October 9, 2012
Last week, federal officials arrested 11 people for attempting to smuggle sophisticated and sensitive electronics to Russia. These electronics are used to detonate triggers and guide weapons.
This is the second such espionage threat discovered in two years. In 2010, the FBI arrested 11 Russian “suburban” agents for espionage.
These events demonstrate that espionage remains a very real threat, one that cannot be countered with ”reluctant enforcement as well as lax persecution,” The Heritage Foundation’s Ariel Cohen and Dmitri Titoff explain:
The incident with the Houston firm shows that for Russia, human intelligence remains an important tool of Russian spying. Military technology procurement was and is an important part of espionage—not just for Russia, but also for China and even an ally like France. However, it is the scope and the brazenness of the current Russian operation which makes this FBI success outstanding.
According to senior intelligence officials, Russia is stepping up espionage worldwide. Open societies of the U.S. and Western Europe are traditional high-priority targets. In particular, computer networks are increasingly employed to spy. Why spend millions of dollars and years on deep penetrations, when Russian hackers—among the best in the world—can download terabytes of data in seconds?
In November 2011, a U.S. intelligence report to Congress warned that foreign intelligence agencies, especially in China and Russia, are accelerating their efforts to steal sensitive technology data from U.S. companies through cyberspace. Cyber-espionage is even harder to track than HUMINT (human intelligence).
The New York indictments clearly demonstrate that Cold War habits die hard, especially in Russia—happy blather about the “reset” policy notwithstanding.
Do you think Russian espionage is a serious threat?