Dead Drop: November 25

HAVE A CUP OF ESPIONAGE: Much of the world is focused on events in Qatar right now and a sport most of the world calls “football” but is known to Americans as “soccer” (to the extent it is known at all.)  The FIFA World Cup is generating headlines for the matches, the political shenanigans that landed the event in that unlikely location, and the repressive conditions that many athletes, journalists, fans – and local “guest” workers are being asked/forced to accept.  The Cipher Brief doesn’t usually focus on sports – but what caught our eye was a report released recently by cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, predicting that Qatar will also face cyber threats of Olympian proportions during the course of the games.  The report says that the 2022 FIFA World Cup is a “target-rich environment for cyber espionage and surveillance against foreign dignitaries and businesspersons alike.” To make matters worse, Russia reportedly holds a series of grudges against the Qataris – and some theorize that Moscow may mess around just to embarrass Qatar (a country that already has a proclivity to score “own goals” and embarrass themselves without any help.)  Recorded Future says they were not aware of any imminent cyber security threats – but their spidey sense says: watch out. 

ELON-GATE: So far, Elon Musk’s conquest of Twitter is going so well – it would appear that his campaign was developed by the same brilliant strategists who planned Russia’s hostile takeover of Ukraine. Musk still has time to turn things around, of course, and rescue some of the $44 billion he sank into the acquisition. Musk has 118 million followers on his personal twitter account.  According to our math, if he can just convince each of them to mail him a check for about $375 – he should be able to pay off his Twitter debt.  But Musk may have trouble keeping the social media platform afloat even then – since he has laid over half the staff and somewhere near half the rest seem to have beaten him to the punch and departed on their own accord.  What makes any of this Dead Drop material is that we noticed a LinkedIn announcement from (former CIA officer and TCB fav) Nada Bakos, who for the past 14 months has been working as a “senior policy trust and safety officer” at Twitter. Bakos revealed that she decided to take the severance package and get out while the going was good.  You may recall her book The Targeter: My Life in the CIA Hunting Terrorists and Challenging the White House which was favorably reviewed in The Cipher Brief.  Apparently, she decided challenging the White House and dealing with terrorists was one thing – but putting up with the “hard core” leadership at Twitter was just asking too much.

The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” —Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62

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