Ex-NSA contractor Harold Martin indicted: He spent 'up to 20 years stealing top-secret files'

US prosecutors list dossiers and code allegedly swiped

Former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor Harold Thomas Martin III allegedly stole secret and top-secret software and documents from American intelligence agencies for up to 20 years. That's according to a federal grand jury indictment revealed today.

The legal paperwork [PDF] lays out the US Department of Justice's case against Martin, 52, of Glen Burnie, Baltimore. During those two decades, he worked as a freelancer for seven private companies on various Department of Defense and US intelligence projects. One of those seven outfits was Booz Allen Hamilton, Edward Snowden's one-time employer.

In a statement, prosecutors said: “Martin held security clearances up to top secret and sensitive compartmented information (SCI) at various times, and worked on a number of highly classified, specialized projects where he had access to government computer systems, programs and information, including classified information.

"Over his many years of holding a security clearance, Martin received training regarding classified information and his duty to protect classified materials from unauthorized disclosure.

"The indictment alleges that beginning no earlier than 1996 and continuing through August 27, 2016, Martin stole and retained US government property, including documents that bore markings indicating that they were property of the US and contained highly classified information, including TOP SECRET/SCI. A Top Secret classification means that unauthorized disclosure reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the US.

"Martin allegedly retained stolen documents containing classified information relating to the national defense at his residence and in his vehicle. Martin knew that the stolen documents contained classified information that related to national defense and that he was never authorized to retain these documents at his residence or in his vehicle."

The list of files Martin is alleged to have stolen and stashed at home is extensive: NSA organization plans from 2014; also from that year, documents detailing potential foreign cyber targets and foreign network hacking techniques; a 2009 US signals intelligence directive describing “specific methods, capabilities, techniques, processes, and procedures” for defending government computer systems; correspondence about NSA overseas projects from 2008; and so on and so forth.

The indictment also lists five US Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) documents, a CIA file, and a 2007 National Reconnaissance Office dossier discussing the launch of a spy satellite with an “unacknowledged ground station.”

Martin was collared and charged in October 2016.

Earlier this week, The Washington Post noted that Zachary Myers, an assistant US attorney with the District of Maryland, told a court last year Martin had 50TB of potentially secret and top-secret data at his home.

It is alleged Martin even copied penetration tools from the NSA's elite computer hacking squad, the Tailored Access Operations. Part of TAO's toolkit is believed to have leaked online via the mysterious Shadow Brokers crew of miscreants. Some in the media and infosec world have tried to link Martin to the Shadow Brokers' leak.

Martin's lawyers insisted their man wasn't another document-leaking Edward Snowden, but rather a compulsive hoarder who “loves his family and his country,” and that he simply took the secret files home with him with no ill intentions.

Martin, who is awaiting trial behind bars, is due to appear before US magistrate Judge A. David Copperthite in Baltimore on February 14. The ex-contractor faces up to 10 years in the cooler for each of the alleged 20 counts of willful retention of national defense information. ®

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

  • China thrilled it captured already-leaked NSA cyber-weapon
    Not now with your mischief, Beijing

    China claims it has obtained malware used by the NSA to steal files, monitor and redirect network traffic, and remotely control computers to spy on foreign targets.

    The software nasty, dubbed NOPEN, is built to commandeer selected Unix and Linux systems, according to Chinese Communist Party tabloid Global Times, which today cited a report it got exclusively from China's National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center.

    Trouble is, NOPEN was among the files publicly leaked in 2016 by the Shadow Brokers. If you can recall back that far, the Shadow Brokers stole and dumped online malware developed by the NSA's Equation Group.

    Continue reading
  • Anatomy of suspected top-tier decade-hidden NSA backdoor
    Bvp47 of yore said to have used BPF to conceal comms in network traffic

    Pangu Lab has identified what it claims is a sophisticated backdoor that was used by the NSA to subvert highly targeted Linux systems around the world for more than a decade.

    The China-based computer-security outfit says it first spotted the backdoor code, or advanced persistent threat (APT), in 2013 when conducting a forensic investigation on a host in "a key domestic department" – presumably a Chinese company or government agency.

    To us it seems whoever created the code would compromise or infect a selected Linux system and then install the backdoor on it. This backdoor, which Pangu has now described, would do its best to hide from administrators and users, and covertly communicate over networks with the outside world.

    Continue reading
  • NSA: We 'don't know when or even if' a quantum computer will ever be able to break today's public-key encryption
    Then again, it would say that

    America's National Security Agency has published an FAQ about quantum cryptography, saying it does not know "when or even if" a quantum computer will ever exist to "exploit" public-key cryptography.

    In the document, titled Quantum Computing and Post-Quantum Cryptography, the NSA said it "has to produce requirements today for systems that will be used for many decades in the future." With that in mind, the agency came up with some predictions [PDF] for the near future of quantum computing and their impact on encryption.

    Is the NSA worried about the threat posed by a "cryptographically relevant quantum computer" (CRQC)? Apparently not too much.

    Continue reading
  • HPE bags $2bn HPC-as-a-service gig with the NSA
    Ten-year agreement kicks off in 2022 to help spies do spying

    Hewlett Packard Enterprise has scored a $2bn contract with the US National Security Agency to provide the cyber-spies a high-performance-computing-as-a-service via the tech biz's GreenLake platform.

    Under the deal, HPE will fully host and manage the service over a ten-year period. The HPC service is intended to allow the NSA to “harness” AI and data to create insights, the company said.

    “Implementing artificial intelligence, machine learning and analytics capabilities on massive sets of data increasingly require High Performance Computing systems,” said Justin Hotard, HPE senior veep and GM of HPC and Mission Critical Computing.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022