Friday, November 28, 2008

Russia eavesdrops on sensitive US information

Various media reports indicate that hackers from Russia have stolen “unclassified” but “sensitive” (in combination) information from government systems, according to multiple media reports today. A typical story is in the BBC here and apparently much of the work was gathered by the Los Angeles Times. The report certainly reinforces recent tensions with Russia, as over missile deployments and whether Russia will test the new Obama administration.

The report came from the National Infrastructure Protection Center of the FBI, with director Michael A. Vatis. A major statement of the Center’s work appears on the Commission for Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies, or CALEA Online, link here.

The report suggests a phenomenon known well in intelligence. Many individual facts (as about personnel) are themselves insignificant and sometimes are public. But when they are assembled or correlated in certain ways, they can point out vulnerabilities to outside enemies. This is more or less a matter of “social engineering” and “psychological operations.”

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