Pentagon Fighting WikiLeaks with Technology

The Pentagon is looking at a system that would flag suspicious access to data, similar to the alerts by credit cards companies designed to prevent fraudulent charges.

The military is very concerned about the WikiLeaks scandal and is taking active measures to stem the tide of classified documents being stolen and released to the press.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn told a group of reporters late Tuesday that one of the measures being considered were checks that would flag suspicious access to data, similar to the alerts by credit cards companies designed to prevent fraudulent charges.

“If somebody is doing something that doesn’t seem appropriate for where they are – downloading 100,000 documents and they’re out in some obscure corner of the country – why are they doing that? And you go ask,” Mr. Lynn said.

The deputy secretary, on a brief tour of Iraq and Afghanistan, said the Pentagon was trying to reach a balance between giving field officers broad access to useful information and maintaining security of the database. Front-line military units have long complained that although they provide intelligence, they don’t get enough back to allow them to form a broad picture.

“We’ve tried to change the way we’ve operated so that the intelligence is available to the war fighter when he or she needs it and we don’t want to change that. That’s an important element in the successes we’ve had that said we probably have to think about how do we better protect the data so we don’t have this kind of massive loss,” he said.

It’s been my fear since the first of the WikiLeaks hit the papers that the Pentagon would make the opposite decision, stovepiping the information in order to protect it.  I’m quite pleased to be wrong on this one.

FILED UNDER: Intelligence, National Security, Quick Takes,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.