According to the Department of Justice a federal Grand Jury returned a 26-count indictment charging Mark Robert Unkenholz of Hanover Maryland for willful transmission and retention of National Defense Information (NDI). The indictment was returned on March 29, 2022, and unsealed today upon the arrest of the defendant. Unkenholz is expected to appear in court today at 3:00 p.m.
As an employee of the National Security Agency (NSA), Unkenholz held a TOP SECRET/SCI clearance and had lawful access to classified information relating to the national defense that was closely held by the government (“National Defense Information” or “NDI”). National security information is classified as “TOP SECRET,” “SECRET,” or “CONFIDENTIAL.” Only individuals with the appropriate security clearance could have authorized access to such classified national security information. All classified information can only be stored in an approved facility and container.
Unkenholz represents a classic Insider Threat: Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency(CISA) defines Insider Threats as “Insider threat is the potential for an insider to use their authorized access or understanding of an organization to harm that organization. This harm can include malicious, complacent, or unintentional acts that negatively affect the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of the organization, its data, personnel, or facilities. External stakeholders and customers of DHS may find this generic definition better suited and adaptable for their organization’s use.” Depending on the experts, 70-90% of organizations have been victim of an Inside Threat. Why the 2021 FBI Internet Crime Report even fails to mention the threat.
A cursory look at the Unkenholz surname shows it is very rare surname. It is estimated that the surname has been found in two countries: The United States and Germany
According to the indictment, on thirteen occasions between February 14, 2018 and June 1, 2020, Unkenholz, lawfully having possession of, access to, and control over NDI, which he had reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully transmitted that information to another person who was not entitled to receive it. The indictment alleges that the information Unkenholz transmitted was classified at the SECRET and TOP SECRET/SCI levels and that Unkenholz transmitted the classified information using his personal email address to the other person’s private company email addresses. The person receiving the information held a TOP SECRET/SCI clearance from April 2016 until approximately June 2019, while employed at a company referred to in the indictment as “Company 1.” From July 2019 until approximately January 2021, the person worked for a company referred to in the indictment as “Company 2” and was not authorized to access or receive classified information
The indictment alleges that Unkenholz’s personal email address, and the company email addresses of the person receiving the information were not authorized storage locations for classified NDI. Unkenholz allegedly retained the classified NDI within his personal email address.