Spy

Why Do Ordinary People Commit Acts of Espionage?

Political ideology and money serve as motivators for some people to commit acts of espionage, but they’re not the only factors involved.

By Jerad W. ALEXANDER

In mid-July, 2018, Mariia Butina, a 29-year-old assistant to the Russian central bank and long-time Vladimir Putin ally Alexander Torshin, was arrested in Washington, D.C., on a charge of “conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government,” according to the U.S. Justice Department. Per the affidavit, Butina was allegedly involved in an operation lead by officials within the Russian government to infiltrate the Republican party, including members of the Trump campaign, and the National Rifle Association, for the purposes of aligning right-wing political interests with similar interests in Russia. Butina’s actions dovetailed with continued efforts by Russian operatives to commit cyber espionage to influence U.S. elections.

According to the affidavit, two American citizens provided Butina intelligence and guidance on her efforts in the United States.

 
MI5, the intelligence agency of the United Kingdom, defines espionage as “the process of obtaining information that is not normally publicly available, using human sources (agents) or technical means (like hacking into computer systems). It may also involve seeking to influence decision-makers and opinion-formers to benefit the interests of a foreign power.” As Butina and countless others throughout history, such as spies like Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, have discovered, espionage is a dangerous game, one that can lead to imprisonment or even death. What motivates people to commit acts of espionage is as important as the ramifications of their actions.

Naturally, simple ideology serves as a motivator to commit espionage, but it’s not the singular cause. According to a Spring 2016 article of The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies, ideology “is adopted by an individual to the degree that it reflects the individual’s ego. In that sense, an ideology is like another motivation – money – in that it serves as a vehicle for the individual to express a personal value or belief; an ideology is chosen in order to confirm conscious or unconscious beliefs the individual has already internalized. In the case of espionage, a particular ideology may serve as either the actual motivation for a spy to breach the trust placed in them or simply as a means of rationalizing that behavior.”

A Combination of Factors


Three concurrent elements need to exist within an individual to make them prone to acts of espionage — a personality dysfunction, personal crisis and opportunity.

According to Dr. Ursula Wilder, a clinical psychologist with the Central Intelligence Agency, four personality elements are essential to the entry into espionage: psychopathy, narcissism, immaturity, and grandiosity.

“A psychopathic person is a person whose approach to reality is ruthless and cold,” she stated in an interview at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. “They have no conscience, or they have very limited capacity to feel guilt. So, their whole approach to life is predatory. They’re excitement seeking. They love to con people. It’s a game. This is all they can do to connect with other human beings. So that kind of person will commit espionage either flat-out for self-interest or because it’s fun, or both.”

“The next is narcissism,” she explained. “A narcissistic person is fundamentally ego-centric. They can only experience the world with themselves at the center. They are very much needy for and will provoke circumstances that will permit them to be at the center of attention. They believe that what they need, want and desire is the truth. They will get greedy for attention. That kind of person will commit espionage as a grab for fame. Someone like that will commit espionage because it makes them feel big and important.”

Regarding immaturity, Wilder explained an individual prone to commit acts of espionage (in comparison to a professional intelligence agent), either for or against their nation, is “an adult who can only function as an adolescent. These people live their lives in a blend of fact and fantasy. They do have a conscience, they can feel deep guilt afterwards, but fantasy is much more real to them than it is to adults who are grounded to reality, so to them committing espionage is a bit of a game, a fantasy, and online they have this illusion that if they do it online, if they just turn off the machine it goes away. They have a fantasy about the implications of their actions, and although on some level they might grasp the reality of it, it’s not real to them. The grandiosity applies to all three.”

An individual must be up against some form of personal crisis that produces distress. According to a paper released by the CIA titled “Why Spy?”, a survey of agency employees “identified emotional instability related to ambition, anger leading to a need for revenge, feelings of being unrecognized and unrewarded, and loneliness as the top vulnerabilities on the road to espionage. They ranked such problem behaviors as drug abuse and illicit sex as second, and various mental crises or stresses brought on by debt, work issues, or psychological factors such as depression as third.” Regarding opportunity, access matters. An individual must have access to sensitive information of some caliber that could be of use to a foreign power. All three combined — the personality, the crises, and the access — serve as fertile soil for acts of espionage.

