Security breach - Tony Cunnane's Afterthoughts

Tony Cunnane's Afterthoughts
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Security breach

Written on 26 April 2019

Yet another breach of National Security is being widely discussed in most of the UK newspapers this morning and on the TV news channels after a leading newspaper yesterday revealed what were, allegedly, secret details of a Ministerial conference. I have no inside knowledge whatsoever of the current revelations which concerned Huawei, but it is revealing how, one by one, the individuals who were present at the ‘secret meeting’ are declaring that they were definitely not the culprit. If that procedure is followed to the bitter end, there will be only one person who has not made such a declaration and that will be the one who committed the crime – unless he or she tells another lie and wrongly claims that they were not guilty.

For several years during my RAF service, I was employed on ‘intelligence’ duties. The very first thing I was taught was that there are two sorts of classified information, involving two quite separate groups of people. There are those who gather the classified information (in UK, organisations such as GCHQ and the other Security Services) and there are those who are entitled to use it, usually known in the trade as ‘the customers’. However, if the customers reveal, or become aware of how and when the intelligence was gathered, it immediate tells the ‘enemy’ that their systems have been breached and are no longer secure. That is, by far, the greater sin.

There was a good example of the latter, the ‘greater sin’, on only my second day of duty at 26 Signals Unit in Berlin in 1977 when someone who shall remain unnamed (of course, he knows who he was) told me something that I was not entitled to know. That story is on my main website here (opens in a new window). There is also a related piece on this Afterthoughts website here.

Below: My pic of Teufelsberg (Devil's Mountain) where I worked, as it was in 1980


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