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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Nov. 3, 2023

Guarding Against the Unseen: The U.S. Coast Guard's Insider Threat Program

By Jason Allred, MyCG Web Editor

In a world where security threats can come from anywhere, including within our organization, the U.S. Coast Guard has taken a proactive stance to safeguard its personnel, facilities, information, equipment, and networks. The Coast Guard Insider Threat Program (CGITP), is a multifaceted initiative designed to prevent, detect, mitigate, and respond to insider threats. As the saying goes, "Trust but verify," and in an era of increasing cybersecurity and national security concerns, it's more than a motto to admire but rather a call to action. 

Response to Changing Times 

Established on June 5, 2015, the CGITP was born out of necessity. The program seeks to address the growing concern of insider threats — individuals within an organization who can inadvertently or intentionally compromise the security of the United States. We've seen names like Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen, and Bradley Manning associated with espionage, and more recently, the likes of Edward Snowden. These individuals served as stark reminders of how trust can be misplaced and security needs are compromised from the inside. 

The Scope of Insider Threats 

The CGITP defines insider threats as the danger that someone with authorized access — whether personnel, facilities, information, equipment, networks, or systems — may misuse their privileges, intentionally or unintentionally. Regarding national security, this misuse can occur at various levels of threat and encompass espionage, acts of terrorism, unauthorized disclosure of critical information, or the loss or degradation of vital resources and capabilities. 

The need to address this multi-dimensional threat is evident, and the CGITP serves as a comprehensive approach. It combines the expertise of various domains within the Coast Guard, including counterintelligence, security, information assurance and technology, human resources, law enforcement, cybersecurity, and legal to create a safeguarded environment. 

Within this overarching strategy to safeguard against insider threats, the Coast Guard designates September as "Insider Threat Month." This annual event places a special focus on enhancing the workforce's awareness of insider threats and reinforcing the importance of proactive vigilance. 

Insider Threat Month is a time when the Coast Guard intensifies its educational efforts. It serves as a reminder of the continuous need to stay vigilant and proactive in detecting and mitigating potential threats from within. The value of this awareness month lies in its ability to educate and remind Coast Guard personnel that security is a collective responsibility and an ongoing commitment. 

The Role of CGITP 

The CGITP doesn't operate in isolation. Instead, it thrives on collaboration. Influences comprising Coast Guard Counterintelligence Service (CGCIS), Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS), Coast Guard Cyber Command (CGCYBER), and other key stakeholders, is at the heart of this collaborative effort. 

The CGITP mission is to establish focused and deliberative collaboration among its members. It's responsible for the development of policies and procedures to address insider threat issues, implementing an education and awareness program, and devising a plan that outlines the necessary steps to detect, prevent, mitigate, and respond to insider threat issues. This group's concerted efforts provide the Coast Guard with the framework to protect against potential threats from within. 

Training and Reporting 

One of the biggest hurdles for the CGITP are raising awareness among Coast Guard personnel. The program mandates that all members complete initial employment or entry-on-duty, as well as annual insider threat awareness training. It's designed to ensure that all personnel are informed about the nuances of insider threats, recognizing potential indicators, and the appropriate response mechanisms. 

But what do you do if you have a suspected threat? The CGITP supports multiple channels for reporting: 

Chain of Command: Report your concerns through your chain of command, ensuring that the information reaches the appropriate authorities. 

Command Security Officers: Reach out to your command's security officers, who are well-equipped to handle security-related concerns. 

Insider Threat Program: Inform your local Insider Threat representatives of the details of your event or individual. 

CG Investigative Service and Counterintelligence Service: These specialized units within the USCG can handle and investigate security-related concerns efficiently. 

Work-Life and Employee Assistance Program: Seek guidance and support from these programs, which can offer assistance and resources for various work-related challenges. 

Chaplains: The USCG chaplains can also be approached for guidance and support in difficult situations. 

As the world becomes increasingly complex, so do the threats that the United States faces. The Coast Guard Insider Threat Program is an essential defense mechanism against these hidden dangers. By promoting collaboration, vigilance, and a culture of awareness, the program aims to prevent, detect, mitigate, and respond to insider threats effectively. 

You play a crucial role in upholding the values and security standards of the USCG with your vigilance and proactive reporting. Together, we can protect and serve while fostering a secure environment. For questions or additional information please contact the Coast Guard Insider Threat Program 


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