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Credit Default Swaps killed the Moody 10 years ago…how will the FSB and CIA fare in Round II?

The names of the instruments might change, and the names of the participants might change, but history shows us, the outcome is normally the same.  The outcome for the many is nearly always eventually determined by the will of the few.  The question is.  Who are the few?

Now what new instrument do we know of that is not on a regulated exchange and has no reporting requirements just like CDS's in 2008.  Hmm...let's think for a Bit.  Here are some of our predictions.

Thought recoginition and mapping research began a long time ago. However, recent developments connecting Neuroscience with technology, will literally change how we think in the not too distant future.

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The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), commonly known as MI6, is the foreign intelligence service of the government of the United Kingdom, tasked mainly with the covert overseas collection and analysis of human intelligence (HUMINT) in support of the UK's national security. SIS is a member of the country's intelligence community and its Chief is accountable to the country's Foreign Secretary.  The Intelligence Services are prepared for the "Fourth Industrial revolution" and committed to a new, forward thinking approach to recruitment. Please note, this site is not connected to the UK Secret Intelligence Service or endorsed by them, but rather a site detailing already publicly accessible information covering Secret Intelligence Services in general.

Although the terms "industry 4.0" and "fourth industrial revolution" are often used interchangeably, "industry 4.0" refers to the concept of factories in which machines are augmented with wireless connectivity and sensors, connected to a system that can visualise the entire production line and make decisions on its own.  When Chief Alex Younger referred to Industry 4.0 it verified the notion that SIS has been preparing for the 5G IOT's and the technological "Disruption" that has already occured and will gain traction in coming months.  Read More.

There are many ways to recruit a spy.  Certainly too many to cover in an article such as this. It really depends on who the particular intelligence agency is looking for, which organization, and what its objective is.  It will come as no surprise that some methods are more or less well publicized than others.  For SIS in particular, given that the organization did not officially exist until 1994, many of the methods used for recruitment are, for obvious reasons, still closely guarded secrets.  Graduate recruitment is one thing, but developing a potential (currently operational) agent is another, especially if they are already in full time professional employment or indeed, working for another intelligence agency. 

 

The PR stance at the moment may well be to promote a progressive, modern image, and in many ways it most definitely is.  However, the traditional ‘tap on the shoulder’ approach was really symptomatic of a desire to retain control of the recruitment process.  To that end, things have not really changed.  SIS has, and always will be, more cautious about the ‘walk in’ candidate and will have entirely different, and more complex, processes in place to evaluate such a person.  Furthermore, the complex recruitment cycle is now refined to the point where SIS can recruit individuals without them even knowing.  Now that’s surely the recruiters’ holy grail.  As with all things ‘intelligence’ orientated, there is a constant focus on resources and purchasing power.  SIS needs to maximise the value of each pound spent and therefore, long and complex targeting of individuals used to gain information, has to be considered against the costs of recruiting those intelligence officers charged with interpreting that information.  So, in essence, a balancing act in the same way as any other modern-day commercial organisation.  Let’s not forget however, that despite the budget allocated by the Intelligence Committee and oversight of section 5, 6 and GCHQ, there are still relatively few intelligence officers out there. Especially in the ever-changing competitive world of private intelligence agencies and their corporate counterparts which compounds the problems caused by the brain drain and external temptations.

 

SIS Chief Alex Younger said in his speech at St Andrews that “If you think you can spot an MI6 officer, you are mistaken. It doesn’t matter where you are from. If you want to make a difference and you think you might have what it takes, then the chances are that you do have what it takes, and we hope you will step forward.”  Clearly this is a nod to the future and the recognition that with Espionage 4.0 around the corner, intelligence agencies need to invest now and allow time for the training and development of new individuals.  Individuals that could take two or more years to develop before assuming roles of increased responsibility and clout.  This is the likely reason and not, as some cynics have suggested, merely PR propaganda developed for the benefit of our adversaries to suggest that UK intelligence is growing.  The argument here being that even if the funds are not available, and even if the organisation is cutting costs, creating the illusion that the funds are there is just as effective.

