Insider Threat Awareness - The inside story

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  • By OSI Public Affairs

Each September, the Office of Special Investigations (OSI), the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, the National Insider Threat Task Force, and partners across the federal government participate in National Insider Threat Awareness Month.

Recent incidents involving trusted insiders have reminded all Department of the Air Force personnel and supporting contractors that we must enforce and enhance safeguards aimed at protecting national security information, DoD facilities, networks, and personnel against insider threats. Any person with authorized access to personnel, facilities, information, equipment, networks, or systems, is an insider.

“Just as OSI is responsible for pursuing external threats to the Department of the Air Force, we are also on the lookout for threats from within our Force,” wrote OSI Vice Commander, Col. Shan B. Nuckols, in his message to the command. “National Insider Threat Awareness Month presents us with the opportunity to stay vigilant in order to detect, deter, and mitigate risk of possible insider threats.” 

Over the years, the insider threat has evolved.  Previously thought of as a spy for a foreign state, insider threats now incorporate a broader spectrum of adversaries, to include not only those perpetrating targeted violence, but also loyal employees’ accidentally spilling sensitive information.

Targeted violence is violence, where an insider selects an individual, a group, an organization, a cause, or a system to attack or exploit. Often, consequences go beyond the direct damage, and have significant effects on second- and third-order matters within the workplace and the daily lives of personnel.

Our technological capabilities often aid us in combatting the insider threat, but human error, process inefficiencies, and the ever-evolving threat landscape all contribute to vulnerabilities.     

All Airmen have the ability to deter, detect, and mitigate insider threats. Most insider threats can be spotted through deliberate identification of behaviors, which often elicit concerns in family members, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. These behaviors may be recognized by those around the threat, before the threat engages in negative events. When an individual identifies a concerning behavior, it is imperative that information is shared with personnel or organizations who have the capacity or authority to act.

OSI is responsible for pursuing threats to our Air Force from the outside, but as insider threat practitioners, OSI is also on the lookout for threats from within the force.

OSI, in partnership with the Air Force Insider Threat Hub, seeks to help the Department of the Air Force get ahead of insider threats and assist insiders before they engage in a negative event. 

Within OSI, concerns about insider threat activity should be reported to its Insider Threat representatives.

Links to OSI’s anonymous tip line are on the OSI social media platforms:

Or, submit tips via text: Send AFOSI to 847411.

“It is imperative for us to remain proactive in our effort to detect, deter and mitigate Insider Threats,” Col. Nuckols emphasized to the command. “Not only will our proactivity possibly save lives, but we have the potential to divert potential perpetrators from committing crimes.”