Who can you trust?
When graduating students attend campus presentations by prospective employers, a few may find themselves at the somewhat embarrassing session where those in attendance are reluctant to look at each other; where the main briefer is a tweedy, faintly Ivy Leaguish sort of man at whose elbow is an Eastern European man in a cheap suit, horn rimmed glasses and a pocketful of calling cards with a telephone number good for two weeks only. In some Third World city the setting for the same process may be different. An extended conversation at a cocktail party with an embassy official that goes on for an extraordinarily long time. Or maybe at a private dinner following long acquaintance where the atmosphere turns somewhat muted and charged at the same time.
To be or not to be. This is the question that crosses the minds of many an adventurous person in his life. And the one reason not to be -- that is, affiliated with any official type of clandestine organization -- is the question of who you can trust. The one source of danger that no person in the field can guard against is the pentration of the agency in whom he has placed his trust. Russian agents working for the United States may never have heard the name Aldrich Ames, even till the time when they felt the cold steel muzzle of the execution pistol placed languidly against the back of their heads. They probably died still wondering how the hell they were compromised.
"In God We Trust" means literally that. In all other cases, you takes your chances. Recently, a number of classified computers in the US Senate containing the names of Chinese dissidents were discovered to have been hacked by the People's Republic of China.
WASHINGTON - Multiple congressional computers have been hacked by people working from inside China, lawmakers said Wednesday, suggesting the Chinese were seeking lists of dissidents.
Two congressmen, both longtime critics of Beijing's record on human rights, said the compromised computers contained information about political dissidents from around the world. One of the lawmakers said he'd been discouraged from disclosing the computer attacks by other U.S. officials.
Virginia Rep. Frank Wolf said four of his computers were compromised, beginning in 2006. New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith, a senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said two of his computers were attacked, in December 2006 and March 2007.
Wolf said that following one of the attacks, a car with license plates belonging to Chinese officials went to the home of a dissident in Fairfax County, Va., outside Washington and photographed it.
Things were bad enough in the days when "files" meant thick Manila folders with a garish security warning sheet on the front page. One of the good things about those types of files is that to meaningfully replicate them, you needed a Minox camera with a length of chain, or latterly, a photocopying machine. But today files mean computer files and especially, databases. And databases love to replicate. To cubes, backups, mirrors, subsets, reports, charts, graphs and mashups.
Thomas Jefferson in his genius, described the promiscuous nature of information in his famous analogy of the candle. "He who receives an idea from me receives instruction himself without lessening mine -- as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me."
Wednesday's disclosures came as U.S. authorities continued to investigate whether Chinese officials secretly copied the contents of a government laptop computer during a visit to China by Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez and used the information to try to hack into Commerce Department computers.
The Pentagon last month acknowledged at a closed House Intelligence committee meeting that its vast computer network is scanned or attacked by outsiders more than 300 million times each day.
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