Intelligence: The CIA's Internet Vulnerability


March 13, 2006: The Internet works both ways for spies. While the CIA does all manner of nifty analysis of web based data, in order to find terrorists, it turns out that anyone can use the web to find out a lot about CIA activity. This has been know by many civilian intelligence buffs for some time.

Recently, however, because of the lengthy investigations of leaks from, or about, the CIA, a lot more people are becoming aware of how vulnerable the CIA is to web based searches. Foreign intelligence agencies have know about this vulnerability for some time, and some terrorist organizations may as well. Everyone knew of this vulnerability except, apparently, the CIA.

It was long believed that any web based info on the CIA was a deception, Maybe it is, but in response to a recent newspaper article (the Chicago Tribune) on the subject, the CIA is responding as if they were shocked, shocked at this vulnerability. Something will be done. Exactly what, has not been made clear.

This would not be the first time CIA secrets were revealed using common tools. Before the web was available, a little light digging could reveal a lot about supposedly clandestine CIA operations. Of course, it's also a given in the intelligence business that there are different degrees of "secrecy." On one extreme you have stuff that hardly anyone knows about, and is rarely exposed to public scrutiny. At the other extreme you have things like secret agents who operate in the open (in their cover identity and job), but can be easily outed via a little digging into open sources. This isn't a big deal if your main goal is to save a lot of money by providing some people with "light cover" to the general public. More secrecy costs more money and effort, and puts more stress on the people involved. However, questions have been raised about whether the CIA wasn't getting their money's worth, or were going light when they should have been tight.


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