Doing it wrong: Company wants us to write about ‘preventing the next Snowden’

September 5, 2013

(The Guardian)

Barton Gellman has become one of The Washington Post's best-known reporters thanks to a series of scoops from documents supplied by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The Snowden revelations have been a bonanza for some companies offering security and privacy services. A public relations professional has been helping one such company pitch a product that can help companies lock down their cloud computing infrastructure. They sent an e-mail to Gellman with the subject line "Preventing the next Snowden: New technology helps stop insider threat."

Gellman may not have been the best choice of reporter for this story pitch. He passed it to me, with permission to post it.

Date: Wed, 4 Sep 2013 12:38:49
To: Bart Gellman
Subject: Preventing the next Snowden: New technology helps stop insider threat

Hi Bart,

I read your recent article on the U.S. government's black budget - great piece!

While employee background checks and investigations are important, so is putting in place the right security technologies to prevent contractors and others with mal intent from accessing data and systems they shouldn't be.

I know the article touched on that a bit, but I wanted to offer a discussion with HyTrust, the cloud security automation company, for a deeper talk on what government agencies should be doing differently to prevent Snowden-type incidents, and how cloud computing (now more prevalent than its physical predecessor) is making the insider risk even worse.

The company is getting ready to announce a new version of its product with capabilities centered around this that alerts when someone attempts to access something they're not allowed to, and can even block such actions. I'm including the draft release below for more details there.

Are you available for a call this week or next?

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