To Understand Today’s Cyber War Study Cold War Spycraft

Have state-sponsored hackers been spending nights reading Cold War spy novelists like John Le Carré? It sure seems that way. Because those classic espionage techniques are being reinvented as the latest strategies to compromise Western democracies.

Take the recent reports on Russia’s attack on a U.S. company that provides voting support and systems to local election offices. According to these reports, Russian-sponsored hackers made their way into the company system by sending phishing emails to local officials. They hoped they were naïve enough to open the emails, which would have introduced malware into the voting infrastructure.

This “weakest link” approach is similar to how the KGB during the Cold War attempted to penetrate “target installations” to compromise vulnerable Americans. (There was reportedly a KBG playbook on recruiting Americans that explains their strategy.) 

So if we want to look forward and secure ourselves from hacking, we should look backward at

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