CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (CN) — A top national security official on Thursday urged U.S. companies to be alert to internal security in the wake of the arrest of a government contractor who's accused of stealing classified information.
John Carlin, assistant attorney general for national security, spoke at the Cambridge Cyber Summit at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology.
Harold Thomas Martin III, 51, of Glen Burnie, Md. has been charged with theft of government property and unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials.
Martin worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, the government contractor that employed Edward Snowden. Hamilton was arrested on Aug. 27, though the criminal complaint against him was not unsealed until Oct. 5.
Carlin dismissed suggestions that Martin might have done as much damage as Snowden.
He said a different type of information was involved, and Martin has been charged only with taking it — he has not been charged under the Espionage Act, as Snowed was.
Carlin said he could not speak about what Martin's intentions.
"According to the complaint, what he's been charged with is taking the information and bringing it home. We don't address the other issue," Carlin said. "I think in the days or weeks to come you'll see continued investigation and maybe through the court more information will come out."
Carlin said Martin's alleged theft shows again that companies focused on cyber security often overlook their own employees.
"For businesses watching today, the threat of insiders is real," Carlin said. "You can have amazing defenses to protect your intellectual property against those who are trying to obtain them from outside of the company's walls, but you forget sometimes to have a program where you are watching those who you trust. The abuse of that trust is one of the most serious threats a company can face."
Federal authorities arrested Martin after search warrants executed at his home allowed investigators to find hard-copy documents and digital information stored on devices and removable digital media. A large percentage of them were marked as U.S. property and are said to have contained highly classified information.
According to the Department of Justice, investigators found six classified documents obtained from sensitive intelligence and produced by a government agency in 2014 through sensitive government sources, methods and capabilities, which are critical to a wide variety of national security issues.
The government says the disclosure of the documents would reveal those sensitive sources, methods and capabilities.
If convicted, Martin faces a maximum sentence of 1 year in prison for unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials and 10 years for theft of government property.
After his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on Aug. 29, Martin remains in custody.
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