TSA plans training to address insider threat
Airport security threats that come from within the ranks of the Transportation Security Administration remain unaccounted for in agency training, the Homeland Security Department office of inspector general warns in a report (.pdf) dated Sept. 25.
The OIG says TSA's workforce may not currently even know how to recognize insider threats, or how to respond to them.
TSA says it will probably train its workforce in the future on how to do so through an online system. For now, the agency has a telephone hotline and email address where people can report possible insider threats.
Agency officials also told the OIG it plans to put posters and brochures with insider threat information in its headquarters and field locations.
Insider threats can include releasing security information, corruption, impersonation, theft, spying, smuggling and actual acts of terrorism.
The group within TSA in charge of the training includes personnel from TSA's office of chief counsel, office of security operations and office of information technology.
Until TSA has agencywide training, policies and procedures to address the insider threat, there are two steps it can take now to at least protect sensitive information, the OIG says--though TSA rejected both ideas.
The OIG says TSA should disable USB ports on computers for employees who don't need them for work. But TSA said that wouldn't be feasible because it relies on USB devices for its operations.
Still, the OIG says it disagrees and believes it would be feasible, though much of its explanation was redacted.
TSA might also restrict the size of files attached to emails, but the agency told the OIG that doing so wouldn't stop insiders from transmitting sensitive information. They could send smaller email attachments, print out information or copy it by hand.
Regardless, the OIG maintains that limits on email attachments could still be effective to some extent. Plus, most of TSA's workforce is made up of security officers who have little need to send large files over email, so a size limit wouldn't get in the way of their work.
- download the report, OIG-12-120 (.pdf)
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