A security clearance is an official certification that someone can access information classified by the United States Government.
When United States Federal Government employs a person, he undergoes a background investigation of their credit and criminal history. This is done to ensure that all the federal government employees are trustworthy, reliable, and serving the US with their full loyalty.
Moreover, there are some positions in federal employment that include access to sensitive information. For this position, it is mandatory to have security clearance. Well, this includes people employed by some private companies in the capacity of contractors for a federal government. A national security clearance is required to ensure that the employee is reliable and trustworthy to give access to national security information.
If we talk about the structure of security clearance, let me tell you that it is hierarchical. Every designation indicates the max level of classified information accessed by the clearance holder.
Below we have mentioned the classification levels of national security clearance from least restrictive to most restrictive:
This security clearance provides you access to information that can cause damage to national security if the information is authorized without authorization. It needs to be investigated after every 15 years.
Secret security clearance gives you access to information that can seriously damage national security if disclosed without any authorization. It needs to be reinvestigated after every ten years.
This type of security clearance gives the access to access to information. If that information is disclosed without any authorization, it can cause grave damage to national security. It should e investigated after every five years.
Sensitive compartmented Information (SCI):
This type of information includes intelligence sources, processes, and methods. SCI clearance is assigned when the candidate has been passed through the rigors of SSBI and some special education processes for evaluating the investigation.
Special Access Programs (SAPs)
It includes highly sensitive programs and projects.
The DoD establishes SAPs when the vulnerability of certain information is exceptional, and the general rules for determining eligibility for access are not enough to protect it. They typically employ enhanced security measures that strictly enforce need-to-know, with a small number cleared to have such programs. For example, new military technology often requires this special clearance as well.
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