US racing to block cyber leaks
Washington - The top US intelligence official said it will take roughly five years to put in place new measures to stop another WikiLeaks-style exposure of classified information.
Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper said officials are working to "tag" information to be able to track back to which intelligence staffers shared it, which prosecutors could have used to help prove allegations that Bradley Manning copied thousands of war-related records that were leaked to the website WikiLeaks.
Speaking at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Clapper said the changes also will include finding ways to separate the data, such as word that a terrorist wants to hijack a flight, from how that information was collected, such as by a satellite intercept, so data can be shared among agencies without exposing their sources.
Pentagon prosecutors say the material allegedly shared by Manning with WikiLeaks exposed locals on the ground in the warzones, who were co-operating with US troops, which left them in danger of retaliation.
Clapper conceded that had damaged the trust needed to encourage sharing within different branches of the intelligence community. Stamping data with a sort of electric signature or watermark will show intelligence staff where something came from and whom it can be shared with, which should help rebuild that trust, he said.
"If you are able to tag and label data, so you can break sources and methods from substance of information... and do it on an automated basis, which we can't do very well right now, you can promote information sharing and security," Clapper said.
Some critics of intelligence reform say the changes are taking too long, but Clapper said the measures are part of a painstaking, major overhaul that also will streamline computer technology across the intelligence agencies, meant to eliminate redundancies and help trim costs from the intelligence budget.