'Hard target espionage in the information era: new challenges for the second oldest profession'
Reliable and well positioned human sources are essential for the US and its allies in an era of declining relations and rising tensions with China and Russia. The recruitment and handling of spies is essential if the US and its allies are to cool relations carefully, enact sound policy and curb the relentless intelligence operations of their adversaries. However, despite the superficially more open borders of China and Russia, technological advances have made the threat of street surveillance to the recruitment and handling of agents today as acute as it was in Cold War “denied area” states. This paper assesses the degree of street surveillance in contemporary Russia and China – including the impact of biometrics and online data history on the defensibility of cover and the severity of advanced CCTV networks – and the solutions intelligence agencies might adopt to address these problems. Despite the possibilities cyberspace offers espionage – for instance, by reducing the need for face to face meetings between intelligence officers and agents – the paper establishes the limitations of technological answers and argues that Western intelligence officers are entering a new era of Moscow and Beijing Rules in which they are more essential than ever and yet need to operate with absolute caution.
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