Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you know that the FBI arrested 11 Russian spies. According to FBI officials, the Russians were spying on the United States and operating "deep cover" agents who were attempting to penetrate "policy making circles".
It seems so 1974, doesn't it?
It's also interesting and perhaps even coincidental that these arrests happened shortly after Russian President Medvedev met with President Obama. President Medvedev even had the opportunity to experience the life-changing world of 140-character-at-a-time tweets.
This modern-day Russian spy thing is also a great story. Not only do you have a throwback to the Cold War, secret agents, and spies, you also have the hot model Anna Chapman, who is allegedly a secret mole spying on Americans. She even has a Facebook page with 684 friends! (Update: another profile link, with 162 friends -- are people de-friending now?)
It's a great story, but -- perhaps more importantly -- it's almost not surprising. After all, spycraft is as old as civilization and whether or not the "Russkies" are spying for secret information on our nuclear strategy, trying to influence our foreign policy, or stealing high-tech trade secrets, this is what countries and companies do.
A few years ago, I wrote about the worrisome implications of the Mexican theft of White House BlackBerry devices, where an agent of the Mexican government stole BlackBerry devices belong to White House officials while at a conference.
The Russian story is why it's so important that America's intelligence agencies remain fully-funded and continue to improve their techniques, skills, and technology. Mark my words: Russia is not the only country spying on us. They're not even the only "frenemy". Expect our allies to have deep cover spies in the United States as well as our more serious enemies.
Be careful who you trust. But also be aware that the risk isn't just from spies who operate under cover. Companies and government agencies regularly engage in practices so incomprehensibly stupid when it comes to security that it almost makes old-school spying seem unnecessary.
For example, many of our financial services companies (yeah, those jokers) provide access to our confidential financial information to people in foreign countries -- you know, the people we call for customer service. U.S. government agencies routinely outsource IT operations, often to countries not necessarily on our friend's list.
American universities routinely bring in foreign nationals as graduate students and provide them access to the most secret of research projects, and then send them home once they graduate -- complete with all that knowledge.
And, of course, companies like AT&T can't seem to get something simple like an iPhone purchase right, so they send credit card information out via email to, well, pretty much random people on the Internet.
So, yes, the story of hot Anna and her spy cabal makes for good buzz. And yes, there could be more deep cover spies among us. But we need to take real and reasonable precautions as well, and stop going out of our way to sacrifice our own security, outsource our own financial and IT operations, and stop sharing so much information freely and openly.
When it comes to security, the Russians may be our frenemies, but we may be our own worst enemies.