Cyber Vetting and the Career Risks of Online Sabotage

One of the more popular articles we’ve published at is ‘How to Prevent a Vindictive Ex From Tanking Your Security Clearance.’ It did so well, we turned it into a popular YouTube video, as well. I don’t want to speculate as to the marriages of the average clearance holder, but the statistics spell it out – approximately 40-50 percent of marriages end in divorce, and many professionals are left wondering how an ex will affect their security clearance.

In May the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) issued SEAD 5, which provided the policy direction for the cyber vetting of security clearance holders. Continuous monitoring is already being piloted across the cleared workforce, and is slowly making its way to more offices. Every professional (clearance or no clearance) should already know that what happens online doesn’t stay online. But the importance of protecting your online identity only grows in an era where your digital footprint becomes fodder for your background investigation.

The Crazy Ex Girlfriend and the Facebook Page

Enter a recent Washington Post story which told a disturbing tale of a disturbed ex girlfriend. Over the course of four months one man was arrested four times, all based on claims his girlfriend made and substantiated through Facebook posts.

“He was charged with multiple felonies, according to a news release from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. Which must have been confusing, given that Parkervest didn’t do any of it. Then, it must have been frightening when his bail was raised to $200,000 last December and to pay it his grandparents had to offer their home in Irvine, Calif., as collateral,” the Washington Post reports.

Police eventually realized the statements were false. But not until the preliminary investigation was well underway. This followed months of uncertainty for the accused, and the multiple arrests. For most individuals, keeping employment under those circumstances would be difficult. For a clearance holder, it could be impossible.

Due Process

The bright side of such cyber incidents is that the truth usually comes to light – but not before an individual has the chance to wreak major havoc on someone’s life. If you’re accused of doing something suspicious online, cyber vetting creates an obligation for the government to do something about it. Which is absolutely essential in a post-Snowden, post-Alexis world. But more vigilance will be needed to ensure the rights of clearance holders are protected, as well.


  1. I’m just so glad they didn’t have all this social media stuff when I was young and foolish. Now that I’m older and somewhat less foolish I can handle it a little better.