Edward Snowden's 2013 leaks hurt U.S. businesses more than the government agencies that lost the information, the recently departed deputy director of national intelligence said Monday.
Sue Gordon, who resigned her position with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in August and left the role just last week, was speaking to an audience of corporate executives at CNBC's @Work People + Machines Summit in San Francisco.
"One of our favorite insider threats was Edward Snowden, and he did massive damage to the security of the nation just in terms of what he exposed about information operations," Gordon said.
"But he did more damage to the private sector. Because one of the things he exposed was a relationship between the government and companies, and our adversaries were able to go and demand more of those companies in order to do business with them," she said.
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"Let me just say it: Increasingly, the threat surface in America is not governmental systems, they're yours, because you're the strength of what we're doing and our adversaries have figured out where American strength resides," she said. Companies need to be more mindful of this dynamic, she said, and be able to calculate the value of their information, even if they don't immediately think their data is particularly valuable.
"It may not have been that you perceived yourself as having something interesting," she said.
Gordon told the audience they need to cultivate a culture of responsibility for protecting data among their employees. "It's not just your company. There's an ecosystem that we're all a part of and so protecting that is as much a part of it as anything else."
The National Security Agency announced in September it is suing Snowden for failing to submit his recently published book to the government for clearance.