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FOSE: Federal government works to detect and prevent insider threats

Could Wikileaks ever happen again? Many federal agencies and departments are currently worried about insider threats – disgruntled employees leaking sensitive information to the general public.

Last October, President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13587, which directs agency and department heads to take responsibility for protecting and properly sharing classified information. Among other initiatives, this requires all agencies and departments to have an insider threat detection program.

Currently, officials from the federal government, the private sector and academia are working together to come up with standards agencies and departments can use in order to be able to better detect possible insider threats.

The details of this venture were discussed during a panel discussion at this year’s FOSE Conference & Expo.

Moderator Gordon Snow of the FBI was joined by panelists Deanna Caputo of MITRE, John Swift of ODNI and Diana Braun of the FBI.

Swift explained that this new directive is needed mainly because the speed of technology has increased exponentially over the years. He explained that, although there have always been disgruntled employees and malcontents within organizations, the amount of information that can be accessed and exploited is greater than ever before. The 21st century technological environment, he added, makes insider threats much more dangerous.

Bots and other monitoring software can only do so much, however. Caputo explained that behavioral science must also be used in conjunction with various technologies. Thus, members of the behavioral science community have come together to create a working group to help develop standards for agencies and departments. She stressed that proactive analysis will never be able to detect insider threats with 100 percent accuracy, but it can go a long way when it comes to preventing an employee from doing something he or she might regret in the future.

Braun also stressed that people and technological systems are both equally important when it comes to preventing insider threats from becoming front page headlines. This is why agencies with insider threat detection systems already in place, such as the Department of Defense, are sharing best practices. This wide, inter-agency participation is necessary as the government moves forward. Braun added that input from the private sector and academia is being considered, as well.

Snow said the national policy is currently in draft status and should be implemented by October of this year.

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