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CIA, FBI Push Social Networking for Spies 138

node7 writes "The FBI, NSA, and CIA are jointly supporting a newly created 'MySpace' for the intelligence community. Named 'A-Space,' the site will contain highly classified material, so naturally, it won't be available to the public. From CNN: '[Michael Wertheimer, assistant deputy director of national intelligence for analysis] demonstrated the program to CNN to show how analysts will use it to collaborate. "One perfect example is if Osama bin Laden comes out with a new video. How is that video obtained? Where are the very sensitive secret sources we may have to put into a context that's not apparent to the rest of the world?" Wertheimer said. "In the past, whoever captured that video or captured information about the video kept it in-house. It's highly classified because it has so very short a shelf life. That information is considered critical to our understanding."'"
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CIA, FBI Push Social Networking for Spies

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  • by Narnie ( 1349029 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @07:56PM (#24896147)
    Did I read that right? You can put Osama bin Laden's newest music video on your A-Space profile page?
    • You might want to try searching under his performance name, Tim Osman [whatreallyhappened.com] (not to be confused with one of the Osmond brothers)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This won't be kept on a regular secure site on the open internet. This will be on the standard SIPRnet or on JWICS behind hardware and software encryption.

      Besides aside from curiosity this information won't mean much to anyone who isn't in that line of work.

      • Honeypot (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @02:20AM (#24898319)

        Maybe it's just because I'm a sick bastard, but I'd leave a single access point open to this network on the internet. Protect the living hell out of it, so only the leet could get in. And then make it a honeypot, not connecting to anything real.

        But instead hosting video of alien autopsies, fake Apollo moon landing movie sets, documents about how the CIA shot JFK, letters from the Bavarian Illuminati ordering the war in Iraq...stuff like that.

    • That's probably on Youtube already, but this would let the government post the hai-rez versions.

  • by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @07:56PM (#24896151)
    depending on your outlook "A"-space is asking for them to be the butt of a lot of jokes. pun intended
    • I dunno, all I could think of when I read "A Space" was South Park and "Project: Imagination Doorway"

  • by KGIII ( 973947 ) <uninvolved@outlook.com> on Friday September 05, 2008 @07:57PM (#24896155) Journal

    MySpace is for kids who want to play the latest emo music and pointless clicky things. I can just imagine spies with anime icons.

  • Naming? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Kesch ( 943326 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:03PM (#24896189)

    Is there a logic behind the name? Do they mean A-Space as in "a space" as in "it's a space, somewhere, but we won't tell you where or whose it is."

    Or, do they mean a space for the A-Team.

    (Please say it's the second option)

    • Neither, they just know that the first few iterations won't work quite, and it'll make eSpace seem less trite.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Roane ( 1075393 )
      A -> Analyst
      • Ass-Clowns

        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )
          Somehow oddly appropriate when they through the whole principle of need to know out of the windows. For counter espionage a nightmare, now where did that information get leaked from. Of course for the, well, professionally paranoid, use and it and have your mistakes exposed, use it and obviously be tracked for when, what and why and, use it and be contaminated with bad intelligence from politically motivated sources.

          The only thing it will end up being used for is tacking competing intelligence agencies, t

      • by Fumus ( 1258966 )

        A -> Analyst

        Or just Anal for short.

  • Hacker Target (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sparton ( 1358159 )
    Couldn't this become a huge target for hackers/terrorists/people with nothing better to do to try and find out classified secrets? Somehow I think that putting this sort of information on the web (and I don't care how you think you can lock it down) isn't a smart idea.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kelson ( 129150 ) *

      It's not clear from the article whether it's actually on the web, or whether it's on a private network. I'd hope the latter.

      On another note, I can imagine some of the standard social networking tropes: "Current Music: Mission Impossible Theme."

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        I hope that it is not on the "web" at all - including any protocols that we, as civilians, have access to. To access it should, hopefully, never require http:/// [http] or https:/// [https] but rather *should* be something like SomeReallySuperSecretProtocol:// but maybe a little bit longer.

    • Re:Hacker Target (Score:4, Informative)

      by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:11PM (#24896251) Homepage

      It will be in a private restricted network operated by the government. You can't even send packets on that network without a top secret security clearance. Despite all the screwups of most of government, there are a few things they do right. And you will never come near it.

