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British Intelligence Placed Undercover Operatives in Tech Companies

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 8 comments
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The National Security Agency (NSA) and its British counterpart the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have done just about everything in their power to intercept communications in the digital sphere.

According to a report in The Guardian, they have also placed a number of flesh-and-blood spies in tech companies who are funneling information back to the agencies. The newspaper reported yesterday (Sept. 5) that GCHQ established a Humint Operation Team (HOT — "humint" stands for "human intelligence") to monitor the world's biggest telecom companies from the inside.

MORE: Inside the Black Budget: 5 Things NSA May Be Working On

Although information on the HOT is understandably scarce, they purportedly take positions in large companies — Google, Microsoft, Apple and similar companies are all likely contenders — and report their findings back to the GCHQ. As the GCHQ and the NSA collaborate, this data likely makes its way back to the American government as well.

"[The HOT is] responsible for identifying, recruiting and running covert agents in the global telecommunications industry," a GCHQ document says, according to The Guardian. "This enables GCHQ to tackle some of its most challenging targets."

A common rumor in the information security community holds that many large telecom companies have other workers from the NSA and GCHQ in plain sight. Government representatives end up within companies, placed there quietly but openly, to supervise whatever activities they can and report back to government agents — so goes the story.

At present, the spies within these organizations are still hidden, but that could change. The report could theoretically place some of these agents' positions in jeopardy, so the public may learn more about their exact functions if and when their identities come to light.

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  • 0 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 7, 2013 12:32 AM
    This is news, but not a surprise
  • 0 Hide
    doive1231 , September 7, 2013 12:37 AM
    And to think there's millions on the dole queue who can't get jobs.
  • 0 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 7, 2013 12:55 AM
    Fairplay Doive, if you are smart enough to be employed by GCHQ then you can probably do a great job at a tech company and the millions lining the dole queue are likely incapable of getting a job at Google anyway
  • Display all 8 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    killerclick , September 7, 2013 2:15 AM
    If I find a rat in my company, I'll be taking them on a one way trip to the basement incinerator. Which reminds me: check with maintenance if we have a basement incinerator.
  • 2 Hide
    grumpigeek , September 7, 2013 2:58 AM
    We were warned:

    There is a scene in Skyfall where James Bond asks the young Mi5 computer guru if he can crack the encryption being used by the bad guy. The young guy replies " I should be able to, I invented it".
  • 0 Hide
    sjc1017 , September 7, 2013 3:03 AM
    They ought to try placing lower class kids from ex-industrial regions in these companies, then they'd really find out how hard infiltration is for many in the UK!
  • 2 Hide
    rwinches , September 7, 2013 5:09 AM
    So they were doing what Snowden did?
    Oh, but it's do as I say not as I do.
  • 1 Hide
    Warsaw , September 7, 2013 8:23 AM
    This is getting a little ridiculous, and by that I am going light saying it. The American people need to wake up and see/hear/speak on what happens. As soon as the Patriot Act first came about I just do not understand how not a lot of people made a fuss about it, in my opinion this is what started the snowball effect. We really need to stand up, abolish the Patriot Act and all of these additional "national security" interests that don't seem to necessarily seem in the best interest of people. When is it OK to spy on our own people? I for one really want to make a change, for if this continues I really do see the US going towards a police state. Sad, sad, sad that most people do not care about things such as this since "I don't do anything wrong" attitude. It's not whether you do something or not, it's standing up for what's right vs. wrong.
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