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Well, given that it's the KGB, the manuals obviously date from before the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union. Still, those would be fascinating.
For those interested in this sort of thing, I recommend the works of former GRU agent Victor Suvorov, esp. "Inside Soviet Military Intelligence". It reads like a training workshop for beginner spies. You can read it for free here.
You're better off reading the whole article on that page, but quite a few of the manuals are apparently still in use due to universal relevance. Kind of like T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom when talking about the development of unconventional warfare.
Edited by TerminusEst on Jul 24th 2019 at 12:33:54 PM
Well, the basics never change, and I imagine that new recruits are instructed to master the more primitive techniques, like dead-letter boxes, before being allowed to rely on more sophisticated methods, like encrypted email. This would be esp. true in underdeveloped countries, where access to digital services would be unreliable. Enough has changed, though, that no one is relying on those old manuals by themselves. The Russians now specialize in social media manipulation, for example.
I wouldn't say they specialise in it, as much as they're following the general plan that Gerasimov has been yelling about for years now; every action including kinetic has to have a information "payload". GRU is still its hamfisted self, which is apparently very stereotypical for them.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Edited by TerminusEst on Jul 24th 2019 at 2:16:00 AM
Looks like Bellingcat's getting targeted by GRU:
From AFP News.
The phishing attack, which sought to dupe users into sharing their Proton Mail passwords, was aimed at journalists from the award-winning website Bellingcat, which helped identify the agents who poisoned former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Britain.
Geneva-based Proton Mail said in a statement that "the evidence (along with independent third-party assessments) seem to suggest an attack of Russian origin."
The company's chief executive Andy Yen told AFP that the operation "was one of the best-run phishing attacks we have ever seen."
Bellingcat journalist Christo Grozev, who led the site's work on the Skripal case, said he had no doubt Russia's GRU military intelligence unit was responsible and that it marked "a quantum leap" in terms of their technical sophistication.
"It was very convincing," he told AFP, noting that no Bellingcat reporters gave up their passwords.
- End-to-end encryption -
Proton Mail, which describes itself as the world's most secure email provider, has become increasingly popular with journalists and others who handle sensitive information because user communications are protected by end-to-end encryption.
The Harvard-educated Yen, who worked at Europe's nuclear research lab CERN for five years before founding Proton Mail, told AFP that the company could not read users' emails even if it wanted to — in clear contrast with Google's Gmail.
The phishing attacks against Bellingcat reporters occurred this week, with "emails sent to the targeted users claiming to be from the Proton Mail team, asking the targets to enter their... login credentials," the company said.
Grozev said that despite his technical savvy and awareness that he was a target, he "would have been fooled" if not for prior warning from a contact who had received a similar phishing email earlier this month.
While the assault on Bellingcat journalists was concentrated over the past few days, Grozen claimed that multiple investigators and researchers from other organisations that work on Russia have received phishing emails in their Proton Mail accounts since April.
Yen told AFP that "putting a precise start date as to when other Russia journalists began to be targeted is a bit more complex and not something that we can confirm with full confidence right now."
- 'Has to be investigated' -
Yen said that Proton Mail has alerted the Swiss Federal Police and the government's computer system security office, MELANI, about the events this week.
The company has not yet received any indication that an investigation will be launched, Yen said, noting that he was not optimistic the perpetrators would face justice, in part because Moscow was likely to protect them.
Proton Mail however is conducting its own investigation.
But Grozen said the Swiss had a duty to act, given that its .ch domain was used to carry out the phishing operation.
"It is essentially a crime within the digital territory of Switzerland," he said, stressing that the entities who registered the malicious .ch websites are "traceable for (Swiss) authorities".
Swiss Federal Police and MELANI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bellingcat, a highly regarded Britain-based investigative website, has used open-source technology to break a series of stories, notably concerning Russia, including major revelations in the downing of MH 17 flight over eastern Ukraine, which has also been linked to Russia's GRU intelligence service.
Originally in Swedish. Put this through Google translate and it will be pretty good:
Operation Uppsala: Lauri Solehmainen spied on the Soviet Union on behalf of the United States and Norway
Lauri Solehmainen is an unknown Finnish hero, whose efforts have been kept secret and marginalized. Like about twenty other Finnish men, in the early 1950s he came to be a game button in the game the great powers fought for the dominion of Europe.
Unfortunately, Finland was a wedge between East and West, but from Lauri Solehmainen's point of view, the new geopolitical situation offered a welcome chance to resume the role of war hero and spy.
Edited by TerminusEst on Jul 28th 2019 at 6:47:32 AM
Wow. I have a proto mail account.
There's a BBC Persian-filed report on a man accused of conducting espionage on behalf of Mossad before he was cleared by the IRGC when the officer realized that the testimony didn't match with the information he got.
