Identify an Insider Spy - Insider Threat

Monday, April 7, 2008

One of the best methods for spotting an insider is to simply pay attention. Exploring the Mind of the Spy is an excellent paper written for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service by Dr. Mike Gelles.

Dr. Gelles points out three criteria that usually have to be met for a previously trustworthy and loyal employee to commit a serious crime.

  1. The presence of a personality or character weakness that manifests itself in antisocial tendencies or in narcissism that can lead to malicious behavior.

    1. Antisocial tendencies may be spotted by looking for individuals who reject societal rules and standards, persons who lack feelings of guilt or remorse when they do something wrong. In short, they lack the values that inhibit most people from malicious, illegal acts. They tend to be manipulative, self-serving, and seek immediate gratification. Finally, they have a limited attachment to anything or anybody, thus diminishing their ability to develop a sense of loyalty.

    2. Narcissists perceive that their supervisor undervalues them, and they are often found defending themselves. Their actions may seem rebellious, passive-aggressive, or vindictive.

    3. Note that antisocial or narcissistic behavior does not mean that the individual will necessarily commit a security offense.

  2. The presence of a personal, financial, or career crisis that exposes the individual to suffering and extreme stress. The behavior related to this stress is often observable in the workplace.

  3. The absence of appropriate assistance in a crisis. Others may fail to recognize the person's problems, or they may recognize them and refuse to become involved. Intervention can be useful, but if nobody tries to help, the individual's behavior will spin out of control.

Dr. Gelles states that most people have at least one and perhaps many character or personality weaknesses. But weakness alone doesn't mean that the person is a security risk. The entire person must be evaluated. Positive characteristics such as loyalty, reliability, and trustworthiness may well be an effective counterbalance to the weaknesses.

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