      • Re:Hacker Target (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:55PM (#24896539)

        It's always cute when people have such faith in their government/military/intelligence institutions.

        In the real world, they do take a bit more care than most, but somebody will screw up sooner or later.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by IanHurst ( 979275 )
          Yeah, leaks still happen. But the parent is basically right. Access to these systems in the real world tends to be limited to (1) people who really are supposed to get it or (2) people doing state-level espionage.

          If getting in was even a little easier than that, we'd have a lot more information than we do.
      • cant help myself

        Government security - Na never been broken into ...
        Military Intelligence - No explanation needed ...
        Government efficiency - Yawn, we know how efficient they are..
        Government organization - Ya right ...

        which can only be topped by:

        Homeland security!

      • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

        there are a few things they do right.

        Same security isn't one of them.

      • by ohzero ( 525786 )
        Funny... our government and military installations have arguably the longest history of being extremely bad at information security. We also have the nasty habit of leaking information. Screenshots to follow within 12 months guaranteed.
      • Nobody needs to send packets on that network. All they need to do is monitor packets on that network. And that's very likely to be done and very difficult to prevent if the network is of any significant size.

        Unless the network is on a single floor of a single building it will be difficult to keep unvetted persons from coming near it.

      • "Military secrets are the most fleeting of all." -- Spock, The Enterprise Incident, stardate 5027.4, Episode 59
    • by PPH ( 736903 )
      All of the variants and misspellings of the a-space.com domain name have been grabbed by now.
      • Except for a-space.gov [a-space.gov] and a-space.mil [a-space.mil].

        • by PPH ( 736903 )

          Yeah, but you know those CIA guys will just go to the first thing that comes up when they Google +A-Space +"top secret stuff"

          These are the same folks that need a sign to warn their undercover agents visiting the CIA gift shop in Langley not to use their credit cards.

          • by bsDaemon ( 87307 )

            You would think that, equally as important, they'd want to warn their undercover agents that wearing CIA t-shirts, or giving CIA bears to their nieces, nephews, or investigative reporters might blow their cover, too.

            CIA gift shop?! Seriously?!

      • by Zibri ( 1063838 )

        I think i found the site: http://www.the-aspace.org/ [the-aspace.org]

    • Re:Hacker Target (Score:5, Informative)

      by tenchiken ( 22661 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:13PM (#24896265)

      It would not be on the web - it would be on SIPRnet, the governments own secure IP network that (at least in theory) doesn't touch the public web.

      I expect that they will actually have multiple different systems. Top Secret really isn't all that secret. It's once you get to eyes only levels above that things are interesting.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by snl2587 ( 1177409 )

      This could also be a giant honeypot to try and catch intruders. Or not. Not like many of us will see this anyway (unless it all ends up on Wikileaks).

    • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:19PM (#24896309)

      you can get in the just use the login Joshua but you need to find the phone # to get in.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I believe "it's a trap" is appropriate here.

      This isn't a tool for spies. It's a tool to catch morons.

      Lets apply the most basic logic... would the intelligence community announce anything of the sort to the public?

      Like the last dozen or so technological or organizational strides they announced.... but wait.... no.

      • by Narnie ( 1349029 )
        So... you're telling me it's not a good idea to haX0r into a-space and setup my own profile page?

        damn....exit, exit, quit, no, bye, q, y, exit, Alt+f4, ctrl+alt+del, yank cord from wall, leave coffee shop...
    • by qbzzt ( 11136 )

      Couldn't this become a huge target for hackers/terrorists/people with nothing better to do to try and find out classified secrets?

      Sure. If you use information, you risk it getting leaked. However, if you do not use it, it does you no good. A lot of information probably comes from sources that are publicly available, or that aren't that secret. Sharing it, along with analysis and meta-data, makes sense.

    • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

      Couldn't this become a huge target for hackers/terrorists/people with nothing better to do to try and find out classified secrets? Somehow I think that putting this sort of information on the web (and I don't care how you think you can lock it down) isn't a smart idea.

      and we thought the MySpace photo leakage was bad!

  • by BitterOldGUy ( 1330491 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:08PM (#24896221)
    Now, all he has to do is go to these sites and he can hook up with the hot Chinese and Russian spies.

    But, he'll have to be careful! You never know if the profile picture is faked and it's really Dr. Evil posting!!

