Snowden Stole Secret Data With ... Thumb Drive
LA Times: But it's still not clear why he had access to such sensitive data
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 13, 2013 3:39 PM CDT
A supporter holds a picture of Edward Snowden outside the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong Thursday.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

(Newser) Edward Snowden didn't need any high-tech gadgetry to make off with the NSA's surveillance secrets—all it took was a humble thumb drive, reports the Los Angeles Times. Authorities have determined that the former contractor used the portable device to smuggle out his classified data, and they “know how many documents he downloaded and what server he took them from,” a source tells the newspaper.

What they still don't know is why Snowden had access to such high-level documents, including an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and another from President Obama on setting up cybertargets. Why would the NSA allow employees to have thumb drives around classified stuff? Well, the LAT explains that the devices are supposed to be banned, but enforcement sounds a little loosey-goosey. “There are people who need to use a thumb drive and they have special permission," says one former NSA official. "But when you use one, people always look at you funny.”

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Jun 15, 2013 2:24 PM CDT
Where I work right now USB ports are disabled, USB sticks are prohibited, and I've been in semiconductor fabs where the USB ports were disabled, the CD rom drives were disabled and the industrial machines were not connected to the internet. Getting something onto a machine required a security audit and having a security person get it on/off for you. But.... the security people could steal the secrets because someone had to have access. As long as there are people who require access, you will have people who can steal. A company down the street from mine prohibits cell phones in the building because they don't want cameras inside. You can use a company issued cell-phone that has no camera. But.... if you sneak a cell phone or camera in, you are risking your job, but they wouldn't really know.
Jun 14, 2013 12:59 PM CDT
He is a national hero in China and most likely is now living a very lavish life in one of the emperor's many mansions. But China doesn't need hero's to give them thumb drives of information from US secret sources. They send in common Chinese students, interns,and citizens to do that every day. A Chinese citizen is required by party law to spy on the USA while living or studying there. This is law and not an option. Before a Chinese citizen is issued a passport, they must agree and sign that they will return reports on anything they learn while in the USA. If they get a job or an internship at a US company, they must actively learn and then send anything that benefits the party. If its an energy company, that report includes financial and production data. If there is proprietary exploration software, then they must obtain a copy and send it to China party HQ in Beijing. If there is nuclear or space based technology, that must be forwarded so China can use it in their own defense and military industries. Because of this happening, China is caught up to the USA in most technologies. It was very cheap to get as all they had to do was recruit millions of Snowdens to do the work for free.
Jun 14, 2013 12:30 AM CDT
When working at Los Alamos National Labs USB sticks were forbidden unless they were approved by security. Plugging in a USB sent alerts to the security team because of possible embedded software by the usually Chinese manufacturers.