Trained as a forensic psychologist and a 15-year veteran of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Michael Gelles has long had an interest in the bad guys within organizations. At NCIS, he consulted on counterintelligence and counterespionage and took an active role in looking at the insider threat. Years later, Gelles transitioned into the civilian world, landing at Deloitte. He continued working on insider threat issues, literally writing the book on the subject: Insider Threat: Prevention, Detection, Mitigation and Deterrence.
“Let’s just say the insider threat has become quite an interesting topic these days,” he told Nextgov. “Respectfully, it has become a bit of a shiny object for folks. For me, having spent a career with it, it is almost like folks have finally awakened to this issue despite the fact that it has been something that the government has long been focused on.”
Gelles, now a director with the Deloitte Consulting federal practice, talked with Nextgov Executive Editor Camille Tuutti about how insider threats have evolved throughout the years. The transcript of their conversation below has been edited for length and clarity.
Nextgov: You mentioned an awakening. What do you mean by that?
Michael Gelles: I think some of that awakening is the end result of for many, many years, it was always a reactive problem. And quite frankly, it was a problem that people viewed as very low frequency but very high impact. In many instances, it was of such low frequency, people felt that this is probably not going to happen here: “I trust everyone who works for me. Everyone who works for me is dedicated.”
With the advent of technology and …