 

So far the common denominator is money.  Whether it is the level of funding, or the maximisation of value for each pound spent.  Mr Younger’s comments clearly pushes ideology as a motivator and driver for potential candidates, and one can hardly blame him.  Let’s face it, it would be hard for SIS to push the financial incentive when faced with free market competition.  So, it is a given that the organisation has to, regardless of whether it is true or not, sell the notion of ‘making a difference’ as the key driver.  So, enter the ‘buddhist spy’ i.e. someone who has forsaken all desires of financial or materialistic rewards in favour of….that little bit more.  Here, the idea that freedom is power is never more true, but by god it’s a tough one to find, especially in the younger recruits.  Money can never be the sole motivator in this profession, but the complexities of life, youth, character and practical issues, means it simply is important.  One cannot really attribute this simply to youth either.  Yes, the younger recruits may well be ambitious and dazzled at the prospect of financial reward, but then again so is the 42 year old married man with three children.  So its not that.  Indeed, the tap on the shoulder system which focussed on the Oxbridge folk probably worked largely because they were the elite and on the whole from upper middle class affluent backgrounds where they always has the family vault to nudge open in times of desperation.  Ironically, this student and the buddhist spy are similar in that they are both free from financial pressures thereby making them more effective. 

 

So, they key thread to pull from the above is that there is power to be had from the freedom of external influences.  Without wanting to drift down the spiritual or philosophical road too much, a successful spy in todays world could be the one who can happily remove any influence, both positive or negative.  In the case of the honey trap, it would be rendered useless if the person did not attribute so much influence to sex.  In the case of financial reward, bribery or extortion, if one truly has zero desire for money then it is powerless.  In the case of power itself, if one is sufficiently self confident to the point where the affirmation from power is not needed, then that too is rendered useless.  So the buddhist spy almost becomes machine like.  Perhaps this is another case for the advancement of the neurodiverse, or those people less emotionally driven to some extent, in favour of the ‘safety’ of the binary world.  In essence, the buddhist spy is simply a person who cannot be bought, and therefore cannot be compromised.  Could you be that person?

To understand the future we need to understand the past.

Exponential Intelligence¹ is a term we coined to represent the application of current models of Exponential Digitization and the 6 D's, to specific practical use within the Intelligence Services.  More pertinently perhaps, our studies have allowed us to develop a clearly defined process which builds on mainstream models but applies to the future of secret intelligence and how to be better armed.  Stacking the odds in your favour, is one way of describing it.  Some will argue that Exponentialism is not a concept the human mind can truly comprehend, however, 'we' do understand process and ironically for us, historically, predicitve tools have always been based on linear thinking. Put simply, if we know that exponential growth is unpredictable given its rate of change, we can atleast start with the basic truth, that future growth will be unpredicatble and will not be defined so greatly on past events.  From that vanilla premise, we can build.  And we have. That is what we refer to as Exponential Intelligence (EXINT).  So where we have had the 6 D's to thank for where we are at the moment (see below) perhaps EXINT is the next step, or 8 D? (and that was not a typo).

 

To understand how our EXINT models are developed, one has to begin with the basic principles espoused by current thinkers.  Exponential Growth in technology has certainly gained traction in the corporate world over the last two to five years.  Peter Diamandis and his colleagues at The Singularity University, and fellow innovationist's have laid comprehensive foundations from which each person, entity or government can build and personalise their own structure.  Where Mr Diamandis et al have been so insightful and influential in our view, has been in creating a method and way of thinking to explain and prepare people to the possibilities of digitization and exponential growth, that is scalable and applicable to almost any entity.  To understand how best to over-lay these core concepts onto a new organisation such as an intelligence gathering one, and to understand the likely future impact, we need to be certain we understand the basic principles.

