Domain awareness and the willingness to speak out when something looks out of place is at the core of insider threat awareness messaging.
Transportation Security Inspectors (TSIs) Ryan Clay and Jonathan Curzon know a thing or two about identifying and closing security vulnerabilities in the nation’s transportation system. As TSIs, they routinely conduct regulatory inspections and investigations and monitor compliance with TSA security policies, programs and regulations.
Clay, from Memphis International Airport, and Curzon, from Jacksonville International Airport, are participating in the Mid-Level Leadership Development Program (MLDP). Through that program they were detailed to the Law Enforcement/Federal Air Marshal Service (LE/FAMS) Insider Threat Section (ITS) as September’s National Insider Threat Awareness Month (NITAM) coordinators.
“I know the value of self-improvement and applied to the MLDP program for both self-development and to better equip myself in TSA,” recalled Clay, who onboarded in April 2016. “Through the MLDP program, I was presented an opportunity to conduct this developmental assignment with ITS.”
The two began their year-long MLDP experience this past spring with virtual classroom courses offered by George Mason University. One of the program requirements is a developmental assignment, and their backgrounds made them a perfect fit for the NITAM project.
“I thought it was interesting they chose two inspectors for this assignment,” said Curzon. “I was attracted to it because as an inspector, I deal with the insider threat topic with stakeholders.”
“The experience is beneficial not only developmentally and experientially, but is also a treasured achievement,” said Clay of the ITS assignment.
At a safe, socially distanced 727 miles apart, the two engaged in a few brainstorming sessions, then formulated and executed the communication plan reminding TSA employees to stay vigilant and do their part in detecting, deterring and mitigating insider threats.
This year’s national theme is Cultural Awareness and Insider Threat. “It points to fostering an environment of inclusivity instead of divisiveness and being culturally aware, not to create a work environment that can lend itself to creating an insider threat with disgruntled employees,” said Clay. “It’s important to keep the focus fresh. [Often,] it’s going to be someone who works alongside another person who will spot something outside of their normal behavior.”
What I do matters – Ryan Clay
What I do matters because insider threat is currently the most concerning threat stream to TSA and the transportation industry. By developing and coordinating NITAM material and communications, I feel that I am equipping my colleagues to better deter, recognize, mitigate and report insider threat activity. As a security professional, it is my job to ensure the security of the transportation system for the freedom of movement for people and commerce, and I know that preventing insider threats is an important part of that mission.
What I do matters – Jonathan Curzon
As a TSI, I support TSA’s mission by serving as another security mechanism, often behind the scenes, providing critical oversight of the transportation system. Specifically, through testing and inspecting compliance within the transportation domain, I help improve the transportation system by identifying and mitigating security vulnerabilities, making it safer for those who rely on it. While detailed to LE/FAMS ITS, I am supporting the same TSA mission in another way. In this capacity, the focus is raising awareness within the transportation system about the threat insiders pose to our transportation system and helping promote reporting requirements through LE/FAMS ITS.