It’s important to make the distinction between ordinary people who commit espionage and individuals who join intelligence services.

“People who join the intel community spent years preparing themselves — school, applying, screening — there’s a huge amount of drive and ambition, identification, pride,” says Dr. David L. Charney, a psychiatrist with the National Office of Intelligence Reconciliation, known as NOIR, a nonprofit dedicated to educating the intelligence community on the management of insider threats. This would include people with access to sensitive information who flip, such as Edward Snowden or Reality Winner. “They’re not coming in to be spies; they join for loftier reasons. The question is what makes a person go bad. That’s when you have to get more psychological.”

According to Charney, at the core of espionage can be an intolerable sense of personal failure, and not necessarily a shifting ideology. “Going back to the ideological spies of the 1930s and ’40s, we run across people all the time who you know have personal demons that are driving them, but they wrapped their demons into the current issue of the day to give it a higher-minded packaging. Any time you try to understand you have to dig a little deeper.”

Navy veteran raped schoolgirl and planted hidden camera

Scott Forbes plied a 14-year-old girl with alcohol during sex attacks in Edinburgh.

A former serviceman raped a schoolgirl and sexually assaulted another underage girl 

By STV

Scott Forbes also placed a hidden camera in another victim’s bedroom and recorded footage of her while she was naked and getting dressed.

Jailing him for nine years on Monday, a judge told Forbes, 49, that the corrosive effect of his behavior on victims was “incalculable”.

 Lord Woolman said: “You have altered the course of their lives.”

Forbes, formerly of Firrhill Park, in Edinburgh, was convicted of five offences committed between 2009 and May last year, including rape, sexual assault and possessing and making indecent images of children.

He locked a 14-year-old in a house in Edinburgh and made sexual remarks to the child and molested and raped her and photographed her naked body.

He also plied another 14-year-old with drink, showed her pornography, molested her and took pictures of her naked body while she was intoxicated at an address in Edinburgh on May last year.

Forbes was also found to have set up equipment at a house in Bonnyrigg, in Midlothian, to covertly shoot and record footage of a third victim in April last year.

Lord Woolman also ordered at the High Court in Edinburgh that the Royal Navy veteran should be kept under supervision for an extra four years after his release.

The judge said he had “narrowly” decided against calling for a full risk-assessment report, which can lead to the making of an Order for Lifelong Restriction.

He told Forbes he was prepared to treat him as a first offender and noted that he had medical problems which have prevented him working for the last eight years.

Defence counsel David Nicholson said Forbes continued to deny the serious sexual offending.

Mr Nicholson said Forbes had been on long term sick leave following a variety of health problems.

He told the court that Forbes has a neurological condition and was previously diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.

The defence counsel said that arose primarily from Forbes’ service when he was stationed in Iraq and the Arabian gulf.

He added: “He is not somebody with any difficulty with drugs or alcohol.”

Following the sentencing, police praised victims who came forward to give evidence against Forbes.

Detective Sergeant Jonny Wright, of Edinburgh’s Public Protection Unit, said: “Scott Forbes is a devious individual who took advantage of each of the victims’ trust.

“I want to commend their bravery in coming forward, which has led to Forbes’ conviction.

“I would also like to reassure any victims of sexual crime that there is no time limit to reporting offences and we will always investigate.”

Police Scotland added: “Anyone with information about sexual offences can contact Police Scotland on 101, or report this anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

Amazon Echo turned into snooping device by Chinese hackers

‘ALEXA, SNOOP ON MY WESTERN BUDDIES’ is potentially a command Chinese hackers barked at an Amazon Echo after they managed to turn it into a snooping device.

By Roland Moore-Colyer

Cybersecurity boffins from Chinese firm Tencent’s Blade security research team exploited various vulnerabilities they found in the Echo smart speaker to eventually coax it into becoming an eavesdropping device.

The hackers showed off the snooping speaker at the DefCon security conference, reported Wired, using it as a demonstration for the potential for smart home devices to be used for surveillance.