Our studies on this subject start by focusing on some key basic principles with the aim of providing some tangible link to the structure and operations of intelligence gathering agencies such as Patrium Intelligence and others.  From this we can ascertain how an intelligence organisation can harness and best take advantage of becoming an Exponential Organisation (EXPORG). Read More. 12.08.19

Exponential

Intelligence

The Future of

Secret Intelligence 

Despite the efforts of law enforcement agencies across the globe, the sheer scale of the ML problem is a strain on resources.  Therefore we have to rely on targeted and efficient intelligence to lighten the load as well as now Artificial Intelligence systems which will eventually leave the criminal penniless. Lets start with the basic loopholes in the current UK system. Read More

Cultural Intelligence

Cultural Intelligence is an aspect of our work that is going to become increasingly important.  There is something of a paradox at play in the tech and fintech world at the moment which means that we are bound to see borders (geographical and metaphorical) blurred more and more as markets promote decentralisation.  At the same time, the nature of technology is going to then create individuals who are essentially technological and data driven power houses. As decentralisation develops and we see banks and other previously important organisational structures fall quickly by the wayside, each individual will become their own bank, their own marketing suite, their own ID and data facility.  It will result in a paradigm shift and one which ironically will in essence move things towards a 'culture', not necessarily in the typical sense however.  If one takes the definition of culture as being "the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society" what we will actually see is the ideas, customs and social behaviour of a person grow to then become a society of 2, 3, and 4 etc.  The side effect will also be a pull back towards individual culture and society as groups inevitably become insular in many ways whilst at the same time having the ability to cross technological and social frontiers like never before.  So, this is something we are seeing already especially on a macro perspective and even politically. Our job at Patrium is to be prepared for these changes and rather than blindly steer focus towards what many expect will be homogeneity, we maintain our cultural links and local expertise.  Right or wrong, it has stood the test of time, and our uniquely diverse group of staff and external contacts have a detailed cultural knowledge or 'cultural intelligence' which means we can work with a wide group of people and do so, well. Our cultural intelligence sits well alongside our network of local contacts and resources available on the ground. Read More. 13.08.19

Thought recoginition and mapping research began a long time ago. However, recent developments connecting Neuroscience with technology, will literally change how we think in the not too distant future.

The Iconic Vauxhall building is often referred to as the Ziggurat. An ancient architectural design from the region of Mesopotamia by early Babylonians.  Parts of an area more recently referred to as the middle east, covering Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran.  Was the construction of the building designed in that way by Farrell in the nineties coincidentally emblematic of architerural history in that region of Babylon?  Or was there some thought given to this, knowing that references would be drawn to the Ziggurats origins of design?  Was this symbolism being used to link the mutlutude of Mesopotamian rivers, to the grand old River Thames?  Given the nature of the beast and a general feeling that events are on the whole, not coindicences, then perhaps it was the latter.  According to much more revered and esteemed experts the design has received some criticism and that its inspiration came from the Mayan or Aztec regions and may even have been inspired by buildings such as the Battersea Power Station.  But that wouldn’t be anything quite as romantic as this idea now would it?  Come on we can do better than that.  Think of the top as a shrine, not a platform for sacrifice... hmmm? We have a structure in the middle of our capital, arguably inspired by a design from the original “fertile crescent” and sitting on our very own fertile crescent, the Thames. What better nod to our apparently adversarial cultures than to plonk a clearly middle eastern, Babylonian inspired design in the heart of London.  Or is that one idealistic sentiment and overly romantic thought too far?  You decide.....

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Would you give your bank card PIN number to a nurse or a receptionist at your local GP’s surgery?  If you were involved in an accident, apart from the doctors and nurses who help you, what about the people who clean the debris off the road or the ambulance driver?  What if you were in a crowded place and felt a small pin prick sensation on your arm? Maybe this all sounds a bit too far-fetched?  The problem is, if someone has thought about it, then the chances are it’s already being planned and dealt with.  What if any one of these examples is tantamount to giving potential hackers direct access to you bank account? 

