HomesecuritySmartphones make traditional espionage very difficult

Smartphones make traditional espionage very difficult

Traditional espionage is much more difficult in the world of smartphones, according to CIA Director William Burns, a view held by many current and former intelligence officials.

Specifically, it is much more difficult for a spy to establish a convincing false identity in another country...

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CIA: Smartphones make traditional espionage very difficult

The WSJ reports:

A trained CIA officer could once cross the border with a wallet full of aliases or travel safely to foreign cities without being detected. Now, he or she faces digital barriers that characterize modern life: ubiquitous surveillance cameras and biometric border controls, not to mention smartphones, watches, and cars that constantly ping their location. Then there is the "digital dust", the personal record that almost everyone leaves on the internet.

"The fundamentals of espionage have collapsed," said Duyane Norman, a former CIA operative who led an early spy effort to adapt the espionage to the digital age called Station of the Future.

For example, he asks, how can a CIA officer pretend to work for another government agency or private company if his cell phone is not regularly present at that entity, there is no record of ATM withdrawals, and no Its a mark on camcorders there?

Not having an online "signature" —like not having a cell phone and not having an internet presence — is in itself information about rival spy services, said Mr. Norman and others.

In the new environment, it is "much more complicated to practice traditional commercial arts," CIA Director William Burns acknowledged at a confirmation hearing in February.

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smartphone espionage

If CIA spies want to impersonate someone else, they have to actually live that person, said a former spy.
"It is more difficult for intelligence officers to pretend to be someone else," said a retired intelligence officer who said he had nine fake identities during his career. More espionage will be done with a "real name", which means that the spy will not present himself as someone else, but will "live the cover" as a businessman, academic or other professional with no obvious connection to government of the United States.

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But both Burns and other experts say the CIA will adapt.

"We always play attack and we do not take a defensive stance," said a senior CIA official.

For example, it is possible to "fake" the location of a cell phone, misleading foreign spies into believing that their prey is in one place when it is safely in another, current and former CIA officials have said.

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