By Brian Bennett – Tribune Washington Bureau
LANGLEY, Va. (Tribune News Service) — After more than a decade of hunting terrorists, stopping plots and scrambling from crisis to crisis, the CIA has concluded it has been outflanked and outwitted on a critical front: digital tradecraft.
On Friday, the CIA acknowledged that it was time to move into the 21st century, saying it was creating a special division to conduct cyberespionage.
Along with crunching data to help identify and approach new spies to recruit, the CIA hopes to improve its ability to trace the “digital dust” that potential targets leave during activities such as using an ATM card, renting a car or moving through a city with a cellphone.
Rival spy agencies use those digital fingerprints to help track CIA operatives, and the agency wants to find techniques to help officers working undercover hide their tracks online.
“The digital world touches every aspect of our business,” CIA Director John O. Brennan told reporters at CIA headquarters here. He acknowledged that the agency had been slow to adapt to the challenge.
The restructuring at the CIA comes after U.S. intelligence was caught off-guard by a series of high-profile digital attacks, including North Korea’s destruction of computer systems at Sony Pictures and an Iranian-launched cyberassault on Las Vegas Sands Corp., the world’s largest casino company, both last year.
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CIA director announces sweeping reorganization. They are creating a special digital spy division.