How did Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old computer technician, gain such widespread access to NSA systems while performing services as a contractor? How did he manage to bring in, much less use, a flash drive at the client site?

Why was he able to come and go without being screened for possession of portable media, or other items that posed a risk to security? Who failed to flag him when he navigated to what should have been secure sites and downloaded highly classified information?

Either the NSA or its vendor — Booz Allen Hamilton — was seriously remiss in screening candidates, and willfully negligent in data security.

Today at numerous financial-services companies in the Twin Cities, you cannot insert a flash drive into your laptop; it will wipe it clean before you load anything onto it, and will wipe it again before you can take it out. Many companies won’t let you attach a cellphone charger or MP3 player to a laptop for the same reason.

Instead of blaming an entry-level tech, companies like Booz Allen need to identify and fix big gaps in how they manage and lock down highly sensitive information, as well as how they recruit and monitor technical resources.