Friday, April 4, 2014

What's the SIGINT value of your hotel to GCHQ and other FIS?

A "007" hotel - Couples Sans Souci hotel (Ocho Rios)
Taia Global's first service offering from 2010-2012 was executive cyber security protective services for corporate VPs and C-types who traveled overseas. One of those services was a cyber security risk assessment of the specific hotel that the executive had booked for his stay. We would assess through interviews in-country and research online how infiltrated any given hotel was by that nation state's security service. Needless to say, it was an expensive service since each report required manual preparation, but the reports were well-received by the few clients we had who were willing to pay for them. Unfortunately, most C-level executives that I had occasion to speak to about this either didn't care about the risk or couldn't justify the cost of our service.


Today, The Intercept has leaked a new classified GCHQ slide presentation from its Snowden archives entitled "Full Spectrum Cyber Effects: SIGINT development as an enabler for GCHQ's "Effects" mission" to support Glenn Greenwald's article about the "Cuban Twitter"; an article which may only make it harder for Cuba's dissidents to utilize social media in that country.

However, one of the non-social media slides in that GCHQ deck was entitled "Royal Concierge"- "a SIGINT-driven hotel reservation tip-off service".  While I would rather have found a Russian or Chinese intelligence service document that supported the need for corporate executives to pay attention to which hotel they stay in, it's safe to say that if GCHQ is doing this, all Foreign Intelligence Services (FIS) world-wide are doing it. Why? Because it's so damn effective against executives who will never sacrifice luxury for security. A 5 star hotel continues to be the world's most effective honey trap for both HUMINT and SIGINT operations.

Contact us if you want to start vetting where your top executives stay when they travel overseas.

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