Leader, team recognized for exceptional insider threat capabilities

  • Published
  • By Lori A. Bultman
  • 25th Air Force
The 25th Air Force’s Insider Threat Hub, led by Jason Barron, was recognized last week for their dedication to developing top-notch Air Force intelligence community insider threat capabilities by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

Their hard work and due diligence, under Barron’s leadership, allowed them to create a capability so defined that recently they have been designated as the Insider Threat Interim Hub for the Air Force while a permanent Air Force-wide Insider Threat Hub is established.

Insider threats came to the forefront in recent years because of multiple breaches in security from within organizations.

“On Nov. 5, 2009, Nidal Hasan carried out the Fort Hood shooting, and on May 27, 2010, Bradley E. Manning was arrested for espionage,” Barron said. “Then, on May 20, 2013, Edward Snowden, a contractor employee working on a National Security Agency contract, arrived in Hong Kong with stolen U.S. secrets.”

Because of these types of breaches, the ability to detect and deter insider threats became a national requirement.

In 2012, a White House memorandum on Insider Threat Policy Minimum Standards clarified Executive Order 13587, the order that established the Insider Threat Program requirements. The memorandum made insider threat programs a requirement for all departments and agencies.

Barron credits the ability to pull together the tight-knit insider threat team at the 25th Air Force, and his ability to lead them in creating exceptional capabilities, to the experience he has gained as an Air Force service member, contractor and civilian.

At 20, Barron joined the Air Force and found the military offered the direction, focus and discipline he needed to succeed.

Critical thinking skills are also important, he said, crediting the eight years he spent as an intelligence analyst for his ability to understand the logical connections between different sets of data, an important skill in insider threat indicator analysis.

“When I joined the military, I would have never thought I would be doing this right now,” Barron said. “Great things can be achieved by anyone who has the initiative, direction and focus.”

He said every skill he learned in the military, and in college, came into play when he was tasked with creating the 25th Air Force’s Insider Threat Interim Hub.

“I was told to go figure it out,” he said of the assignment, and figure it out, he did.

Barron studied everything he could find on the subject. Then, he networked with others in the field, as well as those in academia, as he looked at what different organizations were doing to detect and deter insider threats.

“I looked at what other programs, military and civilian, were doing, what was being used, and I leveraged from well-established programs and capabilities,” he said.

During his tenure as the leader of the 25th Air Force Interim Hub, Barron presented briefings on the capabilities of the program to many high-level leaders involved in national security issues, to include Gen. Mark Welch, former chief of staff of the Air Force; Dr. John Zangardi, Defense Department acting chief information officer,; and Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command. All praised the capabilities and offered their full support to the mission, Barron said.

Now, five years into the program, Barron and his commander are proud that the 25th Air Force I-Hub is the go-to example for creating insider threat capabilities for the Air Force and others.

“I am very proud of Jason and the entire team,” said Col. Michael Cote, 625th Air Communications Squadron commander. “With very little guidance, they have collaborated across the Department of Defense and other agencies to build a program that meets national-level mandates and prevents insider threats. This capability has been recognized and adopted by secretary of the Air Force staff as the baseline for an expanded Air Force-wide program. Jason and his team are a shining example of what can be accomplished when we empower the innovation and initiative of our personnel.”