The U.S. Director of National Intelligence released the National Counterintelligence Strategy 2016 report (download), which has been revised and updated from a previous version to deal with insider threats and cyber warfare.
The 2015 foreign attack on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), in which 22 million government employees’ clearance data was stolen by a Chinese cyber espionage operation, has rattled the U.S. Intelligence Community. Intelligence personnel, along with their operations and assets, will likely be disrupted for decades after this theft of data.
Stored in the OPM databases were digital copies of a government form called the Security Form 86 (SF-86), which is filled out by government and military officials seeking a security clearance. In those forms, U.S. personnel record their work, financial and personal histories prior to a background check. Chinese intelligence now has access to over 20 million cleared U.S. personnel’s sensitive and personal information, making the work of identifying undercover agents abroad, as well as recruiting or exploiting U.S. intelligence professionals, much easier.
The NCIX2016 Strategy publicly recognizes that both offensive and defensive mechanisms must be in place to disrupt current and future foreign intelligence operations. While most of the Strategy contains mostly the Obama Administration’s watered down statements, it does appear the Intelligence Community recognizes the need to strengthen its Information Systems, as well as work with private industry and technology companies to bring much of the Intelligence Community’s systems into the 21st century.