Jack Teixeira’s February 2022 Logs. Why wasn’t the insider threat prevented or detected?

Over on EmptyWheel, natsec journalist and blogger Marcy Wheeler writes, “In a motion to keep Jack Teixiera jailed, the government provided more details about what an unstable nut they gave access to the US’ most sensitive secrets.”

Read Marcy’s post.

Reading the logs from the perspective of someone who has blogged about insider threats and data breaches but who is not a national security expert, one wonders how the government either missed, underestimated, or just willfully ignored so many red flags. Over on JustSecurity, a number of experts commented on the case two weeks ago. One was  Erik Dahl, associate professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School and faculty member of the Center for Homeland Defense and Security. He wrote:

From what we know so far, this appears to be a case of a knucklehead with a clearance, and such a person can be much more difficult to detect and track than traditional leakers, who are typically motivated by factors such as ideology, politics, or money.

Counterintelligence efforts can detect internal threats such as leakers at three different stages. First, before the person is granted a clearance and access to secrets, the security investigation and clearance approval process is designed to detect potential danger signs from someone’s past behavior and statements. Second, while the person is working in a position of trust — whether as a member of the military, a civilian employee, or a contractor — there are systems such as periodic clearance reviews designed to spot warning signs that might develop. And third, security systems are in place to detect loss of classified material and other internal threats as soon as possible, in order to contain the threat and identify the persons responsible.

All of these security systems are designed to detect traditional threats, such as insiders who voice extremist or violent views or who communicate with known terrorist groups or foreign security services. And all three of these systems appeared to have failed in this case, in which the offender appears to have been a low-level insider with no ideological or political axe to grind, and who was not motivated by traditional factors such money.

So how will lessons be learned and adopted from this incident?

Read more at JustSecurity.


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