Obama issues 'WikiLeaks Order' to protect classified nets

Responding to the leak of classified data last year to WikiLeaks, President Barack Obama has issued an executive order calling for hardening classified networks while enabling information sharing and focusing on potential insider threats.

“Our nation's security requires classified information to be shared immediately with authorized users around the world but also requires sophisticated and vigilant means to ensure it is shared securely,” the order, which is being called the "WikiLeaks Order," states.

It establishes a senior oversight committee to establish policy and assess performance in the executive branch and expands Defense Department and National Security Agency authority over national security networks to all classified networks. It also sets up an interagency task force to focus on insider threats.

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Security policies developed under the order will apply to all agencies and personnel handling classified information, including contractors. The secretary of defense and the NSA director will be the top agents for ensuring security of classified networks. They will form the Executive Agent for Safeguarding Classified Information on Computer Networks and will exercise their existing authorities over national security networks.

The Insider Threat Task Force will be co-chaired by the attorney general and the director of national intelligence. It will develop governmentwide policy for detecting and deterring insider threats and oversee its implementation.

Agencies must designate a senior official to oversee sharing and safeguarding of classified information, and a steering committee will be established to oversee activities. The committee will be co-chaired by representatives from the Office of Management and Budget and the national security staff. It will include members selected by the State, Defense, Justice, Energy and Homeland Security departments, as well as by the director of national intelligence, the CIA, and the National Archives and Records Administration. The committee will report annually on progress in handling classified information and develop programs for improvement.

OMB and NARA’s Information Security Oversight Office will issue policies based on the committee’s recommendations.

A Classified Information Sharing and Safeguarding Office will provide expert, full-time support to the committee. Staff members will be detailed from the committee's member agencies.


About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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