Public Perception of Security
So the US Consulate in Jerusalem sold a file cabinet full of secret documents. What I found interesting about the story is the perception of the finder:
Hundreds of files — with social security numbers, bank account numbers and other sensitive U.S. government information — were found in a filing cabinet purchased from the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem through a local auction.
“We couldn’t believe what we found,” said Paula, who purchased the cabinets and asked that her last name not be published. “We thought of calling the American consulate right away, and then we thought, you know they’ll just hide it and say, ‘Oh, we made a mistake.'” (“U.S. Consulate Mistakenly sells secret files in Jerusalem,” Fox News)
Transparency is a powerful idea. There’s little risk in disclosing this incident, except to the career of the person who sold the cabinet. Security professionals on both side know that these things happen. If we talked about the incidents we could assess their frequency and see if there are cost effective ways to prevent these things. I expect that there are, but no one wants to add a layer of bureaucracy for a threat that they can’t really assess. There are too many threats and too many ways to address them.