Daily Management Review

Charges of Stealing Secret US Data Slapped ion NSA Contractor


Charges of Stealing Secret US Data Slapped ion NSA Contractor
The FBI is investigating possible links to a recent leak of secret hacking tools used to break into the computers of adversaries such as Russia and China, and arrested a National Security Agency contractor on charges of stealing highly classified information, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.
According to a criminal complaint, Harold Thomas Martin, 51, was taken into custody in Maryland in August. Booz Allen Hamilton, the consulting firm that employed Edward Snowden when he revealed the vast collection of metadata by the NSA in 2013, is the company where Martin worked, a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the media.
The Obama administration’s efforts to recover from Snowden’s damaging disclosures about the U.S. government’s surveillance and cyber spying activities could be further set back by allegations about a second insider leaking top-secret NSA information.
Booz Allen immediately fired the employee and offered full cooperation to the FBI when the company "learned of the arrest of one of its employees by the FBI," the company said in a statement.
Following the report, Booz Allen's stock closed down 3.8 percent at $30.31 a share.
A group calling itself Shadow Brokers dumped some of the NSA’s most sophisticated hacking tools were dumped onto public websites in the same month Martin was arrested.
According to the complaint, which was unsealed on Wednesday, theft of classified government material was the charge that the U.S. Justice Department slapped against Martin who had top secret national security clearance. Martin's alleged motive was not specified in the complaint and U.S. officials declined to say.
"I don't think this is a Snowden-type situation", NSA General Counsel Glenn Gerstell told Reuters while adding that the agency was still assessing damage from the data theft. Snowden has said that he deliberately exposed the scope of U.S. government surveillance to force changes. He has been granted asylum in Russia.
Whether Martin stole and disclosed highly classified computer "source code" developed to hack into the networks of Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and other countries is being look at by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, The New York Times reported.
While one U.S. government source told Reuters that the question of whether Martin was involved with the Shadow Brokers was still being probed while another said that investigators were not fully convinced about the issue.
Since Snowden stole and released a massive trove of documents that exposed the reach of the NSA's surveillance programs at home and abroad, this was the latest disclosure of details of cyber spying by the U.S. government.
There is growing concern over the cyberhacking of federal agencies and American political parties and the disclosure comes amidst such an environment.
Documents found in Martin's possession contained sensitive intelligence, the complaint said.
"These six documents were produced through sensitive government sources, methods, and capabilities, which are critical to a wide variety of national security issues," the complaint said. But it did not elaborate.
Martin's lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.