NSA Leaks Allegedly from Federal Contractor with Top Secret Clearance

A federal contractor with top secret security clearance now finds herself in some very hot water.

On June 3, 2017, the FBI arrested the contractor for allegedly removing classified documents from the National Security Agency in Georgia, and then mailing them to a news outlet. She is now the main suspect in the ensuing federal leak investigation and faces charges that could lead to a lengthy prison sentence, if convicted.

What was stolen?

First published by the Intercept, the classified document in question was a NSA report about a Russian cyberattack on a US voting software company just days before the 2016 presidential election. When an image of the document was published, authorities were able to determine the source of the leak because of identifying symbols located on the physical document. Prosecutors say that when confronted with the allegations, the contractor confessed.

Possible political motivations behind the leak

A decorated airman in the US air force, those who know the accused personally are trying to figure out possible motives behind her alleged actions. No matter the reason, however, leaks of this level of classification constitute a threat to national security.

“It’s a morally difficult situation because, yes, there is public value in these leaks, but by the same token, there’s a high public intelligence price to pay and the public is less protected in the future if this stuff gets out,” said Steve Hall, former CIA chief of Russia operations and current CNN national security analyst.

Proactive vs. reactive management of documents

One-time vetting of employees – even if the vetting is as thorough as the NSA – may not be enough to protect an organization from disgruntled or ill-intended employees. The coding on the printed doc helped identify the source of the leak and stop future leaks, but did you know that there is software that can monitor employee actions and alert administrators of suspicious activities before they escalate in the first place? Guardian for Content Server and Guardian for eDOCS can help your organization stop data leaks in their tracks. Proactively managing documents can protect your organization and your data. Learn more.

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