The nation’s intelligence chief says it will take five years to complete major improvements in the system that allows U.S. agencies to share secret information, after the WikiLeaks breach revealed embarrassing weaknesses in the system.
WikiLeaks was “a terrible event for us that has caused us to make changes,” Director of National IntelligenceJames Clapper said in a speech on information sharing at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.
“Over the next five years, we’ll make some serious and noticeable changes,” he added.
Mr. Clapper said the changes would focus on monitoring and auditing downloads of data from intelligence agency computer systems; tagging documents so that it is easier to tell what information they contain and who should have access to them; and ensuring that intelligence staff who log on to computer systems are securely identified.
Although Mr. Clapper did not say so, information technology specialists say that audit and monitoring measures — common in the private sector — would have enabled military investigators to quickly determine who had downloaded the 250,000 secret State Department cables and other classified material that were published by WikiLeaks in 2010.
Army Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, a low-level intelligence analyst, was arrested in 2010, and is likely to face court martial for the WikiLeaks breach. He was arrested after allegedly confessing to being the source of the WikiLeaks material in an online chat with a former hacker.
Mr. Clapper said it’s not easy to implement changes in a way that ensures everyone who needs information sees it, but still protects it from spies or hackers.
He added that agencies would “have to do some investing” to implement the changes, but did not specify how much.
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