The NSA has had to question ever hiring brilliant people ever again after the Edward Snowden incident, according to one senior spook.
Whistleblower Edward Snowden accessed some seriously secret national security documents by spoofing some of the agency’s top spooks.
An NSA spokesperson said that every day the agency is learning how brilliant Snowden was and found more good reasons to only let dimmer people into its systems.
“You don’t hire brilliant people for jobs like this. You hire smart people. Brilliant people get you in trouble,” the agency told NBC
While Snowden was a Honolulu-based employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, his job gave him system administrator privileges on the NSA’s intranet, NSAnet.
Apparently the NSA still doesn’t know exactly what Snowden took, but a forensic investigation is starting to show how deep he got into their networks.
Part of the difficulty is that Snowden impersonated high-level officials on the network so well that it is difficult to tell if it was them, or him who was reading the agency’s most sensitive stuff.
Currently all they can do is look for discrepancies between the real world actions of an NSA employee and the online activities linked to that person’s computer user profile.
The NSA has found several cases where Snowden borrowed someone else’s user profile to access documents.
Snowden had “top secret” security clearance, but it is clear he needed higher levels of clearance.
He did this by using his admin rights to create and modify user profiles for employees and contractors. He also had the ability to access NSAnet using those user profiles, meaning he could impersonate other users in order to access files. He borrowed the identities of users with higher level security clearances to grab sensitive documents.
His admin rights also let him download files from his computer to an external storage device. This is how he got 20,000 documents put onto thumb drives before leaving Hawaii for Hong Kong on 20 May.