In less than half a decade, politico-military intelligence will become commercially available on the Internet. It will be downloadable and delivered fully secure, and should the consumer so desire, customised. This is not a fanciful prediction, but is based on emerging trends. If there is money in selling data and ideas, then why not hard intelligence? During the Kargil war, sleuths from
’s intelligence agencies had gone shopping for intelligence to
; this was so front-paged by a mainstream newspaper.
has been a paradise for intelligence shoppers. Since time immemorial, international spies, double-dealers, and more recently hackers, crackers, cypherpunks et al have a presence in
. During the two world wars the notoriety of
had spread far and wide. Spies could be hired and intelligence swapped, peddled, contracted for, and procured for a consideration. Intelligence gathering reached its acme during the Cold War. Spying from the sky, radio interception and microfilming were added to the trading list.
Now intelligence is on the Internet. With the advent of the World Wide Web and a growth in investigative media, intelligence has undergone a sea change. Many sites, devoted to intelligence, have sprung up. Agencies tout home pages and make no secret of their charter. Whoever heard of the National Security Agency (NSA) or Project Echelon, say a decade back? A
joke described the NSA as “No Such Agency;” today it has a site to flaunt. The NSA information security or INFOSEC advertises products and services to protect classified systems against interception and unauthorized access.
provides an initiation into the very real world of some of the most secretive intelligence organizations of the
. Then there is the British Security Services page, profiling a comprehensive and highly informative account of British intelligence agencies and facilities. Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) in
has a home page of its own and so does Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) of
has much to learn from these two agencies, particularly the way they organize networks and databases, and use supercomputing for siganalysis and cryptanalysis. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service is a model for openness. Their Web site provides public domain intelligence and details of personnel and budget figures, which no other intelligence agency dares.
Open Source Solutions is an international public clearing house The site is a treasure trove of hard information contained in the proceedings of their annual symposia and newsletters. Crypt Newsletter is a magazine which presents case studies, analyses, snapshots on cryptopolitics, cryptopolicies, computer crime and information warfare. Other sites of interest to the intelligence fraternity - gatherers, analyzers and consumers alike, are Intelligence Online, AntiOnline, Infowar, Strategic Intelligence, Covert Action Quarterly Intelligence Web Link, and Sources eJournal to name a few from the scores visited. To crown it all, the Federation of American Scientists Web site maintained by John Pike, which is frequently in the news publishes data about the nuclear facilities and sites in
The Internet has given new molars to the second oldest profession. The most popular sites are run by the agencies, some in their own name; others as proxies. Then there are political groups and social hacktevists out to make a point. Many hackers have broken into classified vaults and are willing to sell their loot. Nuclear secrets are in the open. A telling case is that described in the Cox Report. A large market for security products has come up. If one has the credentials and money, one could get half meter aerial imagery. Two
firms, Earth Watch Corp and Space Imaging EOSAT, have entered the market. So have the Israelis and the French. John Pike writes, “Every bad guy in the world is going to be buying these pictures.” President Clinton’s “shutter control” may not work.
Stealing and selling commercial secrets is another lucrative business According to an article by Dell Jones in the February 1999 issue of US Today, entitled, "FBI: Spies cost U.S. firms $2b a month," business secrets are on sale. He quotes FBI Director Louis Freeh to suggest that “the
companies are under economic attack.” He states that 23 countries are trying to steal trade secrets and other intellectual property; that this is the most severe threat to national security since the Cold War.
It is hoped that the newly created Task Force on Intelligence spends time on finding out what is happening in the cyber world and how the intelligence agencies of other countries function, before they reach conclusions. But in the three months given to them, they may not be able to even “mouse” the tip of the iceberg.