Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Bradley Manning: WikiLeaker, Part 3

Ease of Access

Bradley Manning
Bradley Manning

If there was one good thing that came out of Manning's arrest, it was a national discussion of the extent of access to Secret and Top Secret and Confidential documents. In the days when Ellsberg had leaked the Pentagon Papers, Top Secret document access was severely restricted; and usually there were very few copies in paper form only. To see them, the documents had to be physically handed from one person to the next. The digitization of such documents meant that they could be duplicated and downloaded; encryption was only a barrier in the sense that it kept hackers and other computer-savvy parties from opening it immediately. In short, the world of Top Secret government document-handlers now faced all of the same problems that the music, film and television industries had discovered the hard way: People will steal information; they will make copies of it, and they will distribute it.

Manning allegedly said as much in his chats with Lamo:

"It was a massive data spillage facilitated by numerous factors. Perfect example of how not to do INFOSEC," he said. "Listened and lip-synced to Lady Gaga's 'Telephone' while exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in American history. Weak servers, weak logging, weak physical security, weak counter-intelligence, inattentive signal analysis...a perfect storm."

Indeed, it was.


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