Spies use of Social Networks

The FBI's arrest of 11 Russian spies is hot news and most of the attention is going to Anna Chapman.

Alleged Russian agent Anna Chapman could have warmed up any Cold War night


Anna Chapman, alleged Russian spy, posts photos online

Alleged Russian spy, Anna Chapman, became an instant Web sensation following the release of photos posted on the Russian social-networking Web site "Odnoklassniki," or Classmates.

By Monica Hesse

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 1, 2010

There were 11 alleged Russian agents arrested this week, under accusations that they'd been living as Americans while reporting back to the mother country.


  • But mostly we care about the hot one.

Ever since photos of Anna Chapman began circulating online late Tuesday, the Internet at large has been foaming, frothing, fanatic for details about the reported 28-year-old secret agent/Maxim model look-alike who specialized in sultry-eyed, pouty-lipped, come-hither stares. Da, da,da!

CNET news has a post on Facebook effect and spies.

A Cold War tale reheated for Facebook

by Caroline McCarthy

A time traveler from the 1960s would find many of today's headlines completely befuddling. Something called theiPhone? Threats from an amorphous, stateless band of terrorists? Reality television? A lot has changed, for sure.

But accused spies for the Kremlin--that's something our unstuck-in-time explorer would thoroughly recognize. Except, of course, when he heard everybody talking about foreign concepts like Facebook and LinkedIn.

Should a spy be on Facebook?

But for a young secret agent like Anna Chapman or Mikhail Semenko, the absence of a Facebook profile could trigger suspicion. If they're going to be like everybody else, of course they're going to use social networks.

Why spying is important.

Espionage is a fact of international life and always has been. The first spy manual, The Art of War, was written by Sun Tzu some 2,500 years ago. Espionage fills a vital niche; a successful operation can provide insight into intentions, plans, and human dynamics that cannot be gleaned from intercepted communications or pictures from space.

It is safe to assume that since the end of World War II there has never been a day that the Soviet Union or Russia was not spying on the United States, or vice versa. Espionage will continue, even as the United States and Russia work out a new modus vivendi.

Data Centers is a competitive industry, and as much as people try to keep things secret. With public disclosures it is not hard to piece together information.  Rich Miller posted on Facebook's 60,000 server count on June 28, 2010.

Facebook Server Count: 60,000 or More

June 28th, 2010 : Rich Miller

It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes a PowerPoint slide can tell the story of thousands of servers.

That was the case with a presentation from Facebook’s Tom Cook at last week’s  Velocity 2010 conference, which depicted the growth of the company’s server footprint. Designed to illustrate Facebook’s insatiable need for more servers to support its 400 million users, the chart didn’t include any numbers, seeking not to reveal the actual server count.

Dates Provide A Clue
But the chart included dates, which allows us to do some math to fill in the blanks. In a presentation in November 2009, Facebook vice president of technology Jeff Rothschild disclosed that the company had more than 30,000 servers. Cook’s chart shows a brief plateau in Facebook’s server growth at about that time, followed by a sharp upward spike in the growth line through the first quarter of 2010 that effectively doubles the total number of servers.

That suggests that Facebook now has 60,000 or more servers. The sharp acceleration in Facebook’s server growth in late 2009 also helps explain the company’s move to lease large chunks of data center space in northern Virginia and Silicon Valley in March. The growth spurt occurred after Facebook announced plans to construct its own data center in Prineville, Oregon.

Putting together the pieces that are public is what I wrote about in this post.

Mar 09, 2010

A different interpretation of “Open Source” in an Intelligence Analysis scenario that defines how GreenM3 works public data

I ran across the term Open Source Intelligence.

Open source intelligence (OSINT) is a form of intelligence collection management that involves finding, selecting, and acquiring information from publicly available sources and analyzing it to produce actionable intelligence.

This description fits what I have been telling others about the various data center sources of information.

“If there is a public publication of information, we are open to look at and provide feedback on the value we see in the information.”

Which is a pretty good description of how this blog has been run, commenting on public available information.

BTW, the use of social networks is not anything new.  Three Days of the Condor is about a group of CIA researchers who did Open Source Intelligence - "I just read books"

Joe Turner (Robert Redford) is a CIA employee who works in a clandestine office in New York City. He is not a field agent, and indeed bristles at Agency discipline; among other things, he wonders why he can't tell people what he does for a living and notes "I trust some people ... that's a problem." His job is in the OSINT field: he has to read books, newspapers, and magazines from around the world, looking for hidden meanings and new ideas. As part of his duties, Turner files a report to CIA headquarters on a low-quality thriller novel his office has been reading, pointing out strange plot elements therein, and the unusual assortment of languages in which the book has been translated (Turkish but not French, Arabic but not Russian or German, Dutch, and Spanish).

Robert Redford's character says.

I work for the CIA. I'm not a spy. I just read books. We read everything that's published in the world, and we-- we feed the plots-- dirty tricks, codes into a computer, and the computer checks against actual CIA plans and operations. I look for leaks, new ideas. We read adventures and novels and journals. I-- I can-Who'd invent a job like that? I-- Listen! People are trying to kill me!

Here is a video clip from Three Days of the Condor.

Behind all of this is the technique of using public information with a bunch of people who are thinking of questions others don't ask.  There are tons of experts in the CIA.  There are tons in the data center industry.  Yet can the experts anticipate the unexpected?

Taking a bunch of people who look at what is going on in the world allows you to be more creative in figuring out the questions that should be asked.

If you are a spy you need cover your tracks.

There are perils to the process. One source here said that analysts who engage in searches without masking their origin can lead to foreign governments or companies cutting off access to web sites or to people involved. The problem? Some analysts at NSA, CIA and other alphabet soup agencies forget to mask their IP addresses and the times at which they are searching. Chinese, Russian and other savvy operators can check time stamps, for example. If a search occurs during American working hours, it’s a pretty good bet that it’s an American source looking for the information.
Read more: http://www.dodbuzz.com/2009/10/20/open-source-intel-use-soars/#ixzz0svCx1zvG

This technique makes it easier to think of what is a green data center.  Which is more than a low PUE.