So it is becoming an epidemic: Youngsters around the world, who have access to highly classified documents, share them.
In Israel, we had a well publicized case of Anat Kam, now 23, an army secretary who had decided, on her own accord, to release classified documents to a reporter. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/09/world/middleeast/09israel.html
And, as AB loves to say, what happens in Israel will always happens elsewhere. So the US now has an information “spy” of it’s own, one specialist Bradley Manning, 22, who released to secret documents on Wikileaks. See http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/06/07/wikileaks_arrest/.
Both were young, both were not “spies” in the sense that they were not “operatives” of a state, but were still at an age where “correctness of action” and “ideology” and “duty” are mixed up. IMHO, these immature individuals were unable to identify the severity of their action. Sure, they intentionally released data they thought warrented public scrutiny; they wanted to promote transparency since they were brought up on the notion that sunlight disinfects; and they believed that their democracy was strong. They thought they were “doing the right thing”.
They were unable, however, to fathom the risk that their actions would create. What does a secretary know about international diplomacy and politics? What does she know about combat operations? Can she anticipate how many deaths would she directly cause by the disclosure of the data? Having sat through some complex classification exercises, I can safely say that she had no clue. As for Bradley Manning, the fact that he boasted of his “accomplishments” to fellow hackers and over Facebook reveals his lack of understanding of the severity of what he did.
So we expect youngsters to handle confidential data. Data they are severly ill equipped to fully grasp and understand the consequences of a data exposure. We assume it is their sense of duty: It worked in the past. But now these youngsters have laptops, smartphones, USB keys and other devices.
Now governance controls are important. Neither of these occurences were detected via some sort of data governance scheme, but some time after the leaks had occured. Really, shame on our security forces!
However, even governance controls, while important, are not enough. It is now even more important for HR to step up to the plate and seperate the mature, responsible adults (even at age 18) from the rest. The easy access to distribution mechanisms make silly leaks possible, and likely. Immature individuals, like mssrs Anat Kam and Bradley Manning should never have been allowed near sensitive data.