Analysis & Opinions - The Conversation

How Governments and Companies Can Prevent the Next Insider Attack

| Feb. 20, 2017

Now that they are in office, President Donald Trump and his team must protect the nation from many threats – including from insiders. Insider threats could take many forms, such as the next Edward Snowden, who leaked hundreds of thousands of secret documents to the press, or the next Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood mass killer.

Indeed, in today’s high-tech and hyperconnected world, threats from insiders go far beyond leakers and lone-wolf shooters. A single insider might be able to help adversaries steal nuclear material that terrorists could use to make a crude nuclear bomb, install malware that could compromise millions of accounts or sabotage a toxic chemical facility to cause thousands of deaths. How can we better protect against the enemy within, no matter what it is that needs to be protected?

President Obama became so alarmed at the government’s weak protections against insiders that he created a “National Insider Threat Policy.” It required each federal agency to put in place a set of basic safeguards against internal betrayals, such as software to detect mass downloading of secret documents and systems to encourage reporting of worrying behavior.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Bunn, Matthew and Scott D. Sagan.“How Governments and Companies Can Prevent the Next Insider Attack.” The Conversation, February 20, 2017.

The Authors

Scott Sagan