In a follow up to a previous article highlighting how Chinese hackers attack U.S. networks, another story has hit the news headlines describing how former background investigation contractor USIS failed to detect a security breach by Chinese hackers who penetrated USIS information system firewalls for several months. The hackers gained access to personally identifiable information (PII) on security clearance applications before being found out. Some of the information that was compromised included the security records of 25,000 Department of Homeland Security employees.
The Atlantic reports (courtesy of Registan blogger Joshua Foust) of a recent job posting for agricultural specialists, security clearance required. It points to the dramatic increase in recent years for the need for individuals in a variety of occupations to hold security clearances – from executive assistants and janitorial crews working in cleared facilities to, in this case, farmers deploying to help native populations in combat zones. As the Atlantic notes there’s good reason for individuals deploying to locations like Iraq and Afghanistan to have clearances – sensitive information is on the line and individuals working alongside deployed troops and in secure facilities will most definitely have unique access.
A story on 10News in San Diego highlighted a 32 year-old man who held a security clearance and was working at a Defense Contractor. He was let go from his job after a random drug test, which was preceded by his disclosure to a co-worker that he had a medical marijuana prescription for his depression.
Under federal law (Section 3002 of 50 U.S.C. 435b) a current user of illegal drugs can not be granted a security clearance. Using illegal drugs a few months prior to submitting a clearance application form can be considered current use.
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