BBC History: The Secret History of Spies by Rob Attar

By Rob Attar

Evaluate: This new collector’s version from BBC heritage journal charts the intense heritage of espionage, from precedent days until eventually the electronic age. Meet a number of the world’s so much audacious spies and learn the way they took poor hazards to form the results of world wars, utilizing a few outstanding instruments and trickery.

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In each nation, counter-espionage work led to executions. In France, the infamous Mata Hari was convicted and shot in 1917 (despite her effectiveness as a spy being highly questionable). Two years earlier, the Russians executed an alleged spy, Sergei Myasoedov, on similarly dubious evidence. The Germans struggled to secure occupied territories and arrested thousands. They executed several hundred in both western and eastern Europe. In Britain, Vernon Kell’s organisation had identified a small web of German spies.

A system was required to investigate the richness of the trail people left online; even, perhaps, building a pattern of terrorist behaviour before asking a computer which individuals matched it. For instance, who was communicating between Britain and Pakistan while also viewing extremist websites? To identify targets whom MI5 could then investigate, such methods required access to both data and massive computing power. The world of spying had met the world of big data. And much of the data, especially in the US, was held by the private sector.

A system was required to investigate the richness of the trail people left online; even, perhaps, building a pattern of terrorist behaviour before asking a computer which individuals matched it. For instance, who was communicating between Britain and Pakistan while also viewing extremist websites? To identify targets whom MI5 could then investigate, such methods required access to both data and massive computing power. The world of spying had met the world of big data. And much of the data, especially in the US, was held by the private sector.

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