 

At any point in time human beings rely on ‘currency’ in some form or another i.e. having something you do not just own, but have in your possession, that is of value to someone else.  Furthermore, a currency does not just rely on physically having control of a possession of value, it is useless without transportation of some description.  That is to say, if you have an item, whether it is a £50 note, a computer you’re looking to sell, or even an online account with funds in it; it is all worthless unless you can transport, or transfer, ownership to someone else.  To take an extreme example, if you want to sell your house to release some capital, having the house and agreeing to sell it is pointless unless you sign on the dotted line and exchange deeds.  It seems obvious right? Well it sort of is, at least the problem is.  The solution is a little more complicated.

So, going back to those graphic examples at the beginning, the development of biometric systems will mean your blood could easily satisfy the definition of a currency just like any other.  Think about it, we know it can be transported, so that’s the first box ticked, and if we assume most people have a bank account with money in it, then it is also valuable.  That is, if your bank account can be accessed using biometric data from your DNA or blood samples.  Which if it isn’t now, is certainly going to be in the not too distant future in some form or another.

 

These concerns have given rise to various schools of analysis covering a topic of something now called “biometric spoofing”.  It is as the name suggests.  It is the use of biometric data gathered from sources such as fingerprints, facial recognition, blood samples and iris recognition (to name just a few), to securely identify an individual and verify access.  Academic studies both here and in the US as well as countries in Europe such as Sweden are trying to analyse the potential consequences of security breaches which may well ensue.  At the same time, the enemy they are fighting is not just the ‘spoofer’ or the ‘hacker’, it is time itself.  As technology grows at a faster and exponential pace, then scientists and strategists are going to struggle to keep pace with these changes.  In industries or organisations where security is paramount to human safety, it is not enough to analyse the consequences of the steep exponential growth curve.  Instead, it must do all it can to stay ahead of it.  In this article we examine some of the relevant data associated with this topic and the possible implications. Read More.

The Private Intelligence Agency - A U.S Phenomenon?

According to a New York Times article, 70% of the USA’s intelligence budget now goes to private sector intelligence companies.  This is a relatively new phenomenon and does not hold true in the UK to that degree. Most people spend many years working in intelligence in the public sector, including typical agencies such as the CIA or MI6 but also military or police operations, before transferring to the private sector.  The private intelligence sector can be harder to break into than public intelligence and most people break into the private sector first having worked publicly, although there are entry-level jobs as well. Intelligence requires very specific personalities. Much, if not most, of the work is research based. These jobs will often involve some travel and an extensive amount of regional and country knowledge. Find out more about job opportunities.  Read More.

A Hoo-Ha in Huawei - NarrowBand IOT 

Those of a certain generation will remember a BBC programme called 'Threads' which tapped very effectively into the public paranoia about Nuclear threats from the East.  Now, documentaries propagate similar fears about 5G, China and Huawei and possible global control over the Internet of Things (IOT).  The hoo-ha has also had serious political repercussions, not least a recent Ministerial exit and strained relationships across the pond.  The question is, after a report and public remarks from the National Cyber Security Centre, is recent media coverage representative of the facts, and exactly who are Huawei?  Can we become the imitators?  Coordinated stress testing might help. Read More. *

SIS MISSION STATEMENT

The Secret Intelligence Service works secretly overseas, and develops foreign contacts to gather intelligence that makes the UK safer and more prosperous. SIS helps the UK pick out and develop opportunities as well as manage risks to national security, military resources and the economy.

 

SIS works worldwide to counter terrorism, resolve international conflict and help stop the spread of nuclear and other non-conventional weapons. SIS is here to help protect the UK’s people, economy and its interests.

In terms of its Mission, the Secret Intelligence Service describes it as:

"Our mission is to provide Her Majesty's Government with a global covert capability. We collect secret intelligence and mount operations overseas to prevent and detect serious crime, and promote and defend the national security and economic wellbeing of the United Kingdom. We work closely with the MI5 and GCHQ, and the secret nature of our work means we operate within a strict legal framework and report to government ministers. It takes people from a wide range of backgrounds with a variety of different skills to help counter the increasing number of threats to the UK. But they all share the same mission – to protect the country, its people and interests."​

