U.S. Intel Chief: Insider Leaks A Top PriorityStrategies to prevent another Wikileaks will take years to perfect, but the cloud could save time and money, says director of national intelligence James Clapper.
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Building the architecture necessary to prevent another Wikileaks might take several years, director of national intelligence James Clapper said at an event Thursday in Washington, D.C.
The Wikileaks scandal, in which 260,000 diplomatic cables, many of them sensitive, were burned onto CD-RWs and later published online, has accelerated work toward ensuring that information sharing is secure, Clapper said in a speech on information sharing at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. However, there is no silver bullet to preventing insider threats.
"Inherently, we've always had a responsibility for protecting against insider threats," Clapper said in a speech on information sharing at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Wikileaks has heightened our sensitivity. In the IT context, the insider threat is quite profound, and that's why everybody is more sensitized to being alert."
The intelligence community is taking a multi-pronged approach to addressing the insider threat problem, Clapper said. Among other things, the community is developing a "national insider threat policy," is investing heavily in more pervasive auditing and monitoring capabilities, is improving identity management, and is tagging data as a means of access control. In addition, any of the policies and procedures around removable media have already been overhauled, and security clearance procedures are continuing to improve, he said.
[ How one thieving employee embarrassed a conglomerate: Citigroup Case Spotlights Insider Threat Dangers. ]
More broadly, Clapper said, the insider threat efforts are just one piece of the intelligence community's information sharing efforts that aim to get analysts and others who need the information "the right data, any time, any place, usable by any authorized recipient, prevented only law – not technology – and protected by a comprehensive regimen of accountability." That, he said, represents "nirvana" and is "not an easy task."
The ever-increasing imperative for secure information sharing, when coupled with increased budget pressure, has also created another consequence, Clapper said. For the first time ever, he said, the intelligence community is working together on "an integrated IT enterprise across the major intelligence agencies." Although it is something that agencies have been discussing for some time, he said, recent budget pressures have helped push the idea toward reality.
Cloud computing likely will play a significant role in the evolution of an integrated IT infrastructure within the intelligence community. The cloud has a "huge potential for achieving savings and promoting integration," he said.
Heightened concern that users could inadvertently expose or leak--or purposely steal--an organization's sensitive data has spurred debate over the proper technology and training to protect the crown jewels. An Insider Threat Reality Check, a special retrospective of recent news coverage, takes a look at how organizations are handling the threat--and what users are really up to. (Free registration required.)