Yesterday we reported that in a historic first, an unknown group of hackers, the “Shadow Brokers” had hacked the NSA’s cuberattack hacking division, “The Equation Group.” Many were wondering what are the strategic implications of this dramatic escalation, which took place just as the US was accusing Russia of virtually every other recent prominent hacking, and whether it suggested something bigger was taking place behind the scenes.
Today, the most famous NSA (ex) employee, Edward Snowden, chimed in on this topic in a tweetstorm in which he tries to explain who did it:
Circumstantial evidence and conventional wisdom indicates Russian responsibility. I suspect this is more diplomacy than intelligence, related to the escalation around the DNC hack
… why they did it:
This leak is likely a warning that someone can prove US responsibility for any attacks that originated from this malware server.
… and the consequences:
That could have significant foreign policy consequences. Particularly if any of those operations targeted US allies. Particularly if any of those operations targeted elections. Accordingly, this may be an effort to influence the calculus of decision-makers wondering how sharply to respond to the DNC hacks.
and concludes as follows:
this leak looks like a somebody sending a message that an escalation in the attribution game could get messy fast.
In effect, Snowden suggest that Russia has either had enough of being accused for every hack in the US, or of being hacked itself, and is now retaliating. If he is correct, this is a far greater transgression by the Kremlin, and one which would absolutely necessitate a proportional US response to something which very well may have originated in Russia.
I always wondered what kind of games SolSec and the various (feuding feudal?) groups that make up the Imperial intelligence community play.
Overall, its tempting to think that SolSec – with it’s long
Soviet & Chinese traditions of top-notch fieldcraft, would typically come out on top, despite the Imperial technological advantage.
(And this advantage would tend to be less powerful in the technology field: its far easier for the Party to raise a few skunkworks black shops to TL 16, than to raise an entire high-pop/high-tech planet.)
Yet, even so, I think that the Imperium is not as far behind as I’d suspect. Precisely because the Imperium has more internal competition (and a larger technology and population base), there is a greater openness to new ideas, greater resiliency, better internal checks, and more flexibility for operatives in the field.
And I haven’t touch on the various entrepreneurial, for-profit intelligence services out there in the Imperium. True: there is no loyalty oath, and that is actually a big deal here. On the other hand, few businesses are willing to bite the hand of their wealthiest, most reliable, and amazingly well-armed customer.
I’m strongly tempted to play it out to an Imperial advantage, like so: the Solomani have been left behind in the 20th century style “One Party, One Nation, One Race” centralized intelligence paradigm, while the Imperium has moved on to a very complex dance of information management between her major internal cultures & races, religious blocks – Abrahamic vs Vilani vs Stellar Divinity – corporate & megacorporate preferences, and that sprawling network of Noble family alliances and family/corporate mergers.
In effect: Solomani operatives, like Zhodani operatives, are born and raised in a fairly monolithic culture. Imperial operatives have to be far more agile and flexible, born and bred interfacing between different species, different political beliefs, different priorities. This would give the Imperials a strong base to work from.
(Now, if they would stop with the infighting and the budget & jurisdiction squabbles…)
The Solomani still have a real, actionable advantage of blood ties, just as the Chinese security services will always be able to rely on a percentage of the best graduates of the American science academies. But on the other hand, the Solomani are always playing catchup: the Chinese spy on American industries, and not vice-versa.
Moreover: the Solomani have to be cautious when playing the Race card, for the same reasons Mossad has to be cautious: “Aggressively pushing the Party agenda in Solomani-majoirty sectors like the Empty Quarter is one thing: doing the same thing in Vilani-dominant sectors like Dagudashaag is something else entirely!”