 
But before you boot your Echo or Google Home out of the nearest window, the hackers noted that getting into the Echo was hardly an easy process, and Amazon now has fixes for the security holes.

“After several months of research, we successfully break the Amazon Echo by using multiple vulnerabilities in the Amazon Echo system, and [achieve] remote eavesdropping,” a description of the hackers work, provided to Wired, explained.

“When the attack [succeeds], we can control Amazon Echo for eavesdropping and send the voice data through the network to the attacker.”

The hackers first needed to create a spying-capable Echo, which involved a multi-step penetration technique with enough intricacies to get past the device’s built-in security. This included taking apart the Echo, removing its flash chip and writing custom firmware onto it before remounting the chip.

Once done, the Echo then had to be connected to the same network as a target device Echo device. From there, the hackers could exploit a vulnerability in Amazon’s Whole Home Audio Daemon, which can communicate with other Echo devices on the network, and gain control over targeted Echo gadgets.

And, from there, they could then snoop on their victims and pass recording back to the malicious Echo or pipe all manner of sound through the hijacked Echo.

The technique is hardly an easy or particularly remote way to hack an Echo, but it does conjure up some techniques spies could apply in surveillance operations, providing they have permission to sneak into a person’s house, or they could go rogue like Ethan Hunt does in pretty much every Mission Impossible flick.

The whole situation also highlights how security in such devices needs to be given as much attention as other smart features, as there’s already been a swathe of examples where lax security in smart or connected devices has lead to hack attacks.

Pervert landlord watched tenants having sex and made 180 videos of naked women after installing hidden cameras

Paul Dunster, 59, from Portsmouth in Hampshire, would also watch his tenants showering and made films of his unsuspecting victims over a 10 year period

By Danya Bazaraa

A pervert landlord watched his tenants having sex and showering after planting hidden cameras in their rooms, a court heard.

Paul Dunster, 59, made a staggering 183 videos of unsuspecting naked women who rented rooms from him over a 10 year period to ‘satisfy his sexual needs’.

A judge told him it was a “sad” and “disgusting” story.

Police raided former security worker Dunster’s home in Portsmouth, Hampshire, and found two memory cards containing the voyeuristic videos.

He initially denied two charges of voyeurism but later admitted making the secret videos after setting up cameras in the bedroom and bathroom of one of the properties he rented out.

Prosecutor David Reid told Portsmouth Crown Court: “The first memory card had 18 videos which showed sexual encounters between men and women in the bedroom.

“Those videos lasted a total of 20 minutes but none of the tenants were aware of the camera.

“The second memory card was taken from the bathroom and showed women having baths and showers – women who were also totally unaware they were filmed.

“There was significant planning to this and it was an abuse of trust as the women were tenants.”

The court heard army veteran Dunster was landlord of seven flats and had total outstanding mortgages of £870,000.

Daniel Reilly, mitigating, told the hearing: “Many residents are extremely grateful he lets them rent rooms the way he does.”

Sentencing Dunster, Judge David Melville QC said: “The residents would have been disgusted to know you had a camera set up in the bedroom to film people having sex.

“I’m sure people would also have been disgusted to know you set up a camera in the bathroom to satisfy your sexual needs.

“It is sad story and one which is disgusting.”

Dunster was ordered to pay a £5,000 fine plus £500 in costs, and was given 100 hours of unpaid work with 20 rehabilitation days.
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‘Sly’ Osteopath filmed sex with patient using hidden camera at Liverpool practice

Michael George Hammond avoided jail today – but not before his behaviour was branded ‘disgraceful’

By Tom Molloy & Liam Thorp

A ‘deceitful and sly’ Osteopath who filmed a sexual act with one of his patients using a hidden camera has avoided jail.

Michael George Hammond recorded the act using a camera hidden inside a pen on a shelf at his Liverpool practice to record the act.

The 61-year-old, of Llangoed in North Wales, pleaded guilty to voyeurism after an ex-partner and former patient of his found the recording while she was waiting to be seen by him at his Aigburth practice, The Daily Post reports.

At Caernarfon Crown Court, Judge Huw Rees described the act as “a deceitful and sly offence on a lady entitled to privacy and respect”.

