TECHNOLOGY: Pentagon officials say they’re plugging Snowden Leaks

July 19, 2013 at 1:57 am Leave a comment

Cleaning up after Snowden

Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter answers questions at Aspen Security Forum (Defense Dept. photo)

Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter answers questions at the Aspen Security Forum (Defense Dept. photo)

ASPEN, Colorado – Two top Defense Department leaders say the National Security Agency (NSA) is taking several steps to secure its data following the embarrassing revelation of two U.S. secret surveilance programs by a rogue NSA contractor.

Both Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA director and head of U.S. Cyber Command, told the Aspen Security Forum Thursday (today) that the intelligence gathering agency would be changing how it stored sensitive data and who would be allowed access to it.

Carter told the annual national and homeland security gathering in Aspen, Colo. that the release of classified information by the contractor, Edward Snowden, was a failure to protect the military’s own cyber networks. “I’ll tell you right now, the damage itself was very significant,” he added. Asked if the information Snowden had transported out of the country was “a lot,” the Alexander replied “Yes.” He said NSA had “concrete proff that terrorist groups are taking action, making changes” in the wake of the information revealed by the Snowden leaks.

Carter called for measures to remove what he calleed “the root causes” of the Snowden failure: too much classified information stored in one place and a single employee with unsupervised access to that data. He suggested a system similar to that used in handling nuclear weapons – a “two-man rule” – where no single person can access a nuclear bomb.

Alexander said changes like that and closed and locked server rooms that can only be accessed by two people working together “makes our job more difficult.” He urged moving to a joint information environment where data can be encrypted, so if stolen, it would be useless to thieves and spies.

“We also have to ensure that people who need information to do their job have access to that information,” he said, adding that both needs have to be balanced and since the Snowden leak occurred on NSA’s watch the agency would oversee the changes for both the Defense Department and the larger federal intelligence community.

4GWAR is in Aspen, Colorado this week, covering the Aspen Security Forum.

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Entry filed under: Lessons Learned, National Security and Defense, News Developments, Technology, Unconventional Warfare, Washington, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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