Beijing announced that an Australian man of Chinese descent was arrested by public security for conducting espionage activities according to AFP reporters:
An Australian academic has been arrested in China on suspicion of "espionage", foreign minister Marise Payne said Tuesday, in a development sure to deepen tensions between the two countries.
Yang Hengjun had been held in Beijing for several months without charge, but Payne said the author and scholar had been formally arrested on 23 August.
Yang, an outspoken pro-democracy activist, was detained in January shortly after making a rare return to China from the United States.
"If Dr Yang is being held for his political beliefs, he should be released," Payne said, expressing concern about "harsh conditions". "We expect, that basic standards of justice and procedural fairness are met."
China's near silence about Yang's fate and the refusal to grant consular access has been a point of friction in relations that have markedly deteriorated in recent months.
There is a growing concern in Australia about Beijing's influence on domestic politics and growing military clout in the Pacific.
On Monday, an official corruption inquiry heard that a well-connected Chinese property developer delivered Aus$100,000 in cash to the opposition Labor Party's headquarters before a 2015 election.
The man, Huang Xiangmo, was effectively banned from returning to Australia in February.
Australia has traditionally been keen to avoid friction with its biggest trading partner, but Payne's statement was unusually strongly worded.
"Dr Yang has been held in Beijing in harsh conditions without charge for more than seven months," she said.
"Since that time, China has not explained the reasons for Dr Yang's detention, nor has it allowed him access to his lawyers or family visits."
Payne said she had raised the case five times with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, in person and via letters.
Yang had initially been held in "residential surveillance at a designated location" before being moved to "criminal detention", his lawyer told AFP.
An astronomer takes the photo of the Iranian Safir SLV launch accident tweeted by Trump and uses it to extrapolate the US spy satellite activity leading up to its capture.
US offered millions in cash to captain of Iranian tanker
The Financial Times reported that Brian Hook, the State Department pointman on Iran, sent emails to captain Akhilesh Kumar in which he offered "good news" of millions in US cash to live comfortably if he steered the Adrian Darya 1 to a country where it could be seized.
"We have seen the Financial Times article and can confirm that the details are accurate," a State Department spokeswoman said.
"We have conducted extensive outreach to several ship captains as well as shipping companies warning them of the consequences of providing support to a foreign terrorist organization," she said, referring to Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards.
The Adrian Darya 1 was held for six weeks by the British overseas territory of Gibraltar on suspicion that it was set to deliver oil from Iran to its main Arab ally Syria — a violation of European Union sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad's iron-fisted regime.
Gibraltar released the ship, formerly called the Grace 1, on August 18 over US protests after receiving written assurances that the vessel would not head to countries sanctioned by the European Union.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif mocked Hook's initiative as he pointed to the Financial Times story.
"Having failed at piracy, the US resorts to outright blackmail — deliver us Iran's oil and receive several million dollars or be sanctioned yourself," Zarif tweeted.
State Department chief spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus hit back using Zarif's exact words, accusing Iran of "outright blackmail" with its call for $15 billion from European powers to be paid back from Iran's future oil sales.
Iran says that, if it receives the credit line, it will come back into full compliance with a 2015 nuclear accord from which US President Donald Trump withdrew.
US authorities said that Kumar, 43, took over as captain in Gibraltar. After he apparently did not respond to the US offer, the Treasury Department on Friday imposed sanctions both on the ship and on Kumar himself, freezing any assets he may have in the United States and criminalizing any US financial transactions with him.
"Any US or foreign persons that engage in certain transactions with designated persons or entities may themselves be exposed to sanctions," the first State Department spokeswoman said.
The Adrian Darya 1 has been elusive since sailing off from Gibraltar, with monitors reporting that it has been moving in the eastern Mediterranean near Lebanon.
The United States also announced Wednesday that it was imposing sanctions on a shipping network alleged to be tied to the Revolutionary Guards — and offering up to $15 million for information that could disrupt the unit's finances.
The shipping network sold more than $500 million this spring, mostly in Syria, according to the Treasury Department.
After pulling from the nuclear accord, the United States has unilaterally threatened sanctions aimed at ending all oil sales by Iran in a bid to diminish the clerical regime's regional influence.
...Can we just take a moment to appreciate how the guy who used phishing-esque tactics to seize a ship is called Brian Hook?
US extracted top spy from inside Russia in 2017
A person directly involved in the discussions said that the removal of the Russian was driven, in part, by concerns that President Donald Trump and his administration repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy.
The decision to carry out the extraction occurred soon after a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. The intelligence, concerning ISIS in Syria, had been provided by Israel.
The disclosure to the Russians by the President, though not about the Russian spy specifically, prompted intelligence officials to renew earlier discussions about the potential risk of exposure, according to the source directly involved in the matter.