He added that although the sexual act was consensual, the extent he went to in order to film it, without the victim’s knowledge, was one that required “considerable purpose of mind”.

Judge Rees said: “You sought out this pen, you purchased it, you secreted it in your treatment room and positioned it surreptitiously.

“You trespassed on her dignity and slyly invaded her privacy.”

Karl Scholz, prosecuting, called for a custodial sentence as he believed the offence fell within the category one sentencing guidelines for sexual assault, due to raised harm and raised culpability.

Paulinus Barnes, defending, said Hammond was remorseful and knew his career was probably over.

He said: “He knew from the outset that his behaviour was disgraceful.

“He abused the lady’s privacy and he is genuinely remorseful.

“He’s now had to close his business, his career is over, and he’s lost his good name. That’s quite some punishment in itself.”

He said aggravating factors including the place of the offence being Hammond’s clinic, the images being available to be viewed and the fact that Hammond appeared to use his position as a platform to abuse women.

Mr. Scholz also said the crime “involved planning and involved a breach of trust”.

Mr Barnes asked for any prison sentence to be suspended, reminded the judge of Hammond’s early guilty plea and pointing out that the recording wasn’t uploaded to the internet or distributed further.

Sentencing Hammond to six months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, Judge Rees described the offence as “entirely degrading” for the victim and told Hammond: “This is a substantial fall from grace for you, at the age of 61.”

Judge Rees also ordered Hammond to complete 150 hours of unpaid work, complete a 50-day rehabilitation rehabilitation activity requirement and pay victim surcharges within three months.

He also called for the recording to be destroyed.

Judge Rees added: “Any failures of these conditions, exceptional circumstances aside, you will be jailed”.

Creepy hostel owner caught using remote-controlled cameras hidden inside shampoo bottles to film women in the shower – and then put the clips on porn sites

New Zealand man pleaded guilty to charges related to secretly filming guests 
The court heard the man would film female guests at his homestay property 
He would put hidden cameras in shampoo bottles and upload footage online 

By ADAM MCCLEERY

A New Zealand man has pleaded guilty to secretly filming female guests while they showered at his homestay property by using cameras hidden in shampoo bottles. 

The Hawke’s Bay man faced the Hastings District Court and pleaded guilty to a combined 51 charges. 

The court heard he had made up to 219 recordings of 34 different women who had stayed with him before uploading them to a porn website. 

Stuff reported that the man would allow guests to us the shower in the property, but had to organise times first. 

Once those times were organized, the man would place shampoo bottles with hidden cameras around the bathroom and shower, the court heard. 

He would then use a remote control to turn them on, catching guests in the shower and undressing. 

He would wait until his house guests left the bathroom before retrieving the hidden cameras and uploading footage to his personal hard drive.

Once he had uploaded the videos online, he also encouraged users to leave ‘positive comments’, it was reported.

The court heard the man would caption the videos and describe his victims by race and occupation. 

In one case the man also added his own commentary to a video. 

The man’s identity was suppressed by the court, despite the pleas of crown prosecutor Steve Manning. 

‘There are 34 victims whose most intimate images have been spread all over the world,’ he said.  

The man’s lawyer, Matt Phelps, requested the suppression order to protect the man’s wife who he said suffers from a condition which would be compounded if he were identified,’ the New Zealand Herald reported.

Judge Geoff Rea imposed the suppression order and also granted the man bail pending his sentence at the Napier District Court in October.

The most serious charges the man faces carry a maximum jail term of 14 years.

Mystery surrounds device found in wallet near playground at Hamilton park

The person who discovered the wallet believes it housed a pinhole camera

Hamilton police detectives are trying to unravel a mystery after a strange electronic device was discovered hidden in a wallet left near a playground in an east end park.

By Adam Carter

A Reddit user who said they discovered the wallet posted that they believe it housed a pinhole camera and a battery, but police were not able to confirm that Friday afternoon.

“We’re not sure what this is,” Const. Lorraine Edwards told CBC News. “We can’t confirm that it’s a camera.”

Police say the wallet was found by park staff at Sam Mason Park near Queenston Road and Nash Road North.

