Feds Ordered to Report James Bond Wannabes, Night Owls and Other Suspicious Colleagues

The Insider Threat Program was mandated by a 2011 executive order following Pfc. Bradley Manning’s alleged leaks to anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. The Insider Threat Program was mandated by a 2011 executive order following Pfc. Bradley Manning’s alleged leaks to anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. AP

In an effort to prevent leaks and other security violations, the Obama administration has asked federal employees to report suspicious behavior among their coworkers, according to a McClatchy story published Wednesday.

Under the Insider Threat Program -- which was mandated by a 2011 executive order following Pfc. Bradley Manning’s alleged leaks to anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks -- federal employees and contractors have been directed to watch their colleagues for unusual lifestyle behaviors and attitudes. Red flags include financial troubles, odd hours, unexplained travel and divorce, according to the McClatchy report, which was based on documents and interviews.

The Obama administration wants to train federal employees and contractors in spotting these indicators, which it aims to use to predict whether workers intend to “do harm to the United States,” the news service said.

The McClatchy report cited a 2008 National Research Council publication on detecting terrorists that found no consensus on whether behavior and physiological monitoring techniques are “ready for use.”

Still, the insider threat initiative requires nearly 5 million federal workers and contractors with clearances to be trained to spot behavior indicators and allows departments to extend the training to their entire workforces, McClatchy said.

Employees’ online activities also factor into threat assessments under the program and information gleaned from monitoring online behavior “could be used against them in criminal, security, or administrative proceedings,” administration documents said, according to McCatchy. Suspicious online behavior likely includes accessing information that isn't necessary to an employee's job and downloading material to a thumb drive.

Agencies have some discretion in deciding what behaviors to include on their lists of threat indicators, McClatchy said. An FBI threat detection guide advises managers to watch for “a desire to help the ‘underdog,’” a “James Bond Wannabe,” and a “divided loyalty” -- meaning allegiance to another company or country, according to the news service.

Although the program aims to protect national security, Obama’s 2011 order applies to nearly every agency, including those not directly related to national security, such as the Peace Corps and the Education Department, McClatchy said.

McClatchy asked numerous agencies to comment on the the program. The agencies sent “virtually identical email statements directing inquiries to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, declined to comment or didn’t respond,” the news service said. 

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.