At the time, then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo told other senior Trump administration officials that too much information was coming out regarding the covert source, known as an asset. An extraction, or "exfiltration" as such an operation is referred to by intelligence officials, is an extraordinary remedy when US intelligence believes an asset is in immediate danger.
A US official said before the secret operation there was media speculation about the existence of such a covert source, and such coverage or public speculation poses risks to the safety of anyone a foreign government suspects may be involved. This official did not identify any public reporting to that effect at the time of this decision and CNN could not find any related reference in media reports.
Asked for comment, Brittany Bramell, the CIA director of public affairs, told CNN: "CNN's narrative that the Central Intelligence Agency makes life-or-death decisions based on anything other than objective analysis and sound collection is simply false. Misguided speculation that the President's handling of our nation's most sensitive intelligence—which he has access to each and every day—drove an alleged exfiltration operation is inaccurate."
A spokesperson for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to comment. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said, "CNN's reporting is not only incorrect, it has the potential to put lives in danger."
The removal happened at a time of wide concern in the intelligence community about mishandling of intelligence by Trump and his administration. Those concerns were described to CNN by five sources who served in the Trump administration, intelligence agencies and Congress.
Those concerns continued to grow in the period after Trump's Oval Office meeting with Kislyak and Lavrov. Weeks after the decision to extract the spy, in July 2017, Trump met privately with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Hamburg and took the unusual step of confiscating the interpreter's notes. Afterward, intelligence officials again expressed concern that the President may have improperly discussed classified intelligence with Russia, according to an intelligence source with knowledge of the intelligence community's response to the Trump-Putin meeting.
Knowledge of the Russian covert source's existence was highly restricted within the US government and intelligence agencies. According to one source, there was "no equal alternative" inside the Russian government, providing both insight and information on Putin.
The source was considered the highest level source for the US inside the Kremlin, high up in the national security infrastructure, according to the source familiar with the matter and a former senior intelligence official.
According to CNN's sources, the spy had access to Putin and could even provide images of documents on the Russian leader's desk.
The covert source provided information for more than a decade, according to the sources, and an initial effort to extract the spy, after exposure concerns, was rebuffed by the informant.
CNN is reporting the additional information about the covert source who was extracted from Russia in 2017. The information, which adds further understanding to the value of the informant, was initially withheld by CNN but was subsequently reported by the New York Times Monday evening.
The secret removal of the high-level Russian asset has left the US without one of its key sources on the inner workings of the Kremlin and the plans and thinking of the Russian president at a time when tensions between the two nations have been growing. The US intelligence community considers Russia one of the two greatest threats to US national security, along with China.
"The impact would be huge because it is so hard to develop sources like that in any denied area, particularly Russia, because the surveillance and security there is so stringent," a former senior intelligence official told CNN. "You can't reacquire a capability like that overnight."
The decision to pull the asset out of Russia was the culmination of months of mounting fear within the intelligence community.
At the end of the Obama administration, US intelligence officials had already expressed concerns about the safety of this spy and other Russian assets, given the length of their cooperation with the US, according to the former senior intelligence official.
Those concerns grew in early 2017 after the US intelligence community released its public report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election, which said Putin himself ordered the operation. The intelligence community also shared a classified version of the report with the incoming Trump administration, and it included highly protected details on the sources behind the intelligence. Senior US intelligence officials considered extracting at least one Russian asset at the time but did not do so, according to the former senior intelligence official.
In the first months of his administration, Trump's handling of classified intelligence further concerned intelligence officials. Ultimately, they decided to launch the difficult operation to remove an asset who had been working for the US for years.
The President was informed in advance of the extraction, along with a small number of senior officials. Details of the extraction itself remain secret and the whereabouts of the asset today are unknown to CNN.
As a Vampire the Masquerade LARPer I admire this level of Suspiciously Specific Denial for the purposes of shade.
Only an intelligence operative (or someone playing a high ranking Camarilla NPC) would use this amount of verbal misdirection to say "That's not the full picture, but you're not wrong."
Moscow responded with “the media is hyping things up” and the suspected mole has left the Kremlin for a few years.
As a rule of thumb, if the CIA says they didn’t do something, they probably did in fact do that thing. If they say they never did something and they have no plans to ever do it, they’re probably doing it as they speak.
And if they say "What thing-huh?" Then they didnt do it (because they didnt know it was a thing). This happens to the CIA more often than they want to admit.
RCMP arrested a civilian employee for committing violations under the Security of Information Act and the Criminal Code.
Charges include unauthorised communication of special operational information", possessing a device or software "useful for concealing the content of information or for surreptitiously communicating, obtaining or retaining information", and breach of trust by a public officer.
In the wake of "The Spy" being shown on Netflix (and I'm almost done watching it), there's some question on how Eli Cohen was arrested by Syrian Mukhabarat (GID).
Snowden gets an interview in the Daily Show.
"Exciting/intersting" news regarding the Skirpal suspects.
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