Learn from the NSA and Snowden
Snowden alone had access to these files, and he was never supervised while viewing them. Thus, he had ample time to copy any file necessary.
The U.S. government claims that what he has done can be classified as espionage. What will happen to Snowden has yet to be decided, but there are some things that we can learn from him – and from the government – when it comes to security.
A New Security Measure
When the NSA discovered that Snowden gained his information internally, changes were rapidly made. Now, all employees must go through a two-person check process before accessing any file. The logic here is that it's a lot harder to remove files if someone else is watching.
The government has learned the lesson that one person can't be trusted with sensitive information. This is a lesson that you can directly apply to your business. If you have granted only one person access to files that can be considered sensitive, change that access right away. That's the lesson we can learn from NSA mistakes. We can learn from Snowden too, though.
Where Morality Meets Legality
Snowden felt that it was his moral obligation to let the public know about the NSA's activities. What he might not have realized, though, was that removing internal items is a crime. Okay, he probably did know that it was a crime, but most people do not. Let's apply this to everyday business for a minute.
Let's say that you work at a company that has lots of sensitive files. If you take any of those files – even if it's just for the sake of homework or for any other reason – without clearance (in written form), you are acting illegally. That means that you can't take any work home with you without approval. It also means that you can log into your work website from home in some cases.
Learn from the NSA and Snowden: Knowing Your Legal Limits
How can you tell if you are about to act illegally? It's hard in some situations, but you can find out site guidelines by asking your superior. Is it okay to access a work website from home? Can you photocopy, print, or scan any work files? What about website security? What if you take something that belongs on a company site and share it with others? Is that illegal? In some cases, it can be.
Internet law is still forming in some areas, but there are many laws already set in place, and each company has a set of rules that pertain to company property. While you may not be aiming to blow the whistle on your company, be careful about what files you do access. For your sake, and for the sake of any company, make sure that there's a two-person file check process in place.