Nation & World News

Snowden Reportedly Used Others’ Login Info To Get Secret Data

By Bill Chappell on November 8th, 2013

Some of the classified documents leaked by Edward Snowden were acquired using the credentials of other NSA workers — including people who had higher security clearance than the former spy agency contractor, according to Reuters. As many as 25 people may have been duped, the news agency says, citing people close to the inquiry.

Some of the classified documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden were acquired using the credentials of other NSA workers — including people who had higher security clearance than Snowden, according to Reuters. As many as 25 people may have been duped, the news agency says, citing people close to the inquiry.

Snowden reportedly gained his the National Security Agency colleagues’ trust — and access to documents and data beyond his security clearance — by saying he needed to know their security information as part of his job as a computer systems administrator.

“A handful of agency employees who gave their login details to Snowden were identified, questioned and removed from their assignments,” Reuters reports, citing “a source close to several U.S. government investigations into the damage caused by the leaks.”

It isn’t clear whether employees who provided the information to Snowden were fired or reassigned.

The security lapse was centered on the NSA’s regional operations center in Hawaii, where Snowden had been working before he began an international flight from U.S. authorities that has now taken him to Russia.

Two factors may have aided Snowden’s exploitation of the cracks in security at the NSA. The first is the agency’s delay of installing the most current anti-leak software in its systems at the Hawaii station; the second is the sense of inclusion and security that can lead people to drop their guard when they believe their co-workers have been vetted.

“In the classified world, there is a sharp distinction between insiders and outsiders. If you’ve been cleared and especially if you’ve been polygraphed, you’re an insider and you are presumed to be trustworthy,” secrecy expert Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists tells Reuters.

“What agencies are having a hard time grappling with is the insider threat, the idea that the guy in the next cubicle may not be reliable,” he said.

Another factor in Snowden’s ability to use his status as a contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton to access sensitive information was that his job sometimes required such actions.

“His job was to do what he did. He wasn’t a ghost. He wasn’t that clever. He did his job. He was observed [moving documents], but it was his job,” a government official told NPR’s Tom Gjelten back in September.

As Tom reported, Snowden may also have been aided by the inclusion of USB ports on some NSA computers, which would allow a thumb drive to be inserted that could then store information.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, left, with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen.  Martin Dempsey during a Pentagon briefing on Thursday. Hagel said Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria posed a threat "beyond anything we've seen."

Islamic State ‘Beyond Anything We’ve Seen,’ Hagel Says

The secretary of defense says the extremists are well-funded and organized and that he expects them to “regroup and stage an offensive” despite U.S. airstrikes.


U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro accepted the ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge." Soon after, the State Department warned that participation by high-profile diplomats was a violation of internal policy.

U.S. Diplomatic Cable Puts Chill On ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The State Department lauded the fundraising phenomenon, but said the participation of high-profile diplomats, such as ambassadors, violates internal policy.


Thailand's newly appointed Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha gestures in a traditional greeting during his to a unit of the Queen's Guard outside of Bangkok on Thursday.

Thailand’s Parliament Hands Prime Minister Post To Coup Leader

Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led a May putsch against the country’s democratically elected government, was approved unanimously by a hand-picked legislature.


U.S. Won’t Rule Out Attack In Syria To Hit Islamic State

American aircraft have carried out more strikes against the Islamic State, after the extremist group beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley. The attacks come despite threats to kill other hostages.


New York Times correspondent Matthew Rosenberg stands at his desk at the paper's office in Kabul on Wednesday. Afghanistan gave Rosenberg 24 hours to leave the country.

Afghanistan Expels ‘Times’ Reporter Over Article About Potential Coup

New York Times correspondent Matthew Rosenberg was forced to leave Afghanistan after officials called one of his recent stories a threat to national security.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments