The Cold War just got hotter. Deep undercover with a sexy Russian spy.

The Cold War just got hotter. Deep undercover with a sexy Russian spy.

Summary: 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.

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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.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Banking, Government, Government US, Security

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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23 comments
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  • RE: The Cold War just got hotter. Deep undercover with a sexy Russian spy.

    What a load of rubbish! A team of historians combed though decades of declassified documents not long ago and concluded that espionage had little to no impact on significant events and the course of history. It's all about posturing and we shouldn't be encouraging it by giving more money to these yobs. On the other hand we definitely should be encouraging more spies like Anna to come over and hang out...
    inversius
    • RE: The Cold War just got hotter. Deep undercover with a sexy Russian spy.

      @inversius:

      Uh huh. Tell that to the people who broke the Enigma code. Tell that to the people who worked to break the Japanese JN25 codes.

      Those are but two examples. You, and the "historians" you rode in on do not know what you're talking about.
      M.R. Kennedy
    • RE: The Cold War just got hotter. Deep undercover with a sexy Russian spy.

      @inversius <br><br>Ever heard of Sun Tzu? He wrote a bit about intelligence and I suspect that he would disagree about the importance of espionage. I suspect he knew more about intel than you do and he's been dead for about 2500 years.<br><br>If this cell has been monitored since 2004 then it's probably been active for a few years before. Maybe that's how W got elected...who knows how deep this goes.
      dennisfurr
    • Cave dwelling and beyond

      @inversius
      [i]A team of historians combed though decades of declassified documents not long ago and concluded that espionage had little to no impact on significant events and the course of history. [/i]

      It's about the only thing the English had over the Germans in WWII. As for its ultimate impact, that's always debatable, but let's put it this way: No government would dare leave home without it. That extends back to time immemorial, where Neanderthal spy dwellers no doubt did their thing from cave to cave. ;)

      As for Anna coming over to hang out, well... she is easy on the eyes... *doh!*
      klumper
    • RE: The Cold War just got hotter. Deep undercover with a sexy Russian spy.

      @inversius

      Agreed. Although espionage is also common in place one might think would be safe. Or else how could you explain Armaggeddon and Deep Impact showing off just weeks after another, if you conclude that it takes years to plan and stage a Hollywood flick.

      Another case is the WePad and the Cisco Cius. How would those people know what the iPad would look like without inside knowledge.

      Last, but not least, the iPhone 4 'leaks' in San Francisco and Vietnam.

      And, BTW, let David continue with his rants. He seems to be unaware that the U.S. traded the 11 spies for 4 american guys. Why so few? Did the U.S. had less active people, or were those 4 valued more than the 11 ones. One must never accuse the other of doing what one regularly does. Paranoia is just that...
      cosuna
  • What is this "friends" stuff?

    There are no friends in government or between governments.

    If you believe what's printed in the newspapers, the country that by far is conducting more espionage against the US government than any other is Israel. But of course, we aren't rounding up nests of Israeli spies. Why is that?

    Google "Israeli Art Students."
    HollywoodDog
    • RE: The Cold War just got hotter. Deep undercover with a sexy Russian spy.

      @HollywoodDog
      Probably because they have more influence in the great halls than the people supposedly running your country.
      Mike062
      • It's the tail wagging the dog in the USA

        And though the press goes to lengths to hide this fact, Israel's influence throughout our government, particularly at the federal level, is nothing short of criminal. Is it any wonder, with the billions upon billions we ship off to them every year! And for what? To turn a pack of well disguised spies loose on the benefactor host schmucks! How does that saying go, something about biting the hand that feeds you?

        With all that free annual jack from tax paying red, white and blue stiffs, they simply invest a healthy portion of it to buy and place (or sustain) the politicians they want into seats of influence and on both sides of the aisle, just so this privileged and absurd hand-out cycle repeats ad infinitum. Their purchased congressional brats assure that fact. It's a sham of the highest order, one that increasingly compromises our sovereignty.

        Naturally their kissin' cousin pals in Hollywood, a close (and closed) knit fraternity if there ever was one, see to it that very little of this gets publicized. The end result: Our stars and stripes fly permanently at half mast in the current age, just below - and in the shadow of - an ascendant Star of David.
        klumper
    • Age old tired libels trotted out again

      @HollywoodDog @Mike062 @klumper<br>You guys are so enamoured of Satan and his Muslim lackies that you wouldn't know truth if it bit you on your posterior! Newsflash: the Jews aren't the problem, their enemies like you are. And your one-worlder mates like Obamessiah, the UN, the "western media", and every other Jew-hating group around the world. But don't worry, you'll have it all "explained" to you in short order. A pity most of you won't survive the "explanation"...
      naibeeru
  • The Russians Are Still Our Enemies

    Their mentality is still the same. Trying to rebuild the Tsarist/Communist empires to cover all of Eastern Europe, parts of Western Europe, and eventually the pacific.

