WikiLeaks incident shouldn't chill info-sharing, ex-CIA chief says
Easy access to data is vital to security, says retired general Michael Hayden
Computerworld - The recent publication of classified military documents on the whistleblower site WikLeaks should not be allowed to chill information-sharing that's been going on within the military and intelligence communities, the former director of the CIA said Tuesday.
In an interview, retired Gen. Michael Hayden, who led both the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA), expressed concern over the potential for knee-jerk restrictions on data-sharing in response to the incident.
"Senior leadership in the country will have to guard against over-reaction," Hayden cautioned. "Clearly, we need to be careful. We have to pay more attention to security," he said.
Wikileaks last week posted more than 90,000 military and intelligence documents about the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Bradley Manning, an Army intelligence analyst who has already been accused of supplying WikiLeaks with a video allegedly showing a deadly U.S Apache helicopter attack in Iraq, is the prime suspect in the leak of the Afghanistan war documents.
Their release prompted widespread criticism from those who believe that the move needlessly put critical U.S. intelligence and military assets in Afghanistan in harm's way. Since the documents were published, critics have called for WikiLeaks' Australian-born founder, Julian Assange, to be held accountable for his actions.
Others meanwhile have rallied to WikiLeaks' side and argued that its actions are a legitimate exercise of free speech.
According to Hayden, the incident highlights the risks associated with the information-sharing that has been going on within the military for some time. Networks such as the U.S. Department of Defense's Secret Internet Protocol Router Network or SIPRNet, which Manning is alleged to have accessed, are designed to pass along important information as quickly and efficiently as possible.
"You can't be hierarchical. Information has to be accessible at the node and be available and retrievable in a way as to allow our nodes to be as agile as our enemy," Hayden said. "We are an information-based military."
Over the years, there has been a substantial emphasis on pushing "as much information as possible" into SIPRNet and on sharing and providing access to that information he said. "Anybody who was doing this knew there was a dark side to this," Hayden said, referring to the potential for insider abuse. "This is like a ship which removes all its water-tight doors. Once you get a leak, that's pretty much it."
The way forward is not to curtail information-sharing, but to explore the use of better technology controls for monitoring access and use of the data, he said. "It's about applying the right technologies" and revisiting the clearance policies for providing access to data, he said.
Robert Rodriguez, a former Secret Service special agent and founder of the Security Innovation Network, said the WikiLeaks incident has the potential to put the skids on information-sharing inside the intelligence communities. The incident could result in a policy that will "create more stovepipes instead of more open information-sharing," he said,
"The intelligence community has always been beat up for not sharing information and for being segmented and stovepiped," he said. But when you start to open more access and doors, you put information and people more at risk," he said. "What WikiLeaks did was very harmful" and will likely lead to new dictates on how information is shared.
"The worst thing that can happen is an over-reactive policy that locks down and completely stovepipes the intelligence community's efforts," Rodriguez said. "It would reverse the success and advancements of information-sharing."
The key is to have the right controls, said James Lewis, director and senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "I think they will have to revisit the question of access to information. There are real benefits, but there will be some pressure to push back on easier information-sharing and there will also be the question of whether there are technological fixes that could reduce risk."
Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan, or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.
- 18 Hot IT Certifications for 2014
- CIOs Opting for IT Contractors Over Hiring Full-Time Staff
- 12 Best Free iOS 7 Holiday Shopping Apps
- For CMOs Big Data Can Lead to Big Profits
- Slideshow: 5 ways to lock down your mobile device
- Slideshow: 10 mistakes companies make after a data breach
- How to rob a bank: A social engineering walk through
- Which smartphone is the most secure?
If you like your iPhone, you can keep your iPhone. Period.
President Obama has revealed that he's not permitted to carry an iPhone. It's too insecure for the job, he says. Instead, he's stuck with a BlackBerry. Well, someone's got to have one still. However, it turns out that the Pentagon has also outlawed non-BlackBerry smartphones. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers joke that 2006 called and they want their smartphones back.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Mitigating DDoS Attacks with F5 Technology
- This document examines various DDoS attack methods and the application of specific ADC technologies to block attacks in the DDoS threat spectrum while...
- The DDoS Threat Spectrum
- Bolstered by favorable economics, today's global botnets are using distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks to target firewalls, web services, and applications, often simultaneously.
- Defending Against Denial of Service Attacks
- By utilizing end-user interviews, this whitepaper explores a deeper understanding of DDoS defense plans and reveals the knowledge gaps around the Denial of...
- Strategic Solutions for Government IT
- This paper outlines why F5 is the optimum partner to help achieve the levels of security, performance and availability that are vital to...
Top Considerations for Moving to a Cloud Delivery Model for ITSM
Find out whether SaaS-based ITSM is right for you
- Software-as-a-service is more than just a cloud-based delivery model-it's a new approach to service that lets companies optimize utilization of in-house IT resources... All Government IT White Papers
- Pre-Engineered solutions from VCE Simplify Core Infrastructure Implementation In this video, the CTO of Purdue Pharma, a privately held pharmaceutical company explains how Purdue transformed their data center infrastructure with VCE.
- Integrated Infrastructure: Simplify Operations, Speed Deployments and Reduce Costs George Weiss, Gartner Vice President and Analyst, and Praveen Akkiraju, CEO of VCE, provide practical information regarding the various aspects of Integrated Infrastructures...
- Video: 5 Secrets To Scaling Enterprise Apps Watch this video to learn how to successfully scale enterprise apps>>
- Collaboration 2013: Where Mobility Meets Connectivity Mobility and collaboration are quickly converging and users are demanding more capabilities. It's no longer enough to enable file sharing. This Webcast dives...
- Modernizing SAP environments with minimum risk - a path to Big Data Hear from top IDC analyst, Richard Villars, about the path you can start taking now to enable your organization to get the benefits...
- All Government IT Webcasts
Does your organization offer extensive benefits, cool perks, competitive salaries, opportunities for training and advancement? Then get it recognized!
Nominate your company or another deserving organization for Computerworld's 2014 Best Places to Work in IT list now through Dec. 12, 2013.