The White House issued an executive order to put systems in place to protect classified government documents from a future WikiLeaks-style data breach.
President Obama wants tighter information security
measures to prevent another WikiLeaks-style breach.
Obama signed an executive order outlining data security
measures and rules for government agencies to follow to prevent further data
leaks by insiders, the White House said Oct. 7. The executive order defines
basic security measures to protect data as well as mandates the creation of
committees to oversee the effort.
Last November, anti-secrecy Website WikiLeaks started
posting hundreds of thousands of United States diplomatic cables online,
severely embarrassing the United States government. Shortly after the leak, the
government ordered agencies to restrict the use of "removable media"
such as CDs and USB flash drives on classified systems.
are only as strong as our weakest link and this is a shared risk with shared
responsibility," the White House said.
orders reinforce the rule that employees can't download private data to removable
hard drives, require agencies to track what government employees are doing when
accessing sensitive information, and define how information should be encrypted
national security team at the White House formed a committee and spent the past
seven months reviewing and defining guidelines that would reduce the risk of a
future breach. The newly signed executive order would coordinate implementing
broad security measures across all agencies of the federal government,
including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency and
the Department of Defense.
strategic imperative of our efforts has been to ensure that we provide adequate
protections to our classified information while at the same time sharing the
information with all who reasonably need it to do their jobs," according
to a White House fact sheet on the executive order.
The order included the creation of a senior steering
committee that will oversee the safeguarding and sharing of information. While chaired by senior representatives of
the Office of Management and Budget and the National Security Staff, the
technical safeguards will be created by the secretary of defense and the
director of the National Security Agency.
The intra-agency Insider Threat Task Force will establish
policies and evaluate efforts to detect and deal with government employees and
military personnel who may be at risk of leaking classified information. The
attorney general and the director of national intelligence will lead the task
The executive order also required the steering committee to submit a
report to the president within 90 days on how the new measures are working or
failing at protecting classified data. The committee will also issue follow-up
reports at least once a year to keep track of successes and failures.
U.S. Army Sgt. Bradley Manning is suspected of copying
secret documents from classified databases onto a CD masquerading as a Lady
Gaga music CD. Security experts noted that a low-ranking intelligence analyst
such as Manning should not have had access to these sensitive documents on the
military's classified network in the first place.
WikiLeaks initially posted the documents with potentially
vulnerable names redacted, but dumped the full archive of 251,000 diplomatic
cables online last month when reports emerged that the documents were available
on file-sharing sites.