For the second time in the past three years, a contractor for the consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton has been arrested for stealing highly sensitive information while working for the National Security Agency (NSA).
Harold T. Martin III has been charged with theft of government property and the unauthorized removal of classified documents. The FBI is currently investigating whether he did, in fact, steal and share secret computer code developed by the NSA to hack into networks of foreign governments.
According to authorities, the FBI found thousands of pages of classified documents and dozens of computers and other electronics at his home and in his vehicle. They also discovered sensitive information that had been posted on the Internet, including classified computer code.
During an interview with the FBI, Martin initially denied having taken anything. However, he later admitted to authorities that he knew he was not authorized to access the materials found at his home.
According to the complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore in August, “he knew what he had done was wrong and that he should not have done it because he knew it was unauthorized.”
Though the FBI has not ruled anything out, several officials have stated that the incident did not resemble a traditional espionage case and that Martin does not fit any of the usual profiles. At this time, investigators don’t seem to believe that Martin was politically motivated.
Law enforcement has mentioned the possibility that Martin had collected the documents with no plans to pass them along. One official described the suspect as a hoarder.
Regardless of his intentions, the incident has revealed a serious security vulnerability that needs to be addressed. Martin is just one of countless government officials who have been caught bringing classified files home with them.
Former CIA director John M. Deutch stored classified documents on his home computer. Alberto R. Gonzales kept documents about the nation’s wiretapping program in his home while he was attorney general.
For many companies, installing a surveillance camera system with remote access can reduce theft and losses by up to 80%. For the government, however, many more serious security measures must be put in place to protect such sensitive, important, and even dangerous information from reaching the wrong hands.