An unreported CIA disaster has come to light due to a recent report from Yahoo News.
According to 11 former intelligence and government officials, from 2009 to 2013, dozens of U.S. spies were killed after using a flawed messaging system.
The messaging system was used to communicate with other field agents but it was compromised after foreign foes were able to hack the system via Google.
“The Internet-based communications platform was first used in the Middle East to communicate with soldiers in war zones and had not been intended for widespread use but due to its ease of use and efficacy, it was adopted by agents despite its lack of sophistication, the sources claimed,” writes The Telegraph.
Apparently, Iran discovered the secret websites being used by American spies by using Google as a search tool.
Iran was able to then infiltrate the CIA spy network and find the spies that were part of a 30-strong network, many of were then imprisoned or executed.
A former defense contractor warned CIA authorities in 2008 about the messaging system and said it was too vulnerable.
“The design and maintenance of the system is flawed,” said John Reidy, the defense contractor at the time.
Allegedly, Iran and China traded secrets so then China was also able to take down a U.S. spy network.
“Meanwhile in China 30 agents working for the US were executed by the government after compromising the spy network using a similar means. Beijing had managed to break into a second temporary communications system, splintered from the initial platform and were able to see every single agent the CIA had placed in the country,” writes The Telegraph.
Fortunately, an agent in Russia was warned about these takedowns and was able to shut down the communication channels.
“We’re still dealing with the fallout,” said one former national security official to Yahoo News. “Dozens of people around the world were killed because of this.”
One former senior intelligence official was the situation was “catastrophic.”
The CIA has struggled with hiding and dealing with the internal backlash of this failure, especially since the agency was aware that the system was flawed.
“Our biggest insider threat is our own institution,” said an official.
Editor’s note: This was a major disaster by the CIA that could have been avoided. It looks like it was a “security by obscurity” strategy, which can be used in a pinch for short-term operations. But as a long term system, it statistically GUARANTEES discovery and failure. The CIA should have assumed that any digital system is vulnerable and would get hacked at some point.
As a former intelligence officer, I knew many of the people in the who developed covert communications systems. They worked in the field, they knew the field environment and they knew the capabilities of their enemy. They also had veto power over the operations people who might be stupid enough to attempt to use an unsecure system in the field. They would NEVER have made this mistake.
Unfortunately, the CIA appears to have rolled all of this into run-of-the-mill data processing operations. These are very smart people with absolutely no sense when it comes to covert operations, where peoples lives are at risk, and the enemy has unlimited resources to discover your agents. The entire expertise, as I knew it, appears to have been lost.
This is worse than Aldrich Ames, this is worse the Robert Hanson.