Reddit user Jdm67 posted photos of the wallet Friday morning.

The poster said he or she opened up the wallet looking for a driver’s licence, but instead found what the poster believed to be a pinhole camera, a battery, and a memory card.

“It was set up near the playground with a hole for the camera to view through,” the post reads.

“It was still on, and it seemed like it may be streaming because the WiFi light was on still.”

Edwards said investigators are now trying to figure out who left the wallet there and why.  

She also said a wallet seems like an odd choice to house a device to surreptitiously record someone.

“If somebody meant harm by this, a wallet is the first thing that would be picked up at a park,” she said. 

Are millennials keeping their data safe?

Norton reports one in three millennials use the same password for all accounts; 53 percent have shared passwords with friends or family.

By DECCAN CHRONICLE

While the awareness level in millennials is high about the latest trends in technology and gadgets, it is alarming to see how the knowledge is not being translated well into practice, making them an easy prey for hackers. According to the Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report, one in three millennials use the same password for all accounts; approximately 53 percent of millennials have shared desktop passwords with friends or family members. These trends, witnessed amongst millennials, seem to have put them in a vulnerable position and a common victim of cybercrime.

“Despite a steady stream of cybercrime sprees reported by media, millennials appear to feel invincible and skip taking even basic precautions to protect themselves,” said Ritesh Chopra, Director, Norton business for India.  “This disconnect highlights the need for consumer cyber safety and the urgency for consumers to get back to basics when it comes to doing their part to prevent cybercrime.”

This International Youth Day, Norton would like to share tips on how millennials and consumers can take a few steps towards building a more secure online presence.

Craft a strong, unique password using a phrase that consists of a string of words that are easy for you to memorize, but hard for others to guess. Don’t tie your password to publicly available information as it makes it easier for the bad guys to guess your password. The longer, the better! Additionally, if your account or device enables it, consider two-factor authentication for an extra layer of security. Finally, once you’ve created a strong password, stick with it until you’re notified of a security breach. If you feel overwhelmed, use a password manager to help!
Using unprotected Wi-Fi can leave your personal data vulnerable to eavesdropping by strangers using the same network so avoid anything that involves sharing your personal information when connected to an open Wi-Fi network. If you do use public Wi-Fi, consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to secure your connection and help keep your information private.
Make it a habit to change default passwords on all network-connected devices, like smart thermostats or Wi-Fi routers, during set-up. If you decide not to use Internet features on various devices, such as smart appliances, disable or protect remote access as an extra precaution. Also, protect your wireless connections with strong Wi-Fi encryption so no one can easily view the data traveling between your devices.
Think twice before opening unsolicited messages or attachments, particularly from people you don’t know, or clicking on random links.
Protect your devices with a robust, multi-platform security software solution to help protect against the latest threats.

Creepy cab driver used hidden camera to secretly film under clothes of passengers

Cops only discovered the covert device after raiding David Whitehead’s home in connection with vile child sex abuse images.

By David Meikle

A taxi driver who installed a hidden camera to film under the clothing of unsuspecting passengers has been jailed for 22 months.

David Whitehead, 53, set up the covert device in a twisted bid to record members of the public as they traveled in his vehicle.

His seedy spying operation saw him capture footage of a passenger but it only came to light when police raided his home in connection with extreme child pornography.

Officers launched a dawn raid at the property in Cumbernauld, after a tip-off and discovered sickening clips and images.

The disturbing haul of 2503 photos and 1529 videos included extreme footage of abuse.

Whitehead appeared at Airdrie Sheriff Court and admitted taking or permitting indecent images of children between August 2005 and August 2017.

He also admitted having the hidden camera in his car between August and September 2013.

He was jailed for 22 months by Sheriff Derek O’Carroll who also placed him on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.

The court was told Whitehead was stripped of his taxi license soon after his arrest last year.

Ross Brown, defending, said: “It is always very sad to have to represent a client who at a mature age comes before the court for the first time. In pleading guilty, I would reiterate that he takes full responsibility for his misdemeanors.

