Authorities are attempting to prove that a former government contractor leaked them to hacking groups.
FBI agents seized more than 50 terabytes of classified documents and other physical files from the Maryland home of former NSA contractor Harold Martin, in what authorities are calling the largest case of classified document mishandling in US history.
According to a federal court filing this week, Martin spent 20 years working for multiple government agencies, including the NSA. He was arrested on Aug. 27, and agents are still combing through the vast amount of classified material.
It is unclear whether all the digital and paper files are classified, but prosecutors said much of it is likely “national defense information.”
Martin’s arrest came less than a week after federal authorities announced they were investigating a leak of the NSA’s hacking tools.
That leak, which included a 31-page document describing administrative tools for tracking surveillance targets, appeared to originate from the Shadow Brokers and Equation hacking groups.
Investigators are seeking to prove that the groups obtained the leaked documents from Martin, though they have so far been unsuccessful, the New York Times reported this week.
They have found some forensic clues that he might be the source, but the evidence is not conclusive, officials who have been briefed on the investigation told the Times.
From prosecutors’ statements in the court filing, Martin appeared to be careless in how he stored some the information, with many of the physical documents found scattered around his home office and in the trunk of his car.
But he was far more careful with the digital records.
“Examination of the digital media seized from the Defendant indicates extensive use of sophisticated encryption, anonymization, and virtual machine technologies,” prosecutors wrote. “There is evidence that he has remote data storage accounts and has engaged in encrypted communications.”