    Building nuclear reactors in Iran. Selling all sorts of "defensive" actually offensive weapons to Iran, Syria, and any other troublemaker around the world.

    This is a friend?
    Albee_Freeoneday
    • RE: The Cold War just got hotter. Deep undercover with a sexy Russian spy.

      @Albee_Freeoneday
      It's called Capitalism. Not that they weren't doing this when they were blatantly Socialist. Got to keep the wheels of the Military/Industrial Machine turning.
      P.S. I'm not sure if you can conjoin Tsarist and Communist. It would seem to be contradictory.
      Mike062
      • RE: The Cold War just got hotter. Deep undercover with a sexy Russian spy.

        @Mike062 I think the Tsarist/Communist blend was meant illustrate a geographic claim, not an ideological one.
        spin498
    • RE: The Cold War just got hotter. Deep undercover with a sexy Russian spy.

      @Albee_Freeoneday <br><br>Russia is still a superpower, perhaps more of a regional superpower but it's a BIG region. They are also an emerging economic power. Why wouldn't they participate in the global arms market, because it's not in the interest of the US? This doesn't make the Russians enemies, just competitors.<br><br>When the Soviets WERE enemies of the US we still were heartbroken when they lost that sub and it's crew. The same men that would have dropped them like a bad habit in war would have lined up for as far as the eye could see just to help save those submariners. That's respect.<br><br>Blind hatred is immature and foolish. This way of thinking may still consider the Germans or Japanese enemies when in fact they are great and valued allies and partners. How much time must pass before we get past the old Cold War mentality?
      dennisfurr
  • RE: The Cold War just got hotter. Deep undercover with a sexy Russian spy.

    @HollywoodDog
    It's a good way to make the CinC look bad without getting your sorry butt fired. Too bad McChrystal didn't use this runaround. Lost a good man on that RS fiasco.
    As far as a security threat I'm sure these "spies" gave their handlers the bare minimum and a lot of BS just so they could live the life of Reilly in the good ol' USA. I wonder how Siberia will be after a comfortable life in the States. If I was the three letter agencies involved I would of flipped them and used them to my benefit. But then again, apparently their tradecraft was seriously lacking.
    Mike062
  • RE: The Cold War just got hotter. Deep undercover with a sexy Russian spy.

    @Mike062<br><br>I don't think they caught because their tradecraft was bad... I think they were shopped by their handler. Did you notice the news item that the "ringleader" was caught in Cyprus and then released on bail. I think the first plan was for ringleader, turned by the US, to "escape" back to Russia. The escape plan didn't work as expected, and he got arrested by the Cypriot authorities - who did actually need to be looking for him to make the escape look authentic - but now the US has asked for him to be released so that he can be "disappear" while on bail and reappear with an assumed identity in Iowa.<br><br>The FBI new about the ring of 10 years, I read. They were feeding the ring all sorts of garbage, and probably ran it 'til they felt it was time to their double agent back to Russia.
    snberk341
  • Handler

    @HollywoodDog ... sounds like the culprit alright. Not a bad gig: convince the Russians you can run a network of deep cover spies, then sell them to the US for big money. He'd better take care to order his tea without pulonoium.
    HollywoodDog
  • Of course they're de-friending now

    don't want to let the FBI think they're Russian spies, too!
    John Zern
  • A story like this

    reminds me of why I'm so proud to be an American. -And- a champion of American corporations and the federal government with their dutiful functionaries (where I'm even prouder). Hot diggety!
    klumper
  • International Students?

    "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."

    Where exactly did you learn that international students get access to secret research projects? You might want to check your sources again.
    As an international student at a university department where more than three quarters of funding comes from defense projects, I know how international students are not allowed access. And yes, I have contacts at other universities and know the situation to be the same there too.
    So do you see what you have accomplished with a single wayward line there?

    On a side note, that above quoted line sounds as if the universities are doing a favor to the students by bringing them in. We all know the know the financial motives behind this act- intl. student fees, state grants et al.
    portofmocha
    • RE: The Cold War just got hotter. Deep undercover with a sexy Russian spy.

      @portofmocha Actually, I have excellent sources, some of which I can let you read, even. Here are a few things you can read that'll get you started:

      http://usspi.org/how-to-save-jobs/research-resources/
      David Gewirtz