DAF counters insider threat risks

  • Published
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Every September, all departments and federal agencies team up to raise awareness amongst the workforce to promote reporting of insider threat risks. The goal is to get employees to lookout for and report risky behavior that could be indicative of potential harm to themselves, others or the organization.

Led by the National Counterintelligence and Security Center and the Department of Defense, National Insider Threat Awareness Month, or NITAM, has become institutionalized within the DoD as a reoccurring effort to reenergize the force and remind everyone affiliated with DoD to do their part in keeping our installations, information, resources and personnel safe.

This year’s theme is focused on ‘Critical Thinking in Digital Spaces.’ According to the NITAM website, “Critical thinking helps individuals become less susceptible to various types of risks, to include social engineering, solicitation by adversaries, (foreign and domestic) and information designed to malign” and “COVID, isolation, and working from home has made it more difficult to discern between true coworkers and phishing attempts for proprietary or sensitive information. It has also led to more interactions on social media which makes individuals more vulnerable to deception.”

By emphasizing ‘Critical Thinking in Digital Spaces,’ the services can help prevent those with authorized access from causing harm to the DoD. We must all do our part, not just during the month of September, but every month.

John Massey, director of the Department of the Air Force Counter-Insider Threat Hub, expressed that every month is Insider Threat Awareness Month. “Within every unit, installation, and organization across the DAF, we each have the essential responsibility of ensuring behaviors of concern and information of those at risk are reported in a timely manner. Only then can mitigation actions be taken to reduce risk to national security information and the organization itself. For us, every month is Insider Threat Awareness Month.”

Massey leads the DAF’s centralized risk analysis center, known as the Counter-Insider Threat Hub, tasked with supporting leaders across the United States Air and Space Forces in detecting, deterring, and mitigating risks that insiders pose. His team, based in San Antonio, Texas, works tirelessly to gather, compile, and inform commanders and civilian leaders of risks within their command. Yet, the DAF Counter-Insider Threat Program needs help from the Total Force.

The most crucial way that all members of the Total Force can help this program is by reporting concerning behaviors and potential risk indicators. Report of concerning behaviors and potential risk indicators should be submitted to your security managers or assistants, information protection offices, commanders, or the Office of Special Investigationsanonymous Tip Line, to ensure it is reported to the Counter-Insider Threat Hub in a timely manner. When reported, all efforts are exhausted to assist “at risk” Airmen and Guardians to ensure they get the help they need.

“The DAF is committed to creating a safe and secure environment, it is my top priority,” said Anthony Reardon, administrative assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force and senior official of the Counter-Insider Threat mission for the DAF. “We want to see every Airman and Guardian thrive and continue to be a positive asset and contributor to their service and our nation. We all face adversities in our life, our goal is to support those at risk before it’s too late and thwart negative events. We all have a role in mitigating insider threat risks and countering that threat.”

The NITAM website has more information and resources including posters, videos, job aids, case studies and more. The workforce can also register and attend the Virtual Counter-Insider Threat Social and Behavioral Science Summit, a 30-day virtual education, awareness, and training event that is held every year during NITAM. The event provides informative webcasts, new research efforts, and in-depth looks at Counter-Insider Threat professionals’ efforts to detect, mitigate and prevent concerning behavior.