THE SECRET INTELLIGENCE SERVICE

To echo the words of the Chief Mr Alex Younger, SIS is working hard to prepare for the next generation of intelligence work in an ever changing technology driven world.  Artificial Intelligence, 3D Printing, Robotics, Bio-metric systems, driverless cars and a global eco-system are all examples of the key areas of development growing at exponential rates.  The seemingly seamless secret shift to singularity?  Maybe we are not quite there yet, but the success of global intelligence rests on truly understanding and harnessing the potential of exponential, digitised, growth.  Unlike corporate counterparts, intelligence agencies are going to become increasingly reliant on firstly, accurately measuring the rate of exponential growth and its direction, and secondly, being able to stay ahead of the 'exponential curve' in what is an unforgiving business.  Read more about how SIS can reserve its seat on the inevitable journey towards singularity as it uses all its resources to keep our country safe and prosperous. 

UK Government & Intelligence Structure

Prime Minister
Boris Johnson
Foreign Secretary
Dominic Raab
Home Secretary
Priti Patel
Defence Secretary
Ben Wallace
Cabinet Secretary
Sir Jeremy Heywood
Secret
Intelligence
Service
External Threats
GCHQ
Code Breaking & Encryption
Security Service (MI5)
Internal Threats
Defence
Intelligence
Staff
Threat Assessment
Joint
Intelligence
Committee
Set Priorities

THE UK INTELLIGENCE NETWORK

MI5 - Military Intelligence (Section 5)

Director General - Andrew Parker, reports to Home Office Minister Sajid Javid

MI5's states that its "mission is to keep the country safe, both now and in the future. The organisation's values contribute to that mission: Its singular focus on the mission, striving for real results that make the country safer.

Working as one as MI5, bringing together in common purpose the best that everyone can give, supporting colleagues and treating each other with respect, and forging close partnerships and teams with others we depend upon." It operates under the highest standards of integrity, objectivity and sense of proportion, using great skills, expertise and experience; to produce high quality information management, a strong security culture and commitment to the rule of law.  Ethical conduct, accountability and compliance within its own procedures, is a cornerstone of MI5's mission and culture.  The service is constantly seeking new ideas and different approaches to advance its capabilities, improve its ways of working, and overcome obstacles to its success. Learning and development and sharing knowledge is embedded in this culture and is vital towards the success of MI5.

MI6 - Secret Intelligence Service (Section 6)

Chief - Alex Younger CMG, reports to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

 

The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), commonly known as MI6, is the foreign intelligence service of the government of the United Kingdom, tasked mainly with the covert overseas collection and analysis of human intelligence (HUMINT) in support of the UK's national security. SIS is a member of the country's intelligence community and its Chief is accountable to the country's Foreign Secretary.

 

Formed in 1909 as a section of the Secret Service Bureau specialising in foreign intelligence, the section experienced dramatic growth during World War I and officially adopted its current name around 1920.  The name MI6 (meaning Military Intelligence, Section 6) originated as a flag of convenience during World War II, when SIS was known by many names; it is still commonly used today. The existence of SIS was only officially acknowledged in 1994 with the introduction of the Intelligence Services Act 1994 (ISA), which placed the organisation on a statutory footing for the first time and provides the legal basis for its operations. Today, SIS is subject to public oversight by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee.

 

GCHQ - Government Communications Headquarters

Director - Jeremy Fleming, reports to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is an intelligence and security organisation responsible for providing signals intelligence (SIGINT) and information assurance to the government and armed forces of the United Kingdom. Based in "The Doughnut" in the suburbs of Cheltenham, GCHQ is the responsibility of the country's Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, but it is not a part of the Foreign Office and its director ranks as a Permanent Secretary.  GCHQ was originally established after the First World War as the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) and was known under that name until 1946. During the Second World War it was located at Bletchley Park, where it was responsible for breaking of the German Enigma codes. Currently there are two main components of the GCHQ, the Composite Signals Organisation (CSO), which is responsible for gathering information, and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is responsible for securing the UK's own communications.