  • Good idea? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:08PM (#24896223)

    I was under the impression that the identity of the sources of information in the intelligence world were very carefully guarded to protect those sources. Even some of the information is often not distributed because it might give clues to the identity of the source.

    Myspace for spies doesn't sound like anything a self respecting (non-suicidal) spy would want anything to do with.

    Analysts, on the other hand, talking about things they see on TV, might love it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tenchiken ( 22661 )

      99.9% of what intelligence agencies do is actually analyst, not spies. The covert(operations) side of the house is a completely different world from what I have read.

    • Analysts, on the other hand, talking about things they see on TV, might love it.

      Hence, A-Space.

  • Will they be able to compete with the Naughty Meter and send Karma to each other? Will there be a friends group for Gitmo?

  • Interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tenchiken ( 22661 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:11PM (#24896247)

    They have been up to some interesting things. Sharing information really isn't the CIA or NSA's normal routine.This is a organization that still calls spies "collaborators" after all.

    I do know that they also have a Wiki system up for sharing information. It's going to make tracking down leaks much much harder, but it will help eliminate the kind of intellegence gotcha's that hurt us on 9/11. Some of the other restrictions - thoose in laws will still be a issue, but hopefully this well help address things.

    Don't look for the domestic groups to get too involved though - the chain of evidence rules would restrict them too much, which is a shame.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kramer2718 ( 598033 )

      I am concerned about the civil liberties implications of this wiki (or whatever they're calling it). There is quite a great risk that information gathered for foreign intelligence purposes could be used against US citizens in unrelated investigations.

      This illustrates the biggest problem with the US intelligence agency/law enforecement: the schizophrenic nature of the FBI. The FBI has several mandates:

      1. Counter intelligence
      2. Pursuit of terrorists
      3. Pursuit of organized crime
      4. Pursuit of other serious federal cri
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by wronskyMan ( 676763 )
        If all LE and intel agencies were granted access to the same wiki, info could flow from the LE to intel agencies just fine. LE agencies could also read the intel provided by the CIA, etc; however, if they attempted to introduce this in court, it would most likely not work because: 1. The information would still be classified. While the govt has taken measures to allow classified evidence to be introduced in criminal trials in the terror/espionage arena, getting clearances for the attorneys/jurors/etc and o
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tenchiken ( 22661 )

        Given that the information is classified, to do so would break federal law.

        I agree with your analysis, but can you imagine anything more scary to the tin foil crowd here?"

        US created agency for domestic spying" ZOMG, Bush is coming to eat you.

      • I'm expanding here to get some clarifications and I'm making a few leaping, uninformed statments here .....

        But, if there are elements of the FBI gathering intelligence on domestic terrorists and a separate for international, then doesn't that mean, technically that that info could go on A-Space? And, wouldn't that also put Dept. Homeland Security in a conflicting state of interest since its under the umbrella of CIA and FBI (where the CIA isn't supposed to get domestic information)? Maybe under DHS it chang

    • I think you're talking about Intellipedia, the classified Wikipedia. It doesn't have stuff that would be useful for leaks. It has bios on important personalities, country profiles, threat weapon system specs, definitions of acronymns, etc. It's very useful, but needs to expand and get more contributors. There are still people who don't even know it exists, and still probably people who don't even know that Wikipedia is in the intel community.
  • A-space??? Why not Fedbook, or MyCIA, FACIASBIN (CIA-FBI-NSA some combination thereof) or some shit like that. wtf does A-space mean? How feeble! ... knock knock knock ... one sec let me get that ...............
    • by Skapare ( 16644 )

      They could have called it "I-Spy", but I think that name has been taken, already.

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      The combination of letters made me think of anagrams. All that I could come up with was single words and they didn't use all nine letters. Some searching led me to this site:

      http://www.sternestmeanings.com/ [sternestmeanings.com]

      It came up with "If in scabs."

      For "the slashdot effect" it came back with "the affected sloths."

  • meh (Score:3, Funny)

    by afxgrin ( 208686 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:15PM (#24896293)

    Bin Laden is going to kill himself in a few days. Probably on the 11th... and it most likely won't be a suicide bombing attempt. He's going to leave a long video or note to go with it. Don't know why I've been thinking this recently...

