and bottom of pages, paragraphs, figures, tables and charts. They are placed in conspicuous locations on objects, computers and other types of media. This chapter demonstrates how to inspect classified items for proper markings and how to properly mark classified items originally created or derived.
Guidance for Marking Classified Material
Executive Order 13526 delivers guidelines for assigning classification levels to objects and information. The Government classifies information to provide proper safeguarding and prevent unauthorized disclosure, loss or compromise of classified information. The amount of classified information generated should be kept to the minimum needed to build any system or accomplish any mission.
When receiving classified information, the FSO should check it against a receipt, inspect it for proper identification and markings and bring it into an Information Management System (IMS). If there are marking discrepancies, the receiver should rectify the situation by either sending it back or fixing the mistake themselves according to directions in the appropriate security classification guide (SCG).
Security violations could occur if classified information is not marked properly. Suppose an engineer of XYZ Contractor goes to the company’s centralized document storage area and signs out a document classified as SECRET. According to company information management policy the user is to return the item to document control prior to the end of the work day, or when they leave the office. The engineer takes the document back to his office and works with it. After a while his eyes get tired and he grabs his day planner to check his schedule.
He is reminded of an upcoming meeting with the social committee and begins to reflect on the near term company picnic. He gets up and walks to the window to look at proposed picnic location. While gathering his thoughts, he hears a knock at the door and walks over to open it. As he passes his desk his eyes glance at the document’s markings of SECRET on the top and bottom of the opened pages. He then closes the classified book and picks it up. With the book closed and firmly secure in his hands and the outside protected by a cover sheet he opens the door and sees his buddy from across the hall. They both have clearances, but are working on two different contracts. His buddy has no need to know of the contents of the book.
In the example, the markings served to remind the engineer of the classified information in his possession and ensured that he maintained proper control and accountability. The marking also reminded the cleared employee of the responsibility of verifying clearance and “need to know” before disclosing classified information.
Classified markings also convey what exactly needs protection. For example, a cleared employee reviews a classified document and is able to determine from the portion markings which information is TOP SECRET, SECRET or CONFIDENTIAL. This information is important as a cleared employee would need to correctly transfer the classification of any information derived from the document to incorporate into a new document (derivative classification). Additionally, if any UNCLASSIFIED information needs to be removed for a sanitized product, the information will be properly identified in the portion markings.
We offer security training for security clearances and how to protection classified information @ https://www.bennettinstitute.com
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