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Defense Worker Arrested After Accessing Unauthorized Data

Employee ignored automated security warnings, law enforcement says

A federal government employee is under arrest this week after venturing into a classified system he was not authorized to access.

According to an affidavit (PDF) filed on Friday in Virginia and posted in a Wired magazine article yesterday, Brian Keith Montgomery used the password he had obtained legitimately for another classified message to access data about a terrorism investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Army.

Montgomery works for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, a spy agency that collects aerial and satellite data. According to the affidavit, Montgomery was working on a covert operation that was unrelated to the terrorism investigation, and although he had some privileges to classified data, he was not authorized to access the terrorism system.

The affidavit says Montgomery ignored automated security warnings that told him not to proceed, even though he had a working password. Montgomery says he saw the warnings, but didn't read them and didn't know the system was being monitored by the FBI.

Montgomery was on the system for two hours on April 9, and accessed the system again on April 14, according to the affidavit.

Although there is no indication that Montgomery did anything with the data, he is accused of endangering the investigation and causing "harm" to the FBI and the Army. He is charged with a single count of gaining unauthorized access to a protected computer.

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Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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