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Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Thursday, June 10, 2021

What WhatsApp and bears in the woods can teach us. Fans of John le Carr's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy know how top military secrets are extracted from the enemy. Senior figures are turned in operations run by the most secret brains in the country, bluff and double-bluff mix with incredible feats of bravery, treachery and psychological manipulation.

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...Not any more. If head KGB spy Karla wanted to learn intricate details of the British military today, he'd just have to check WhatsApp. He'd learn who in the special services had got an extra stripe, as well as their cover units -- and that's just one document The Reg has seen. Are there others out there on public messaging systems? If we knew, we couldn't tell you....

At issue in both WAGate and WCGate is the nature of security. Like those Soviet decrypts, on paper WhatsApp looks secure -- if you think in standard security terms. A message is encrypted using mathematically blessed methods before it leaves the sender's device and is only decrypted when it's safely in the recipient's. It was the same for Fialka ("Violet") -- the Warsaw Pact's default military encryption system and source of the data on Ivan's bum fodder. But if you can swipe the final output, the quality of the encryption doesn't matter. With Fialka, that took thick gloves, a strong stomach and inadvisable proximity to lots of unhappy enemy shootists with sore bottoms -- those message pads weren't soft.

With WhatsApp, you get the benefit of 50 years of advances in tech -- you can sit on your sofa and tap Copy.

We don't know exactly how the Ministry of Defence (MoD) spreadsheet was leaked. We do know WhatsApp is designed for ubiquitous, frictionless sharing -- not an ideal attribute for an Army-wide comms system. ...


#1 | Posted by LampLighter at 2021-06-10 12:10 PM | Reply

Easier than that, promotions are released to public channels, making it easy for anyone interested to compile a paper of full names and where they are stationed as of moment of promotion.

#2 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2021-06-10 07:06 PM | Reply

With a name and geographic region, could be cross referenced with social media, including LinkedIn ... few are invisible these days.

#3 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2021-06-10 07:07 PM | Reply

@#2 ... Easier than that ...

Yeah, my guess is that The register knew that, and that is why they chose to publish what they did, instead of all they had access to.

There's this line in the article, "...Are there others out there on public messaging systems? If we knew, we couldn't tell you...."

I'd proffer, there's something they are not saying or, more likely, are not able to say.

#4 | Posted by LampLighter at 2021-06-10 10:32 PM | Reply

At the last highly classified Federal Agency(I cant name) I contracted for a few months ago, I saw the people I worked with were using WhatsApp to communicate about out of office stuff, like when someone would be late or when a meeting was. I watched to see how much classified intel was released (none was while I worked there).

#5 | Posted by boaz at 2021-06-13 08:34 AM | Reply

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