News you may have missed #912: Analysis edition

Trojan Shield

SolarWinds: How Russian spies hacked US government departments. Last year, in perhaps the most audacious cyber attack in history, Russian military hackers sabotaged a tiny piece of computer code buried in a popular piece of software called SolarWinds. After it was installed, Russian agents went rummaging through the digital files of the US departments of Justice, State, Treasury, Energy, and Commerce —among others— and for nine months, they had unfettered access to top-level communications, court documents, even nuclear secrets. On July 4, the CBS television show 60 Minutes aired a special segment on this topic.

Why did the FBI’s encrypted phone sting not target US suspects? In 2018, a San Diego-led federal sting secretly launched an encrypted communications company as part of Operation TROJAN SHIELD (pictured). Over the next few years, FBI agents, working with law enforcement partners in Australia, New Zealand and Europe, seeded thousands of spyware-infected phones into the hands of criminals and used them to build cases against 300 organized crime groups around the world, from Australian biker gangs to Italian mafia cells. But one country was off limits for investigating agents: the United States. The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kristina Davis explains why.

Opinion: Clearance holders need to protect America by studying espionage. John William Davis, retired counterintelligence officer who instructed the threat portion of the US Department of the Army’s Operations Security Course, argues that “many, many techniques for recruiting spies continue much as they did over preceding years. We can learn from the past and apply what we learn to the future.”

One Response to News you may have missed #912: Analysis edition

  1. Pete says:

    Re the second issue “• Why did the FBI’s encrypted phone sting not target US suspects?” which cites “San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kristina Davis explains why.” at

    In my comment of June 8, 2021 (see ) I anticipated why the phone sting did not target US suspects. That is past US citizen legal privacy sensitivities (mainly in 2001-2007) concerning Warrantless Wiretaps.

    So at see:

    “Pete says:

    …As to legalities – does the enormous scope of TROJAN SHIELD mean that each and every connection relationship was/is covered by US and/or other countries’ judge issued warrants? Or is TROJAN SHIELD effectively a return to Warrantless Wiretaps? see …which hoovered up a vast amount of innocent data of US members of the public…”

    So its no surprise on July 3, 2021 indicated:

    “Any interceptions in the U.S. would need to be done through wiretaps, which judges grant [through warrants] as a last-resort investigative technique and are subject to strict requirements to minimize privacy concerns…U.S. investigators did get at least one court-ordered search warrant in the case — a permission that allows agents to seize past communications rather than intercept them in real time on a wiretap.”

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