Behavior of Potential Security Concern

The following are examples of behaviors that may indicate an individual has vulnerabilities that are of security concern or that an individual is in need of assistance.1 This list of behaviors is not all-inclusive. It is not a statement of government policy, but simply illustrative of the kinds of behaviors that may be considered when deciding whether a person should hold a position of trust. Some behaviors are obviously more significant than others. Decisions are not based on any single behavior. They are based on a "whole person" judgment that includes evaluation of a person's strengths as well as weaknesses.

Alcohol Consumption

  • Alcohol-related incidents at work, such as reporting for work or duty in an intoxicated or impaired condition, or drinking on the job.
  • Alcohol-related incidents away from work, such as driving while under the influence, fighting, child or spouse abuse, or other criminal incidents related to alcohol use.
  • Habitual or binge consumption of alcohol to the point of impaired judgment.

Allegiance to the United States

  • Actual or threatened use of force or violence in an effort to change government policy, prevent government personnel from performing their assigned duties, or prevent others from exercising their constitutional rights.
  • Knowing participation in any organization or group that advocates or threatens use of force or violence, as above.

Criminal Conduct

  • Theft
  • Fraud (for example, bribery or solicitation of bribes, misuse of government credit card, misuse of leave, fraudulent travel or expense accounting, tax fraud).
  • Pattern of disregard for rules and regulations (in addition to theft and fraud, this includes taking classified information home at night, driving while intoxicated, etc.).
  • Spouse or child abuse or neglect.
  • Attempts to enlist others in illegal or questionable activity.

Drug Involvement

  • Use of illegal/illicit substances.
  • Misuse of prescription medication (use other than as prescribed).

Emotional, Mental, and Personality Disorders

  • Pattern of significant change from past behavior, especially relating to increased nervousness or anxiety, unexplained depression, hyperactivity, decline in performance or work habits, deterioration of personal hygiene, increased friction in relationships with co-workers, isolating oneself by rejecting any social interaction.
  • Expression of bizarre thoughts, perceptions, or expectations.
  • Pattern of lying and deception of co-workers or supervisors.
  • Talk of or attempt to harm oneself.
  • Argumentative or insulting behavior toward work associates or family to the extent that this has generated workplace discussion or has disrupted the workplace environment.
  • Exploitation or mistreatment of others through intimidation or abuse of power or position.
  • Other disruptive workplace behavior that resists supervisory direction or counseling.
  • Verbal or physical threats toward work associates or family.
  • Inability to control anger -- throwing things, acts of violence.
  • Stalking-type behavior (such as unwanted following, harassing phone calls).
  • Extreme or recurrent statements of bitterness, resentment, vengeance, or disgruntlement that suggest a risk of some illegal or improper action.
  • Threats or attempts to get even with work associates, acts of vindictiveness.

Financial Considerations

  • Living or spending beyond one's means. Unexplained or sudden large sums of cash that may indicate illegal source of income. (Note: This is also covered as a counterintelligence indicator.
  • Calls at work from creditors.
  • Bounced or bad checks.
  • Garnishments, repossessions, unfavorable judgments, or other indications of financial difficulty.
  • Failure to make child or spousal support payments.
  • Reckless or compulsive spending, extensive gambling losses, gambling debt.
  • Bankruptcy.
  • Improper handling of official finances or property, including repeated delinquent accountings for advances, unexplained cash.
  • Shortages or loss of property, sloppy handling of cash funds, disregard for financial or property administration regulations.

Report unexplained affluence

Foreign Influence

  • Unreported personal contacts with personnel from a foreign intelligence service, foreign government, or persons seeking classified, proprietary, or other sensitive information.
  • Unreported close and continuing contact with a foreign national, including intimate contacts, shared living quarters, or marriage.
  • Unreported relatives, or unreported contact with relatives, in a foreign country.
  • Unreported relationship between relative, associate, or person sharing living quarters and any foreign government, foreign intelligence service, criminal or terrorist group, or group advocating disloyalty toward the U.S.

Foreign Preference

  • Exercising benefits of dual citizenship, including possession and use of a foreign passport without approval.
  • Such a deeply held commitment to helping a foreign country or group that an individual may be tempted to circumvent U.S. policy or security regulations in order to assist the foreign country or group.

Misuse of Information Technology Systems

  • Unauthorized entry into any compartmented computer system.
  • Unauthorized searching/browsing through classified computer libraries.
  • Unauthorized modification, destruction, manipulation, or denial of access to information residing on a computer system.
  • Storing or processing classified information on any system not explicitly approved for classified processing.
  • Attempting to circumvent or defeat security or auditing systems, without prior authorization from the system administrator, other than as part of a legitimate system testing or security research.

Outside Activities

  • Failure to report paid or volunteer work for any U.S. or foreign media, publisher, academic institution, research organization or corporation relating to the topics on which one has access to classified information. (See the topic on your responsibility to report certain outside activities in which you engage.)
Personal Conduct
  • Recurring pattern of poor judgment, irresponsibility, or emotionally unstable behavior.
  • Deliberate omission or falsification of material information about background when applying for security processing.
  • Voluntary association with persons involved in criminal activity.
  • Indications subject may succumb to blackmail rather than risk exposure of a personal issue.

Security Violations

  • Persistent lax security habits despite management counseling (such as discussing classified information on non-secure phone, not properly securing classified information or areas, working on classified material at home).
  • Collecting or storing classified information outside approved facilities.
  • Revelation of classified information to unauthorized persons, including news media.
  • Inappropriate, unusual, or excessive interest in classified information outside one's need-to-know.
  • Statements or actions that demonstrate an individual believes the security rules do not apply to him/her.
  • Note: Other issues relating to mishandling of classified information are covered under counterintelligence indicators.

Sexual Behavior

  • Pattern of self-destructive or high-risk sexual behavior that the individual is unable to stop.
  • Criminal sexual behavior.

Related Topics: Reporting Improper, Unreliable or Suspicious Behavior, Exploring the Mind of the Spy, People Who Made a Difference, No Good Excuses for Not Reporting, and Spy Stories -- especially Ames, Walker, Pollard, Hanssen.

1. This list of security indicators is based on the Adjudicative Guidelines and the Adjudicative Desk Reference (ADR).




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