recommended reading

75 Percent of Pentagon Contractors Adjusted Security After Snowden Leaks

Protestors demonstrated against the NSA program in October in Washington.

Protestors demonstrated against the NSA program in October in Washington. // Rena Schild/Shutterstock.com

Leaks of national secrets by former federal contractor Edward Snowden drove 75 percent of U.S. defense company executives to adjust information security procedures, mostly by increasing employee training and going on high alert for deviant behavior, according to a new study.

The poll of information technology managers was conducted last month by market research firm Opinion Matters on behalf of consultancy ThreatTrack.

Most of the 100 contractors surveyed are taking a manual approach to the crackdown on data seepage, rather than using automated mechanisms to block personnel from disclosing information, according to the study’s data points.

Among businesses with an IT budget of more than $10 million, 44 percent are restricting user access. Of the firms storing or accessing confidential information for the government, 34 percent have scaled back system administrator privileges. Sixty percent of the companies in those same two categories are subjecting employees to more cyber awareness education.

"The Snowden affair has had a profound impact on how defense contractors hire and train employees who handle sensitive information,” the study’s authors report.

Other network security analysts have suggested that, within the government, federal executives should rely on both human and machine oversight to prevent inside information from escaping.

Agencies should use “fine-grained access controls," Eric Chiu, president of HyTrust, a firm that helps organizations protect data, said in October. For example, they could implement a two-person procedure to prevent system administrators from accessing key information without another authorized individual present, "as well as role-based monitoring to detect what your administrators are doing versus what they should be doing,” he said.

After Snowden’s escapades, about 80 percent of contractors with limited finances reviewed or re-evaluated employee data access privileges. "The Snowden leaks have had a stronger impact on companies with smaller IT security budgets, while contractors with budgets of $1 million or more reported fewer changes,” the ThreatTrack study's authors found. “This is likely because companies with bigger budgets, and therefore more resources, may already feel they have the tools and policies they need, notwithstanding their fears about malware volume and complexity.”

About 63 percent of the firms sampled indicated they held security clearances, with 18 percent holding “top secret” clearances like the credentials Snowden obtained. 

(Image via Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com)

Threatwatch Alert

Stolen credentials

Hackers Steal $31M from Russian Central Bank

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:

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    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
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

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