(Cyberwar.news) CIA Director John Brennan addressed for the first time the hack of his personal email account, describing himself as “outraged” over an incident that demonstrates how challenging it is in the Information Age to protect intelligence and national security.
“I was certainly outraged by it,” he said Oct. 27 during an intelligence conference at George Washington University, when CNN asked about his reaction to learning of the hack.
“I certainly was concerned about what people might try to do with that information,” Brennan added. “I was also dismayed at how some of the media handled it, and the inferences that were in there.”
Earlier reports noted that a self-professed high school student claimed to have hacked Brennan’s email the previous week. The document leak website WikiLeaks then published some of the contents of Brennan’s emails a few days later.
None of the emails published contained any classified information or appeared to come from his tenure at the CIA, but they did contain sensitive information including Social Security Numbers and the numbers on passports held by his family members.
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The CIA chief bristled at the inference that the hack meant he somehow neglected his job or was not fit to hold it.
“Although we are government officials, we also have family and friends, bills to pay, things to do in our daily lives, and the way you communicate these days is through the Internet,” Brennan said. “The implication of some of the reporting was that I was doing something inappropriate or wrong or a violation of my security responsibilities — which was certainly not the case.”
He further explained that the entire incident is a case study in the power of those with ill intentions in a cyber-connected world – one of the primary focuses of his agency.
“What it does is to underscore just how vulnerable people are to those who want to cause harm,” he said. “We really have to evolve to deal with these new threats and challenges.”
Doug Wise, deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, who was participating on the same panel as Brennan, said that the risk of becoming a hacking target is a huge burden those who are the public faces of the intelligence community must endure as part of their public service.
“One of the risks of being a public intelligence figure is you make yourself a target,” Wise said.