Feds Charge DoD Analyst with System Compromise

Curiosity Led to Alleged Illicit Activity
Feds Charge DoD Analyst with System Compromise
A Defense Department analyst surrendered to authorities Tuesday after being charged by the government with compromising a computer system used by the Army and FBI as part of a terrorism investigation.

Brian Keith Montgomery, an analyst for a special access program at the Defense Department's National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency - which collects, analyzes and distributes geospatial intelligence to support national security - reviewed a classified message that provided significant detail to a classified operation without authorization on April 8 and April 14, according to an affidavit filed last week by a Defense Department investigator. Montgomery, charged with a single count, was released on his own recognizance pending a preliminary hearing scheduled for Friday, a spokesman for federal prosecutors in eastern Virginia said.

According to the affidavit filed by Special Agent Dexter Wells of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Montgomery – who has top secret clearance – knowingly accessed the restricted message despite a warning that clearly stated that only authorized participants of that operation could access the system with a password provided in another classified message.

Defense investigators interviewed Montgomery, who admitted he accessed the message, saying he hadn't notice the warning not to do so. "It was not until I was called on the carpet, that I went back and read the warning notice in the message traffic," the affidavit quotes Montgomery telling investigators on July 21.

But under further questioning on July 29, Montgomery admitted he accessed the program because of his curiosity. According to the affidavit, "Ultimately, however, at the conclusion of the interview, Montgomery admitted to accessing the program without authorization and recognized his actions could cause problems for the federal investigation. Montgomery explained that he was very interested in the information within the program and acknowledged that it was not related to the performance of his duties."

The affidavit did not detail the damage caused by the unauthorized access.

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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