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Alleged Russian Spy Ring Mixes Old Tricks With New Tech

russian spy on laptop
The exposure and detainment of an alleged Russian spy ring in New York state this past week has provoked a steady stream of disconcerting references, like "Cold War-era," "old-fashioned cold war thriller," "007-worthy" and "right out of a Cold War spy novel." Salivating scribes eagerly detail, and sometimes ridicule, the purported gang's dated and cliched tactics, particularly the brisk public handoffs, the hidden messages scrawled in invisible ink and the Morse Code radio blasts. The agents apparently relied on more than just established espionage stereotypes, though, including private Wi-Fi networks, encryption programs and password-protected disks.

The art of concealing messages, known as steganography, dates back thousands of years, but these new-millenium spies shrouded their correspondences under a particularly modern cloak. Various researchers, including a 2008 team from the Warsaw University of Technology, have discovered steganographic methods of exchanging messages through Internet communications and networking technologies. But, according to the Justice Department, back in 2005, these alleged spies received instructions via "wholly unremarkable photos" that actually contained secret, "readable text files" -- on public websites.

As the investigation progresses, the dialogue between U.S. and Russian officials grows increasingly acrimonious, particularly from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent. Putin, who also directed the FSB Russian spy agency, labeled the actions of U.S. law enforcement as "out of control." Given the terse and heated statements (possibly giving the 'Red Dawn' re-make producers cause to wish they'd stuck with the film's original antagonists), it's certainly calming and reassuring to know that the DARPA spy hunters are hard at work, hopefully on a wolverine-bot. [From: Wired]

Tags: ColdWar, espionage, russia, spy, steganography, top