107.77.201.122 SISS | Counter Espionage | MI6

Espionage

Espionage or spying, is the act of obtaining secret or confidential information without the permission of the holder of the information. Spies help agencies uncover secret information. Any individual or spy ring (a cooperating group of spies), in the service of a government, company or independent operation, can commit espionage. The practice is clandestine, as it is by definition unwelcome and in many cases illegal and punishable by law. Espionage is a method of "intelligence" gathering which includes information gathering from public sources.

 

Espionage is often part of an institutional effort by a government or commercial concern. However, the term tends to be associated with state spying on potential or actual enemies for military purposes. Spying involving corporations is known as industrial espionage.

 

One of the most effective ways to gather data and information about the enemy (or potential enemy) is by infiltrating the enemy's ranks. This is the job of the spy (espionage agent). Spies can return information concerning the size and strength of enemy forces. They can also find dissidents within the enemy's forces and influence them to defect. In times of crisis, spies steal technology and sabotage the enemy in various ways. Counterintelligence is the practice of thwarting enemy espionage and intelligence-gathering. Almost all nations have strict laws concerning espionage and the penalty for being caught is often severe. However, the benefits gained through espionage are often so great that most governments and many large corporations make use of it.

 

Information collection techniques used in the conduct of clandestine human intelligence include operational techniques, asset recruiting, and tradecraft.

 

Targets of Espionage

Espionage agents are usually trained experts in a targeted field so they can differentiate mundane information from targets of value to their own organisational development. Correct identification of the target at its execution is the sole purpose of the espionage operation.

 

Broad areas of espionage targeting expertise include:

  • Natural resources: strategic production identification and assessment (food, energy, materials). Agents are usually found among bureaucrats who administer these resources in their own countries

  • Popular sentiment towards domestic and foreign policies (popular, middle class, elites). Agents often recruited from field journalistic crews, exchange postgraduate students and sociology researchers

  • Strategic economic strengths (production, research, manufacture, infrastructure). Agents recruited from science and technology academia, commercial enterprises, and more rarely from among military technologists

  • Military capability intelligence (offensive, defensive, naval, air, space). Agents are trained by military espionage education facilities, and posted to an area of operation with covert identities to minimise prosecution

  • Counterintelligence operations targeting opponents' intelligence services themselves, such as breaching confidentiality of communications, and recruiting defectors or moles.

Commonly used Methods

Although the news media may speak of "spy satellites" and the like, espionage is not a synonym for all intelligence-gathering disciplines. It is a specific form of human source intelligence (HUMINT).

 

Codebreaking (cryptanalysis or COMINT), aircraft or satellite photography, (IMINT) and research in open publications (OSINT) are all intelligence gathering disciplines, but none of them is considered espionage. Many HUMINT activities, such as prisoner interrogation, reports from military reconnaissance patrols and from diplomats, etc., are not considered espionage. Espionage is the disclosure of sensitive information (classified) to people who are not cleared for that information or access to that sensitive information.

 

Unlike other forms of intelligence collection disciplines, espionage usually involves accessing the place where the desired information is stored or accessing the people who know the information and will divulge it through some kind of subterfuge. There are exceptions to physical meetings, such as the Oslo Report, or the insistence of Robert Hanssen in never meeting the people who bought his information.

 

The US defines espionage towards itself as "The act of obtaining, delivering, transmitting, communicating, or receiving information about the national defence with an intent, or reason to believe, that the information may be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation". 

Secret Intelligence - Politics
SISS  22.03.20

There have been many many articles written on this subject, and documentaries made.  It will sell until the cows come home for one reason.  It is about us.  Attempts have been made, some more for appearance, in assessing the dangers of another US election being affected.  Many meetings have been held at senior levels and suggestions made as to how we can avoid it happening again.

 

Here’s one hypothesis.  It will never stop happening.  It is far too late for that.  Cruz was the loss leader, the one the pushers used to get the US hooked on the data drug, and the Trump administration piled in.  The relationship between money, greed and power (and therefore information) has probably been around since the beginning of time.  Why on earth would we be surprised if this continued, and not only continued, but got more sophisticated?  Julian Wheatmand, the former CEO of Cambridge Analytica was recently quoted as saying “I’m pretty sure nobody’s thinking of trying to start it up again under a different guise”.  The word that stands out there is “pretty”.  Come on Julian, who are you trying to kid?

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Institute for Economics & Peace. Global Terrorism Index 2019: Measuring the Impact of Terrorism, Sydney, November 2019. Available from: http://visionofhumanity.org/reports

The latest Global Terrorism Index data shows Incidents of far-right terrorism have been increasing in the West, particularly in Western Europe, North America, and Oceania and the three largest politically motivated terrorist attacks in the West in the last 50 years have been perpetuated by far-right extremists.Full Report

The current environment will open up opportunities for leaders, corporations and individuals to oush through hidden agenda..In plain sight, yet not seem.

