recommended reading

NSA: Employee Privacy Laws Hamper Leak Detection

Privacy mandates that prevent the government from monitoring the personal data of National Security Agency employees should not be altered to stop insider threats, despite leaks of Top Secret information, a senior NSA official said on Thursday.

Governmentwide, from the Food and Drug Administration to the Transportation Security Administration, department heads have been cracking down on rogue personnel by installing various forms of spyware. Pfc. Bradley Manning’s alleged disclosure of classified media to anti-secrets website WikiLeaks in 2010 accelerated the development of these technologies.

“This is a case where I wouldn't advocate a change of laws,” NSA Technical Director Boyd Livingston said. “It's very difficult to do insider threat monitoring -- there are a whole other set of federal laws having to do with personal identification information, PII, and your Social Security [number], that prohibit various monitoring." He was speaking at a breakfast organized by Nextgov and the Intelligence National Security Alliance.

This spring, former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor Edward Snowden, while posted to Honolulu for NSA cyber analysis, purportedly furnished data on domestic surveillance activities to the press.

“When you become a government employee, and you walk through the door, various rights change," Boyd said. But basically there are various “protections for the individual and that's what we're supposed to be defending."

A Host Based Security System that monitors removable data devices such as CDs and thumb drives, has been activated Defensewide to track unauthorized network activities. But NSA, which is part of the department, might not have been hooked up during Snowden’s tenure. A former NSA information security official said the system was not on agency networks when he left in the summer of 2012.

Microsoft officials, recently battered for aiding NSA data collection, say privacy technologies that compartmentalize certain information, in fact, can be used to counter internal risks. 

"It's in the research that we're doing on the protection of PII, the protection of individual systems and data, that we see a lot of advance actually that can be used against the insider threat," said Lewis Shepherd, director of Microsoft’s Institute for Advanced Technology in Governments.  "They're really not operating at cross-purposes. They're really [working] hand in hand." He also attended Thursday’s event.

At Microsoft's Silicon Valley research and development laboratory, the software giant has combined a privacy research team -- "a very large team actually,” with a cyber science team to synchronize the two aims, Shepherd said.

Microsoft's privacy policies came under attack following disclosures, by Snowden, that the company complied with NSA orders to help the agency circumvent encryption on users' Skype web chats.  

Threatwatch Alert

Network intrusion / Software vulnerability

Hundreds of Thousands of Job Seekers' Information May Have Been Compromised by Hackers

See threatwatch report

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.