Obama Aims to Stop Federal Data Leaks

President Obama has issued an executive order aimed at better securing data stored by federal agencies.

Some industry watchers believe the move is a response to the whistle-blower organization WikiLeaks, which has published information provided by Bradley Manning, a relatively low-level Army intelligence officer who last year downloaded thousands of documents from secure networks and handed them over to WikiLeaks.

Obama's order focuses on creating committees and task forces to oversee access to classified networks and government data.

The order requires the heads of all federal agencies to appoint a senior official to oversee measures for controlling and monitoring access to classified information. The chosen officials will also establish an insider threat detection and prevention program, as well as supervise their respective agencies' compliance with new policies and standards governing access to and use of classified data.

A new Information Sharing and Safeguarding Steering Committee will coordinate new interagency policies and standards for safeguarding classified information. The committee will be co-chaired by an executive from the White House Office of Management and Budget and will include representatives from the State, Justice and Homeland Security departments, as well as officials from the CIA and other agencies.

Eddie Schwartz, chief security officer at RSA, EMC's security division, said that after the WikiLeaks incident, many agencies scrambled to implement safeguards. The result was a hodgepodge of standards and procedures to protect classified data, plus differences in the degrees of diligence devoted to such efforts.

"What the administration is saying is this is a matter for all of us," said Schwartz.

The order also calls for an interagency task force that will create governmentwide policies for detecting and mitigating threats.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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