 

Where the virus came from and why it happened when it did, is so far an unanswered question.  At this stage however, those sorts of questions are secondary.  The focus has to be on what is happening now and ensuring the pandemic protocols are being adhered to whilst at the same time, flexible enough to allow for unexpected events.There seems to be a consensus in the medical world that this was not a result of any advanced bioweapon designed at the bio level super laboratory in Wuhan.   Without the facts, it is simply speculation. What has been concerning is witnessing how different sections of the hugely influential social media are dealing with this.  In an age of ever-increasing mistrust, especially from the younger generation and their view of Government, social media companies including Facebook take on board a social responsibility, albeit unaccountable. 

AML Loopholes - Update

We are pleased that Paxful, the company we mentioned in our reports, some 18 months ago, seem to have filled in the AML gaps in their processes.  We had highlighted the ease with which anyone could simply purchase gift cards (in reasonable size) and convert them to bitcoin through their peer-to-peer software. It was 100% untraceable if done correctly.  There are still other methods being used out there, but Paxful have added a simple additional, needed layer, to confirm ID.  So well done Youssef, this was something they had not done before. Paxful (Youssef) began not as silicon valley entreprenneurs, but more socially conscious Robin Hoods.  Now with stricter AML in place, they don't have to do business with the Sherrif of Nottingham any  more.

The Snowden Assange Legacy..

If they managed to get the US Govt. to do one thing following the mass surveillance watershed, it was to kick-start a rise of PIA's and specilaist firms such as Cambridge Analytica, to do what they could no longer get away with.  But,  apart from the 'consent' technicality, was data gathering on indivduals really that bad?  Wasn't it just scaled up market research?

Secret Intelligence - Politics
SISS  22.03.20

How to be honest and diplomatic at the same time.  Recruiting an MI6 employee is relativley easy compared to keeping an MI6 employee,  or indeed within any intelligence service....maybe with the exception of MOSSAD (they may well have their own less liberal incentive structures).  Think of an MI6 employee as a pilot in the Airforce.  The taxpayer spends millions on training them, they love the thought of flying and a good dogfight, serving their nation, they train for years, then end up flying charter aircraft for tourists to Tenerife every summer, retire with high blood pressure and wonder what the hell happened.  It's life  It will happen to most people in a hard profession.  Ideology is a luxury.  Having it, implies choice.  Not everyone has choice.  Joining for these reasons alone, will not keep you in MI6.  When ideology goes it has to be replaced with another luxury item.  Money? Ego? Power? Maybe even Revenge.  Cynical comments maybe, but quite possibly simply realistic ones.  Losing an MI6 employee of sufficient rank is a huge risk and one which has faced MI6 since its inception.  In todays climate, ideology is watered down when compared to the sheer 

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Secret Intelligence - Politics
SISS  22.03.20

Ask the man (or woman) on the street what the Internet Society is and what it does.  It might go quiet. There are a handful of companies globally that influence the direction of internet and telecommunications, for example, the Project Coordination Group (PCG) is one, and of course, the Internet Society est. 1991 whose motto is "The internet is for everyone". Well ok that’s not strictly true though is it.  Ask the 100’s of people banished from Twitter for ever, for seemingly innocuous non-pc comments.  Nestled only 2Km from the Penatgon, the IOS states its aim (as with many non-profit organisations) is to develop leadership in internet-related standards, education, access, and policy.  But it only has 65,000 members and according to Wikipedia it has $1.1bn in cash holdings (unaudited) and a hefty $42m endowment from numerous sources.  So there is a very large amount of money, which presumably has some flow through it too, but with a membership base which is not exactlyvery representative.  Also, The Internet Society is a U.S. 501(c)3 tax-exempt charitable organization.  So, we have money in size.  We have flow¹, presumably in size too, a relaitvely non-accountable body, charged with shaping the future of the internet, next door to the US Goverment and CIA .  What could possibly go wrong?  In the interests of well thought out research and objective work, let’s remove the head gasket and work our way down to the pistons of this particular machine. Full Article

¹ The term 'flow' refers to the flow of money or assets, generally in size.  Flow is sought out by larger instituional investors on the global markets for legitimate pruposes eg. to enter or exit a market or investment without having problems with placement or prices quoted.  It is often a sign of a healthy market and economy.  That said, criminal organisations also require flow in order to 'hide' their transactions so they appear inconsequencial, or 'remora like' i.e people use flow to hide in the shadows.

Is this a taster before the main course?

