In the third month of the full-scale war in Ukraine, US intelligence took a new approach to recruiting spies and revealing secrets. On Monday CIA posted on Instagram detailed instructions on how Russians can transmit data to them via an encrypted channel, reports The Washington Post.
The secret services hope that in this way they will be able to obtain information from dissatisfied people who have been trying to contact the CIA since the beginning of the war. The security of informants is super important – so three Russian-language posts explain how to use the Tor browser to operate anonymously online, as well as how to work with VPN. These steps will open a special channel to the CIA, which is safer than going through a regular browser or Internet connection.
In particular, the instructions advise not to use a home or office computer. Also, do not use a VPN based in Russia, China, or other US-unfriendly countries. Free VPN usually loses premium versions, so security is advised not to spare money.
According to officials, the invasion prompted more Russians to take the risk of contacting US intelligence. The CIA wants to help them do it safely. The office is accustomed to dissatisfied citizens or civil servants being able to pass on data.
At the “entrance” visitors will be carefully checked. They are asked to provide their full name, official position, country of contact and access to information they have. Officials also often try to determine how people may have access to secrets other than those they come with.
There is no guarantee that the information provided will be useful. However, intelligence veterans say that the CIA is looking for a way to simplify contact for the Russians, indicating a large number of people waiting in line.
“This is a signal that they are overcrowded with people who want to contact US intelligence in less than safe ways. Nowadays, I think it’s best to offer first-time contact that is safer than trying to go to the embassy or approach an American on the street,” said John Seefer, a former CIA officer with nearly 30 years of experience, including in Russia.
Of course, Russian counterintelligence will be ready for such cases. Dan Hoffman, a former CIA official in Moscow, warns:
“One should be really careful with Russians who are looking for a way to convey information. In particular, the FSB will monitor the people.”
Despite the fact that the Russian government has restricted the use of some social networks in its country, many of them are still actively used. Facebook and Twitter have become even more popular, and the demand for VPN in Russia in March increased by 2692%. The US government believes that this way it is still possible to communicate with the Russian audience.