Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | How did Iran find CIA spies? They Googled it

Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica |

Betrayed by “INURL” —

Yahoo News report points to exposure of CIA communications causing deaths of dozens.


Hexbyte - Tech News - Ars Technica | When he left the CIA in 2011 to become secretary of defense, Leon Panetta (right) was leaving in the midst of a huge crisis for the CIA, according to a Yahoo News report: a breach in communications had exposed dozens of CIA assets in Iran and China.
Enlarge /

When he left the CIA in 2011 to become secretary of defense, Leon Panetta (right) was leaving in the midst of a huge crisis for the CIA, according to a Yahoo News report: a breach in communications had exposed dozens of CIA assets in Iran and China.

Central Intelligence Agency

A covert “transitional” channel used for communicating with sources that Central Intelligence Agency handlers couldn’t reach directly was exposed and infiltrated by Iranian intelligence in 2009. The breakdown in operational security—which apparently relied heavily on security through obscurity—was the result of Iranian intelligence officials simply using Google to locate the websites used as the communications channel after a double-agent exposed the method used by the CIA, according to a report from Yahoo News’ Zach Dorfman and Jenna McLaughlin.

Once a double agent presented information about a website the agent had been directed to in order to communicate with the CIA, Iranian intelligence apparently used aspects of the URL to search for other, similar websites. Iranian officials were reportedly able to rapidly identify a number of other such sites, which were set up as temporary communications systems for new, unvetted sources by the CIA. As a result, Iran’s intelligence was able to quickly identify the Iranians communicating through those sites. The breach led to the roundup in 2011 of 30 people identified by Iran as CIA spies.

Further digging into these compromised sites may have exposed the identity of CIA personnel as well. During the same timeframe, Iranian intelligence officials were also directly approaching US CIA office

Read More