SISS  22.03.20
Secret Intelligence - Politics

Being cynical is not attractive.  It's certainly not a character trait most politicians would choose to display publicly.  No one likes a dull, gloomy politician after all, especially one who is only interested in facts, tangible evidence, logic and is a team player.  That is why there is a civil service which, although not the core ‘check or balance’ of the executive, is in reality a crucial layer that stands between ego and the manifestation of that ego, which is normally influenced by populism.  Without the cynics, realists, skeptics, what ever you want to call them, the machine really would grind more slowly in times of trouble like these.  Being the ever cautious type might result in being wrong nine out of ten times, but when the type of decisions being talked about are so monumnetaloly important, one would settle for being right just one of those times.  Rather a bruised ego for only getting one out of ten, but a fair price given the reward.  From such characteristics contingency plans are born.  Which is one reason we cannot hand on heart, or even with a responsible logical  head on, discount the prospect that atleast some element of this may have been orchestrated and then simply got out of control

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Either way whatever your position, one cannot help but feel this is the ‘warm up’ act.  Without wanting to sound flippant, if this was the ‘amuse bouche’ with the main course still yet to come. Then what lessons are being learnedt?  Given that nearly every corner of the world has had the success or failure of its contingency arrangements tested, then the answer would have to be, a great deal.  This particular strain of Corona is new for sure and is said to be 10-15 times deadlier than seasonal flu, but compared to other pandemics, the fatality rate is still relatively low.  A politician would never be heard saying that though.  Instead, all measures must be put into action to help the weakest members of society, and even the stronger and younger members, to ride through this.  But let us not kid ourselves.  You can guarantee that, as in all wars, collateral damage has been factored in and any emotion or sentiment has to be put aside.  Such is the job of ‘those in charge’.  With that in mind, the most valuable outcome of the COVID-19 virus will be data.  Invaluable data which will be used for the ‘big one’.  May be this writer is cycnial and skeptical and even the mere suggestion things are not as they seem is tantamount to irresponsibility.  But hopefully the corridors of power both here and throughout most sane responsible governments around the globe are filled with people who question, question, and then question some more.  To answer those questions requires a steady hand and most importantly of all, intelligence and data. 

Blockchain. Crypto was the warm up....how tech development works in the real world.

Secret Intelligence - Politics
SISS  22.03.20

Blockchain technology is now entering its teenage years, and yet the general public still either knows very little about it, or assumes it is "something to do with bitcoin". (that's the most common one).  The exact origins will probably never be known for sure, but its application in numerous other industries and systems is more certain.  If we simply follow the money, we can see where the investment is currently taking place and it is not just financial markets.  Plans are already in the pipeline for the next generation where blockchain laid the foundations, and where aspirations go somewhat higher than just bitcoin. 

The Human Stock Market....

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SISS  22.03.20
Secret Intelligence - Politics

Replace “Human Being” with “Data Packet”.  You may well have heard the oft used phrase that ‘data is now as valuable as Gold’.  The question is how and if so, where is this heading?  We will come on to that a little later, but for now it would be useful to familiarize ourselves with some other key issues in the world of human data first. We have already written about the problem, and what will likely be, the increasing problem of Bio Spoofing or Bio Leaks.  In short, this is the stealing of a person’s biological identity in order to gain illegal access to money, data, facilities etc.  The most well-known forms are recognition systems which use retinal imagery, facial or fingerprint identity, and perhaps fewer known sources such as your veins, heartbeat speeds and the DNA from your blood. 

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Finding one person or one nation to blame is just going to waste time.  Focus is on the here and now, and then recovery.

Secret Intelligence - Politics
SISS  22.03.20

At times like these, finding someone to blame or accusing various Governments or Organisations of acting too late or irresponsibly is a luxury one can only afford in times..... not like these.  Of course, there will be criticisms, there will conspiracy theories and who knows, maybe some of them might be true.  But what remains, is what it is.  So the UK Government will be trying to find a fair balance between delivering some positive soundbites (the 'noble lies' we referred to) and keeping order, and the mammoth task of committing resources at the right time and in the right places.

 

Of course, this is a war.  It is a war we have been preparing for and a war which unlike in previous years

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The 'tap on the shoulder works'. Don't call us, we'll call you.

There are some very good, and more obvious reasons why the tap on the shoulder method of recruitment works. It has been used since the begiining and will continue to be used in the future.  It works.  Why?  Apart from the obvious i.e the avoidance of "walk in's" which therefore eliminates the prospects of a double agent entering the organisation, there are less obvious, more subtle (less Policitcally Correct) benefits.  We recently wrote about the "Buddhist Spy" and highlighted how removing temptation from an Intelligence (or Operational) Officer as well as an Agent, was often critical in aiding autonomy in the field, as well as trust.  The process of targeting an asset for recrutiment is of course completley different and conducted by entirely different people compared to those involved in the more 'vanilla' graduate recrutiment campaigns.  That said, there are some cross-overs.  There are also some serious deficiencies and limitations to the more exclusionary Oxbridge focussed pool of candidates.  In essence there is no one way.  There are lots of types needed to fit into an organisation like MI6 or MI5, and representatives from all walks of life and parts of society will be included.  The days of Kim Philby certainly highlighted how 6 can get caught with their draws down in Oxford and Cambridge, and indeed they did...in some cases literally.  Things probably have not changed that much and there will still be the ususal contingent of 'Russian Reps' walking the cobbled paths of Trinity.  It all depends on the job in hand. 

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Secret Intelligence - Politics
SISS  22.03.20
Secret Intelligence - Politics
SISS  22.03.20
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