recommended reading

Snowden's Security Breach Could Cost the U.S. Billions, Top General Says

Two passengers eat at a cafe with a TV screen with a news program showing a report on Edward Snowden, at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport.

Two passengers eat at a cafe with a TV screen with a news program showing a report on Edward Snowden, at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. // Sergei Grits/AP file photo

Edward Snowden is best known for exposing government surveillance, but "the vast majority" of the roughly 1.7 million documents Snowden took addressed top-secret military capabilities, operations, and tactics, according to the nation's highest-ranking military officer.

The cost of changing those tactics and coping with the security breach could total billions of dollars, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey told the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

Defense Department officials, along with officials from other agencies, are still investigating the documents Snowden took and determining how to blunt the risks they pose to U.S. security, Dempsey said.

"The mitigation task force will need to function for about two years—that's the magnitude of this challenge," Dempsey said. "I suspect it could cost billions of dollars to overcome the loss of security that has been imposed on us."

Dempsey's comments add to a chorus of congressional critics, such as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, who have decried the potential costs of reversing the security damage after Snowden's leaks. Concerned lawmakers have also suggested that Russia, where Snowden remains under temporary asylum, may have gained access to his document trove.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

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

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


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