  • by Chineseyes ( 691744 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:21PM (#24896325)
    The KGB is a pirate become a pirate today.
    Aldrich Ames and the the CIA are now friends
    Robert Hanssen and The FBI are now friends
    Aldrich Ames and The KGB are now friends they found each other through the soviet consulate in Washington D.C.
    Robert Hanssen and The KGB are now friends they found each other through The GRU
    Robert Hanssen is sharing The FBI's secrets with The Espionage Application
    The FBI is wondering why his business is all in the streets.
    Aldrich Ames is going to Moscow!!!
    Aldrich Ames just got busted (Aspace Mobile)
    Robert Hanssen LOL @ Aldrich Ames, amateur
    Aldrich Ames has joined Allenwood Federal Correctional Complex
    Robert Hanssen is wondering what took the FBI so long (Aspace Mobile)
  • by sehlat ( 180760 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:25PM (#24896353)

    This will go one of two ways: it will either be the highest-value target for enemy spy agencies in history ("Your enemy's information, delivered" to paraphrase AT&T) or it will end up as a nothing-really-here honeypot.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by unfasten ( 1335957 )
      Or they'll have it on the same network as Intellipedia [slashdot.org], their intelligence wiki for analysts. SIPRNet [wikipedia.org] is designed specifically for classified information and never touches an unsecured network. If enemies are able to infiltrate that then we have much bigger problems.

      Intellipedia also has a less sensitive version out on the WWW, though I don't know how far they'd go with A-Space.

      Some more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellipedia [wikipedia.org]
  • Dumb dumb dumb (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DreadfulGrape ( 398188 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:36PM (#24896427)

    Not the idea itself, which, I suppose, is OK. Life tends to imitates fiction, anyway (esp. in tech).

    But why exactly is USA Spooks, Inc. publicizing this thing? Does not seem prudent to me....

    • Image,image,image (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Ostracus ( 1354233 )

      Probably because...let's face it. The intelligence community has an image problem. 9/11 and other incidents made them look like dinosaurs. They need to convince people that they're changing, and for the better. Both internally as well as externally.

  • A Space? (Score:5, Funny)

    by fishthegeek ( 943099 ) on Friday September 05, 2008 @08:43PM (#24896471) Journal
    Does this mean that 13 year old girls are going to pretend to be FBI agents now?
    • How come I never have mod points when a comment truely deserves modding up...

    • FBI agents pretending to be 13-year-old girls can urge all their 13-year-old friends to log on to A-Space as FBI agents, thereby qualifying for a 20-year career at Prison-Sweat-Shops-R-Us.
  • that no one uploaded profile pictures.. haha.
  • MySpace? For /.'rs, it'd be more like [ EmptySpace ] Nothing to see here, move along...
  • ...B. S.

  • I think that they'd have been better to have named it something nicer like SpySpace.

    Of course, it could have been worse and been something like asspace.

  • So pretty much we're putting all of the information about our top-secret informants in one place. Isn't there a saying about putting all your eggs in one basket? Pretty much the only way I can figure the system itself would remain secure would be if you could only access it on-location. And not letting some idiot set their password to '123'. And monitoring users' brainwaves to make sure they're not only who they claim to be, but also still 100% loyal and not stupid enough to have internet explorer set to re
    • The info would likely only be accessible on the Governments JWICS network http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JWICS [wikipedia.org] , which is pretty darned secure (or whatever network the government has that the public does not know about). You gotta remember that the cryptography that is publicly available is approved by the NSA, and that the better cryptography is kept by them for their own super secrect stuff. Also, to access a terminal connected to the JWICS network, one would need a Top Secret/SCI clearance, and those termi

  • ......a Honeypot, to me.

    Why the hell announce it, if it was anything BUT a Honey pot?

  • Wikileaks (Score:2, Funny)

    by linhares ( 1241614 )
    is offering to mirror the site, for free!
  • Is it hosted on Microsoft servers? I could have sworn I saw Bill Gates showing off his A-Space on that video with Jerry Seinfeld...

  • Can we, mere Soviet Russians spies^W bloggers join this community? Please-please-please. Have an invite to KGB torrent tracker to trade.
  • is available here [ybcw.com].

  • Give it a few days and it will be.

  • They don't already have some way of sharing information?

    How the hell have we survived this long?

This process can check if this value is zero, and if it is, it does something child-like. -- Forbes Burkowski, CS 454, University of Washington