GCHQ is led by the Director of GCHQ, currently Jeremy Fleming, and a Corporate Board, made up of executive and non-executive directors. Reporting to the Corporate Board is:​

 ​​​​​​​​​
  • Sigint missions: comprising maths and cryptanalysis, IT and computer systems, linguistics and translation, and the intelligence analysis unit

  • Enterprise: comprising applied research and emerging technologies, corporate knowledge and information systems, commercial supplier relationships, and biometrics

  • Corporate management: enterprise resource planning, human resources, internal audit, and architecture

  • Communications-Electronics Security Group​​

DIS - Defence Intelligence Staff

Chief - Air Marshal Philip Osborn, reports to Ministry of Defence and Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt

Defence Intelligence (DI) is an organisation within the United Kingdom intelligence community which focuses on gathering and analysing military intelligence. It differs from the UK's intelligence agencies (MI6, GCHQ and MI5) in that it is not a stand-alone organisation, but is an integral part of the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The organisation employs a mixture of civilian and military staff and is funded within the UK's defence budget. The organisation was formerly known as the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS), but changed its name in 2009.

 

The primary role of Defence Intelligence is that of 'all-source' intelligence analysis. This discipline draws information from a variety of overt and covert sources to provide the intelligence needed to support military operations, contingency planning, and to inform defence policy and procurement decisions. The maintenance of the ability to give timely strategic warning of politico-military and scientific and technical developments with the potential to affect UK interests is a vital part of the process. DI's assessments are used outside the MoD to support the work of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) and to assist the work of other Government departments (OGDs) and international partners (such as NATO and the European Union). It is this 'all-source' function which distinguishes Defence Intelligence from other organisations such as SIS and GCHQ which focus on the collection of 'single-source' Human Intelligence (HUMINT) and Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) respectively. As such Defence Intelligence occupies a unique position within the UK intelligence community.  Defence Intelligence also performs an intelligence collection function, primarily through the military capabilities lodged within the Joint Forces Intelligence Group (created in 2012 from what was formerly known as the Intelligence Collection Group or ICG).

Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC)

Chair - Charles Farr

 

The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) is an interagency deliberative body responsible for intelligence assessment, coordination and oversight of the Secret Intelligence Service, Security Service, GCHQ and Defence Intelligence. The JIC is supported by the Joint Intelligence Organisation under the Cabinet Office.

The JIC is responsible for:

  • assessing events and situations relating to external affairs, defence, terrorism, major international criminal activity, scientific, technical and international economic matters and other transnational issues, drawing on secret intelligence, diplomatic reporting and open source material

  • to monitor and give early warning of the development of direct and indirect threats and opportunities in those fields to British interests or policies and to the international community as a whole

  • to keep under review threats to security at home and overseas and to deal with such security problems as may be referred to it

  • to contribute to the formulation of statements of the requirements and priorities for intelligence gathering and other tasks to be conducted by the intelligence agencies

  • to maintain oversight of the intelligence community’s analytical capability through the Professional Head of Intelligence Analysis

  • to maintain liaison with Commonwealth and foreign intelligence organisations as appropriate, and to consider the extent to which its product can be made available to them

 

The JIC has three functions:

  • Advising the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers on intelligence collection and analysis priorities in support of national objectives.

  • Periodically scrutinises the performance of the Agencies in meeting the collection requirements placed upon them.

  • Assuring the professional standards of civilian intelligence analysis staff across the range of intelligence related activities in Her Majesty's Government.

Q: Can we induce an event which leads to a material and significant change in a person’s ability or behaviour which would be useful to an organisation such as MI6?

Straps yourselves in for a little bit of a wild ride, so if extreme sports of the academic or indeed philosophical kind are not your thing, then please unbuckle now and leave the park. The four terms used in the title would appear at first glance to be connected, but for the purposes of this article, are not.  There is a distinct, and key difference in that they refer to a journey of sorts.  The journey of the mind and neural functionality that eventually leads to a change which has been caused by an ‘event’. Each term describes a condition.  A condition of the brain at a point in the journey. 

Where did my Taxi Driver and my money go?”

