Think back to five years ago. The year was 2009. Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. H1N1, or swine flu, was the major headline for weeks. All analog television broadcasting ended. Bernie Madoff was sentenced and convicted as the mastermind behind the largest Ponzi scheme ever. Now think back to 10 years ago; 2004. Facebook had just been created. Google was only a search engine. Nokia and Motorola were the most popular brands of cell phones. The average gas price was $1.85 per gallon. Where were you when all this was happening? Did you live in the same house? Did you have the same group of friends? Was your financial situation where it is now? With a secret clearance, this could have been the last time you were reinvestigated, and clearly things can change significantly in 5-10 years.

With that in mind, the federal government is looking into continuously monitoring employees and contractors with security clearances in hopes of preventing sensitive information from being leaked to the public, or even worse, our enemies1. About mid-March, the White House of Management and Budget issued a report “Suitability and Security Process Review” that is recommending the government speed up the initiative of continuously evaluating individuals with security clearances1. Just look at Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and Aaron Alexis; they all had a security clearance. If the federal government was using a continuous approach to background investigations these incidents may have been prevented.

The Suitability and Security Process review found that the existing re-investigation practices fail to re-evaluate cleared individuals accurately or mitigate risk appropriately1. The report further finds that the government tests of continuous evaluation assessed automated data checks from multiple sources like social media, credit checks, personnel records and self-reporting records that might reveal information that would prompt further investigation to allow the agencies to focus their attention to those that appear to have a higher risk1. Defense Department ran a pilot program of the continuous monitoring and found that “about one in five individuals had previously unreported derogatory information that had been identified since their last investigation”1 and another “three percent had serious derogatory information that resulted in revocation or suspension of their security clearance”1.

Security today is all about managing and assuming an acceptable level of risk. Security guidelines are put in place to help mitigate, not necessarily eliminate, risk. By implementing a continuous monitoring approach to reinvestigations, the federal government would be reducing the risk of another major incident. Current Defense and Intelligence Communitiy issues, like security clearance reform, are areas that NSTi instructors and staff members stay current on, bringing cutting edge topics back to the classroom. Throughout our training, we incorporate new and engaging ways to increase employee awareness around topics that security professionals should know. Sign up for one of our upcoming courses today at www.nstii.com.

Sources:

  1. http://www.govinfosecurity.com/reforming-security-clearance-process-a-6662
  2. http://www.clearancejobsblog.com/cleared-news/security-clearance-federal-investigative-standards-a-sign-of-the-times/