Digital Conflict

By Kevin Coleman

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Kevin Coleman

The growing demand for cyber spies

It was bound to happen. You have heard of an arms race. Now there is an intelligence race and it is all about cyber.

If you look at what you need for a cyber intelligence race, you will find cyber spies at the top of the list of badly needed resources and capabilities.

Cyber spies are not hackers. They are computer-savvy operatives that are on the offensive and defensive side of acts of cyber aggression. In some cases, they even serve as bait to attract the attention of adversaries.

These unique and highly skilled individuals are in short supply. In their role, they fit between the hacker and the traditional spy and work as intermediaries to recruit insiders, deliver infected thumb drives, CDs and other devices to operatives for planting inside of targeted organizations.

During a recent conversation, an individual who has been in the ongoing battle of cyber defense for more than a decade was asked to be a cyber intelligence source for a division of the military. That’s right, he was being recruited as a cyber operative. As he progressed through the process his recruiter asked him to fill out a form and sign at the bottom attesting he would turn over all information he obtained.

You know this would be scanned, reentered and stored in one of the military’s many systems. That is what I refer to as industrial-strength stupid. We just had a breach of individuals in a similar role for a law enforcement agency that saw the identities posted online. No one in his right mind or who understands the cyber threat environment would ever agree to this. Maybe that is why open positions in this area of intelligence go unfilled.

This is one area to keep a close eye on, and I will be reporting on it as the ranks of cyber spies grow and become more visible through their efforts to gather intelligence.

Posted by Kevin Coleman on Sep 29, 2011 at 9:27 PM

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