 

Whenever there is a radical and rapid development in Technology, the voices of those who fear the human effects of such developments sing loud.  Of course, debate is ultimately a healthy proposition when conducted in the correct manner i.e a respectful exchange of ideas, evidence and facts to determine the truth or at least the likelihood of why ‘something’ happens.  The problem is that as we venture further up the emotional curve and hit the raw nerve of public consciousness, a healthy debate, absent of extreme views, is less and less likely.   This is quite possibly the stage we are at now when it comes to the vast changes of technological development at exponential rates of growth.  If one then throws into the mix a subject such as Artificial Intelligence, which has been the subject of many a doomsday prophecy, especially in the fictional world, then the prediction of likely effects  becomes distorted.  There are a vast number of capillaceous issues branching out from each topic within AI and on a scale which precludes us from analysis in this article due to time.  However, there are rarely more topics as emotive as a person's job and their ability to generate income in order to survive...so will driverless cars render the taxi driver extinct and will money even be necessary in any form? Read More. 13.08.19

Dark Web

An Opportunity or Threat?

Perceived wisdom suggests the Dark Web is synonymous with illegal activities involving weapons, drugs and pedophiia.  The assumption has been that if you use it, then you have something sinister to hide.  To be fair, closure of drug giants like "Silk Road" did nothing to change those perceptions.  However, in the big brother world of surveillance, the search for privacy is demanded by the majority and will be found in some way or another.  Furthermore, in a society where people are being increasingly attracted to the fringes of life,  the shift to increasing usage of the Dark Web is a given.  That does not mean it is wrong however, and as we often witness, it is people from the 'fringes' who sometimes operate outside of social norms, who provide the greatest sources of innovation.  We firmly believe the dark web will undergo an upgrade of sorts and although usual, non-secured browser based sites will attract some attention, their days are numbered.  The really exciting proposition is to predict Dark Web 2.0, 3.0 and so on. Rather ironically, but understandably, it is the law enforcement and intelligence agencies who are spending more and more resources on hiding within the shadows of the Dark Web.  It has been the most effective way so far.  However, as it grows, it will it continue to be the safe haven of the criminal or will some form of regulation (such as was with the legalisation of drugs etc), prevent the extreme offenders?  Take the example of Silk Road. It is not only possible, it is probable.  Whether you are in favour of legalisation generally or not,  in many cases it is a safer option.  Many of the sites that offered Marijuana were ran as slick commercial organisations where consumer satisfaction was paramount.  The product was therefore of superior quality (apparently) and it was offered within the relative safety of the internet and not some dark street corner.  Maybe that one is for the liberals out there.  For our purposes however, it shows that the deep dark web does actually have a USP which can be monetized, namely privacy.  Looking further head therefore, the real drug that will sell well in our 'Orwellian' future, is anonymity.  That will undoubtedly be the most precious of commodities.

 

As it stands now however, people and the societies they live in tend to display tendencies to self-regulate and yes, whilst there is always potential for abuse, the masses will (or should) drive the market to some degree of parity.  There are certainly huge opportunities around the corner.  A secured 'blockchain'esque' physical depository for parcel delivery is bound to happen on a large scale and accompany the growth of the Dark Web.  That is because the only chink in its armour at the moment is complete anonymity with delivery of items. Imagine a secure facility where parcels (aka Data) entering from one side, is subjected to 'scrambling' (aka 'Encryption') and leave the other side to be collected by a seemingly unconnected party (aka 'You').  Now multiply that across every City in the UK.  You then have what one can REALLY call an encrypted, secure, supply chain that would be undetectable to all agencies and, most importantly, legal  Read More.

There are many ways to recruit a spy.  Certainly too many to cover in an article such as this. It really depends on who the particular intelligence agency is looking for, which organization, and what its objective is.  It will come as no surprise that some methods are more or less well publicized than others.  For SIS in particular, given that the organization did not officially exist until 1994, many of the methods used for recruitment are, for obvious reasons, still closely guarded secrets.  Graduate recruitment is one thing, but developing a potential (currently operational) agent is another, especially if they are already in full time professional employment or indeed, working for another intelligence agency. 

