Booz Allen contractor Harold Martin could be the next Edward Snowden
A former contractor for the US’ National Security Agency (NSA) has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges alleging that he stole up to 50TB of classified data, the largest ever taken from a government.
Harold Martin was alleged to have used his position as a security contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp, the same company that employed whistle-blower Edward Snowden, to steal sensitive data from agencies from August 1996 onwards, according to Reuters.
According to the indictment, Martin’s security clearance gave him routine access to top-secret information.
“For as long as two decades, Harold Martin flagrantly abused the trust placed in him by the government,” said US Attorney Rod Rosenstein.
Among the data stolen by Martin, he was also said to have pilfered an NSA user guide to deploying an intelligence gathering tool, something that would make the classified data particularity valuable as it could be used by other nations to work out how to defend against cyber spying activities in foreign espionage operations.
Martin is also alleged to have data from the US Cyber Command, CIA and the National Reconnaissance Office.
No information has been released yet on what Martin planned to do with the trove of data he had acquired, or how he managed to do so for 20 years without rapid detection. But he does face 20 criminal counts, with each being punishable by up to 10 years in prison, potentially giving him a total of 200 years incarceration if he is found guilty of all counts, all of which indicated the severity of his data theft.
While the federal court, NSA and other affected US government agencies have yet to release a statement on the jury’s indictment or more on Martin’s activities, the data theft indicates that the US could have a problem with bringing in external contractors who may not be as attached to the dogma of loyalty and service that perhaps internal employees adopt.
Questions are also raised on how the US government keeps seeing such major data leaks, and following the large leak of intelligence data by form US army private Chelsea Handler, prompts queries as to whether the US’ intelligence agencies carry out the correct vetting of the people it allows to access its top-secret information.