Awareness key to exposing insider threats

Those experiencing a life crisis are most vulnerable to irrational behavior or acting out maliciously, antiterrorism awareness experts note.

FORT LEE, Va. – Antiterrorism awareness experts categorize them as one of the most dangerous types of threats to government workers, military personnel and family members under the right circumstances.

Who are they?

Believe it or not, it’s members of the DOD team.

Much as the name implies, the insider threat is a contractor, DA Civilian, Soldier or other community member who uses their authorized access, knowingly or unknowingly, to do harm to the security of the United States. This can include damage through espionage, acts of or support to terrorism, unauthorized disclosure of national security information, or loss or degradation of Army resources or capabilities.

The range of insider threat crimes include the following:

• Espionage

• Unauthorized disclosure

• National security violations

• Workplace violence

• Sabotage

• Fraud

• Unwitting actions that increase vulnerabilities

• Intentional disruption of workplace activity

Most individuals do not set out to become an insider threat. A combination of factors including personal predisposition and life stressors in the home or on the job put people on the critical pathway to damaging behavior. Early identification and reporting of risk indicators improves the chances of a rapid and appropriate response through the force protection office’s Insider Threat Program to mitigate risk and help those in need before it’s too late.

Most personnel engaging in insider threat behavior demonstrated one of these three Potential Risk Indicators – ignorance, complacency and/or malice. Steered by their attitude or led astray by their lack of understanding, the individuals most-dangerously begin to act out in the following ways:

• Encouraging disruptive behavior or disobedience to lawful orders.

• Expressing hatred or intolerance of American society or culture.

• Expressing sympathy for organizations that promote violence.

• Expressing extreme anxiety about or refusing a deployment.

• Associating with or expressing loyalty or support for terrorists.

• Browsing websites that promote or advocate violence against the U.S., or distributing terrorist literature or propaganda via the Internet.

• Expressing outrage against U.S. military operations.

• Advocating violence to achieve political, religious or ideological goals.

• Providing financial or other materiel support to a terrorist organization.

• Seeking spiritual sanctioning for or voicing an obligation to engage in violence in support of a radical or extremist organization or cause.

• Membership in a violent, extremist or terrorist group, or adopting an ideology that advocates violence, extremism or radicalism.

• Purchasing bomb-making materials or obtaining information on bomb construction and use.

• Engaging in paramilitary training with radical or extremist organizations, either at home or abroad.

• Having ties to known or suspected international terrorists, extremists, radicals, or their supporters.

• Being repeatedly unwilling to comply with rules and regulations, or to cooperate with information security requirements, or appearing disgruntled and violent.

The potential of the insider threat to cause serious damage to national security underscores the necessity for a focused and effective Threat and Reporting Program, per AR 381-12.

“We spend a lot of time and resources focusing on outside threats, but it is important that we take a look inward and evaluate threats that may reside within our units and organizations,” said the Fort Lee antiterrorism officer

Army leaders can help by coordinating and synchronizing insider threat training and plans of action within existing organizational and command protection forums (e.g., Protection Executive Committee). Organizations should maintain compliance with Army information assurance, security and threat awareness training requirements. Security and AT-designated personnel are responsible for knowing the Army policies and documents for incident reporting – e.g. AR 380-67 and DA Form 5248-R, AR 190-45 and DA Form 4833, and AR 25-2 – and assessing insider threat response and mitigation policies through command inspection programs.

What does each Team Lee workforce member need to do?

First, attend annual TARP briefings to understand the actions and behaviors associated with insider threat behaviors. Second, pay attention to fellow military members, contractors and DA Civilians in your workplace. Look for behaviors associated with insider threat activity. As a general rule, one or two such behaviors do not necessarily indicate that an individual is on the path to being an inside threat – life happens and we all have to deal with it – but certainly, three or more suspicious behavior patterns should be a red flag that something bad might be going on. Report observations to your supervisor.

Behaviors that indicate possible malicious activity include:

• A pattern of security violations

• Working hours inconsistent with job assignment

• Foreign contacts

• Frequent foreign travel

• Unexplained affluence

• Threats of physical violence or harm

Those experiencing a life crisis are most vulnerable to irrational behavior or acting out maliciously. Examples of a life crisis include financial failure, romantic rejection, divorce, drug or alcohol dependence, failure to advance at work as expected, anger at perceived gossip, loss of position or being sanctioned by supervisors, bullying at school or at work, or any other personal or work-related “setback.”

Obviously, not everyone experiencing these hardships is going to go over the proverbial deep end. As team members, we can be there to support fellow workers if they ask for help. At the same time, though, it is each of our responsibilities to look for the previously listed risk indicators and report our concerns to supervisors and/or appropriate security personnel.

Those who fail to report information that would help identify an insider threat may be subject to judicial and/or administrative action, pursuant to applicable law and regulations. Article 92 of the UCMJ addressed this requirement, as does criminal statutes that apply to government civilian employees.

So, while you know that everyday people – especially Soldiers and their families – have to deal with significant personal challenges every day, you must protect U.S. government equipment and intellectual property, yourself and others from the threat of co-workers who are unable to cope with life’s problems and may seek release of their feelings and attitudes with violence or other criminal behavior.