 

The PR stance at the moment may well be to promote a progressive, modern image, and in many ways it most definitely is.  However, the traditional ‘tap on the shoulder’ approach was really symptomatic of a desire to retain control of the recruitment process.  To that end, things have not really changed.  SIS has, and always will be, more cautious about the ‘walk in’ candidate and will have entirely different, and more complex, processes in place to evaluate such a person.  Furthermore, the complex recruitment cycle is now refined to the point where SIS can recruit individuals without them even knowing.  Now that’s surely the recruiters’ holy grail.  As with all things ‘intelligence’ orientated, there is a constant focus on resources and purchasing power.  SIS needs to maximise the value of each pound spent and therefore, long and complex targeting of individuals used to gain information, has to be considered against the costs of recruiting those intelligence officers charged with interpreting that information.  So, in essence, a balancing act in the same way as any other modern-day commercial organisation.  Let’s not forget however, that despite the budget allocated by the Intelligence Committee and oversight of section 5, 6 and GCHQ, there are still relatively few intelligence officers out there. Especially in the ever-changing competitive world of private intelligence agencies and their corporate counterparts which compounds the problems caused by the brain drain and external temptations.

 

SIS Chief Alex Younger said in his speech at St Andrews that “If you think you can spot an MI6 officer, you are mistaken. It doesn’t matter where you are from. If you want to make a difference and you think you might have what it takes, then the chances are that you do have what it takes, and we hope you will step forward.”  Clearly this is a nod to the future and the recognition that with Espionage 4.0 around the corner, intelligence agencies need to invest now and allow time for the training and development of new individuals.  Individuals that could take two or more years to develop before assuming roles of increased responsibility and clout.  This is the likely reason and not, as some cynics have suggested, merely PR propaganda developed for the benefit of our adversaries to suggest that UK intelligence is growing.  The argument here being that even if the funds are not available, and even if the organisation is cutting costs, creating the illusion that the funds are there is just as effective.

 

So far the common denominator is money.  Whether it is the level of funding, or the maximisation of value for each pound spent.  Mr Younger’s comments clearly pushes ideology as a motivator and driver for potential candidates, and one can hardly blame him.  Let’s face it, it would be hard for SIS to push the financial incentive when faced with free market competition.  So, it is a given that the organisation has to, regardless of whether it is true or not, sell the notion of ‘making a difference’ as the key driver.  So, enter the ‘buddhist spy’ i.e. someone who has forsaken all desires of financial or materialistic rewards in favour of….that little bit more.  Here, the idea that freedom is power is never more true, but by god it’s a tough one to find, especially in the younger recruits.  Money can never be the sole motivator in this profession, but the complexities of life, youth, character and practical issues, means it simply is important.  One cannot really attribute this simply to youth either.  Yes, the younger recruits may well be ambitious and dazzled at the prospect of financial reward, but then again so is the 42 year old married man with three children.  So its not that.  Indeed, the tap on the shoulder system which focussed on the Oxbridge folk probably worked largely because they were the elite and on the whole from upper middle class affluent backgrounds where they always has the family vault to nudge open in times of desperation.  Ironically, this student and the buddhist spy are similar in that they are both free from financial pressures thereby making them more effective. 

 

So, they key thread to pull from the above is that there is power to be had from the freedom of external influences.  Without wanting to drift down the spiritual or philosophical road too much, a successful spy in todays world could be the one who can happily remove any influence, both positive or negative.  In the case of the honey trap, it would be rendered useless if the person did not attribute so much influence to sex.  In the case of financial reward, bribery or extortion, if one truly has zero desire for money then it is powerless.  In the case of power itself, if one is sufficiently self confident to the point where the affirmation from power is not needed, then that too is rendered useless.  So the buddhist spy almost becomes machine like.  Perhaps this is another case for the advancement of the neurodiverse, or those people less emotionally driven to some extent, in favour of the ‘safety’ of the binary world.  In essence, the buddhist spy is simply a person who cannot be bought, and therefore cannot be compromised.  Could you be that person?

 

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