“I have spoken to him about the charge involving the taxi and he says there had been a number of attacks on colleagues and that was the primary reason for the installation of the camera but when it comes to the positioning of it, there was a secondary purpose for that.

“This was not an easy matter for him to come to terms with and have to disclose to his immediate and wider family. While not condoning it, they are supporting him in his recovery.

“He was formerly a good man but his fall from grace has been a significant one having to admit to these offenses.”

Depute fiscal Agnes Meek earlier told the court police raided Whitehead’s home after receiving information a device at his address had indecent images of children available for sharing.

She added: “A systematic search was carried out and a number of devices were seized. The accused, while standing in his kitchen in front of officers, stated, ‘It is all me, nothing to do with my boy’.”

Sentencing Whitehead, Sheriff O’Carroll said: “The placing of the camera with the view to take images of those using your taxi and also the fact that you were in a position of trust which you abused by placing it to take indecent images means there is no alternative to a custodial sentence.”

Camouflaged camera used to spy on neighbours

A man who used a hidden camera to secretly film his neighbours has been convicted of harassment.

by Ryan Nugent

Thomas Kelly (66), of 14 Weirview, Lucan, Dublin, covered a camera in camouflage netting and pointed it to the rear of a neighbour’s house.

Mr Kelly claimed in court he was using the camera for security, to monitor property boundaries, and to catch one of his neighbours “masturbating repeatedly” in the man’s back garden.

Gardaí were alerted to the situation after the neighbour, Paul Lynam, discovered two cameras on a cliff at the back of his home in early 2016.

In his evidence at Blanchardstown District Court, Mr Lynam, of 7 Weirview, said: “I’d a feeling for a long time that I was being watched.”

On foot of the discovery, Mr Lynam, along with two other neighbours, journalist John Mooney and Willie Stapleton – whose homes were also captured by the camera, made an official complaint to gardaí on February 11, 2016.

The following day, gardaí arrived with a search warrant for Kelly’s home along with two other properties he owned, 11 and 12 Wearview.

Upon entering 14 Weirview, now-retired Detective Inspector Richard McDonald said in his evidence there were two large flat screen televisions located in the sitting room. One of the TVs was showing regular programmes, with the other having live feeds to all 16 of Kelly’s CCTV cameras.

Gda Damien Reilly also discovered the camera located on top of the cliff to the rear of the house.

The camera, along with the hard drive of the CCTV system and a number of USB sticks on which footage was stored, was seized by gardaí.

Det Insp McDonald said video footage showed zooming in on the rear of certain homes.

 
A further search by gardaí on July 15, 2016, discovered a replacement camera where the initial one was seized. On this occasion more USB sticks were seized.

On reviewing what had been seized initially, gardaí called Mr Lynam in on May 21, 2016, to review the footage.

One clip appeared to show Mr Lynam to the rear of his own home masturbating. When asked by gardaí if that was the case, Mr Lynam said it was.

In his defence, Kelly claimed in court that he had witnessed Mr Lynam masturbating at the back of 7 Wearview while he was working at the top of the cliff.

He said he had made a complaint to child and family agency Tusla and used the camera to catch Mr Lynam in the act.

Kelly said Mr Lynam was “habitually” naked and was “masturbating repeatedly”.

“My purpose in using those cameras was to capture him doing what we all knew he was doing so I could advance my case,” Kelly said.

He said his grandchildren would be up on top of the cliff and he didn’t want them to witness it.

Kelly also claimed that the 16 cameras were primarily used as a security mechanism and to monitor the boundaries of his land – currently the subject of an ongoing civil dispute.

In their evidence, the victims said they had been “stalked”.

Mr Mooney said: “I have a teenage daughter and a son with a camera pointed at their bedrooms. It terrifies me to think that’s going on.”

He added that he could not allow his daughter to open the blinds at the back of the house for two years, for fears they were being watched.

He said he was alerted to the cameras after Mr Lynam showed images of them to him.

Defence barrister Kitty Perle described the dispute between the neighbours over land as “hotly contested and entrenched warfare”.

Judge David McHugh found the defendant guilty on four counts of harassment. Kelly was remanded on bail until September 27, when victim impact statements will be read out.

 
Irish Independent