Security: Lessons from the NSA Debacle

OK, a little more on the NSA controversy, from a purely practical rather than political perspective.

Now that we know the identity of the person who leaked the Top Secret info I noted last time, a couple of thoughts come to mind. First, it's absolutely amazing to me that anyone with that level of clearance would take such an action. Such simply isn't done. He will wind up in prison for the rest of his life, and I'm all in favor of that outcome. Oops - more politics. Sorry.

Next, why is NSA using contractors for operational support? I can see hiring contractors to design and build large specialized systems (disclaimer: I have been such a contractor myself in the past), but once these go live, anyone outside the operator should be banned from the site. Period.

Next, getting said Top Secret clearance isn't easy; in fact, it's gotten much more difficult over the years. They dig into everything - and I mean that literally. And yet, they trusted someone with a questionable past who ultimately demonstrated his complete lack of regard for the rules and the safety of others (note that Bradley Manning, who leaked info to WikiLeaks, had a much lower clearance, and he was in the Army). The lesson here is that, while trust is essential, it does break down from time to time. This is why the penalties for violating such trust should be so severe. I still recommend, BTW, background checks for people in the private sector who have access to sensitive organizational data no matter what the organization. This policy and process obviously aren't perfect, but I'm sure they help in the vast majority of cases.

Finally, how did Mr. Snowden get the classified data out of the facility? It should be impossible for this to happen, and yet it did. Somebody at NSA got some splainin' to do.

OK, enough on all of this. Next time: the comparatively boring world of 802.11ac.

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