Hiding in Plain Sight: Maintaining A Spy’s Cover in the Internet Era

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Tradecraft. A term popularized in the novels of John le Carré, but practiced by spies throughout history. Tradecraft includes a number of methodologies, ranging from chalk-marked dead drops, and honey traps, to wiretapping, losing a tail, and safe houses. Spies have to master their craft if they are to be effective in the job while evading ever-suspicious counterintelligence units.

One of the most fundamental needs for a spy is their legend, or a well-prepared but made-up or assumed identity, also known as a cover. Legends allow intelligence officers unique access into companies, ministries, and groups of interest where they can recruit agents, manipulate unwitting insiders, or observe, report, and take direct action themselves.

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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