U.S. record on cybercrime weak, lacks vodka

Moscow restaurant.jpgMy post on real evil by a Russian mob got me called a CIA propagandist, which is kind of a stretch, given my previous reporting and attempted reporting on U.S. intelligence. Still, that gives me an opportunity to fault the spotty efforts by my home country to put a significant brake on cybercrime, which in my view is one of the gravest threats we're facing.

Among the greatest U.S. government screw-ups are the failures to invest sufficiently in developing a more secure Internet protocol, to call out other governments who are harboring the worst of the worst, and to warn the public that nothing they do online is secure. I could go on at length, but I have elsewhere.

Instead, let's talk about the arrogance of U.S. law enforcement abroad and about Viggo Mortensen naked. In the movie "Eastern Promises," which features Viggo Mortensen nude [Hey, when your book comes out in paperback, I'll be happy to discuss SEO ethics], there's a bit after he has been initiated into the most central Russian gang with a tattoo. "I am through the door," he tells an associate.

Ordinary business in Russia doesn't require that kind of rite. What it does require is prodigious vodka-drinking. There's an historic reason for this: In the old days, the man in your circle who wasn't drinking was probably an informant. U.K. detective Andy Crocker, one of the two main heroes in Fatal System Error, learned that lesson during the unprecedented three years he spent chasing, arresting and convicting three members of a Russian cyber gang. He bonded with an MVD colonel who would be his key partner after passing out in the colonel's office during an afternoon celebration, discovering later that the colonel's wife had passed out on top of him. When I was reporting in Moscow with Crocker and my other big hero, California security whiz Barrett Lyon [that's us in the picture], I too had to drink beyond reason to earn the trust of Russian officers. Only then was I through the door.

While there, I also went to interview the FBI's legal attache, the man the U.S. goes through when it wants help from the MVD. Nice guy, hardworking guy, sincere guy. But for religious reasons, he doesn't drink a drop. All power to him and his god, but it seems to me the FBI also needs good men in places like Saudi Arabia, where abstinence doesn't hurt the cause.

Given my work on this stuff over the years, I can give a more sophisticated analysis of why U.S. law enforcement leadership hasn't handled cybercrime abroad right, despite talented agents. But the images I see are my vodka shots with Andy and the MVD and my chat with the ramrod-straight but misplaced man from the FBI.

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    1. agreed…..along with Art Bell.

      at the very least, they are 2 “gentlemen” who, imo, have mastered the art of profiteering off FUD.

  1. I really wouldn’t worry about being called a CIA propagandist by those nutters. Anyone with any actual knowledge of the security world will realise that Russian state and private sector operators in this area are quite capable of creating their own reputations without the help of the CIA. And just because ‘cyberwar’ is massively overhyped for domestic consumption in western countries, it doesn’t mean that cybercrime is not a major problem. However, the research I have heard described by colleagues who work in this area (including internal AmEx reports) on things like identity theft and fraud indicates that a lot of it, if not a large majority of it, consists of or is facilitated by inside jobs – i.e. bank employees, data entry clerks and like.

  2. There’s an historic reason for this: In the old days, the man in your circle who wasn’t drinking was probably an informant.

    The man drinking was also probably an informant; one out of five Soviet citizens routinely passed data to the KGB. However, if an informant was drunk, his testimony was not considered reliable.

    English diplomats used to claim they had to drink a quart of olive oil and stuff a tampon up their asses before going to Russian diplomatic events. It was the only way to stay sober enough to do their jobs; Russians have an unbelievable capacity for wudka.

    1. English diplomats used to claim they had to drink a quart of olive oil and stuff a tampon up their asses before going to Russian diplomatic events.

      Does that work?

  3. –While there, I also went to interview the FBI’s legal attache, the man the U.S. goes through when it wants help from the MVD. Nice guy, hardworking guy, sincere guy. But for religious reasons, he doesn’t drink a drop. All power to him and his god, but it seems to me the FBI also needs good men in places like Saudi Arabia, where abstinence doesn’t hurt the cause. —

    Gentlemen, if we can’t outdrink Colonel Vlad Igorovich, we will not be able to stop this spam flood at its source.

    I said that we would never have to do this, and I meant it – but circumstances demand it. Pull out your magic church keys and insert them into the Rock of Inebriation; it’s time to summon ULTRA-LUSH, THE SUPERHERO WHO DRINKS.

    Or the ghost of Ted Kennedy. Whoever gets here first, it’s all good.

    -Darren MacLennan

  4. I was interested in the stories about drinking, but was confused by the conclusion about “the arrogance of U.S. law enforcement,” which seemed only supported by the conclusion that some “FBI’s legal attache” doesn’t drink.

    I feel like there must have been something else there that I missed. Is the “FBI’s legal attache” even supposed to bond with mob bosses?

  5. Cybercrime is indeed overhyped and just a scare word to sell useless hardware and services to the military.

  6. A “legal attache” is an FBI special agent assigned to the embassy. One of his jobs is to investigate criminal organizations that may be involved in crimes either committed in the US or against US citizens.

  7. And it just has to be a glass of olive oil OR eat a stick of butter. Because it just slows the absorption of the alcohol, be prepared to stay drunk for a loooooong time. The English will stick damn near anything up their asses. Tradition.

    1. We used to do it to confuse Americans. Then we realised that everything confuses Americans, so now it’s just for the giggles.

  8. You can get drunk by giving yourself an alcohol-laden enema. Lots of bloodvessels up the arse to absorb the alcohol. Not sure if the tampon is able to draw out the alcohol though.

  9. Does that work?

    No, it doesn’t, and it’ll screw up your liver worse than a bottle of cheap Ossetian vodka that smells like acetone. Each rich, meaty soup like kharcho before or during drinking and you’ll be OK. Or at least have a good meal – that way downing a half-litre won’t be that much of a challenge. And keep lots of activated charcoal tablets at hand. Or, even better, we’ve got this stuff called Enterosgel that absorbs all the toxins and saves you from a really, really bad hangover. It also comes in tubes just like toothpaste which is super handy to keep on your nightstand to just squeeze a bit into your mouth before dozing off.

    1. “Rich meaty soup” isn’t going to soak up fifty or sixty of those tiny shot glasses of hi-proof vodka. A hard-drinking Russian can put down more than that.

      The idea behind the oil is to coat your digestive tract so that very little of the alcohol ever enters your bloodstream.

      The idea behind the tampon is that when you thoroughly oil your G.I. tract and fill it up with liquids you are going to be unable to entirely control your bowels.

      I’m not saying it works, I’m just explaining the principles.

  10. The Eastern Europe sales guy at moy old company used to dread the moment after signing a deal where his host would take the cap off a bottle of vodka and crush it. It was apparently very bad manners to leave until the bottle was finished.

    To the best of my knowledge he never used a tampon, but he probably told the salesguy from our American rivals to try it.

  11. You know salo (salted fat) and pickles work far better.

    Note: do not insert either in your rectum.

  12. I lived and worked in Ukraine for a year as someone who doesn’t drink for religious/health/it tastes disgusting reasons. Fortunately, most people were understanding, but especially at first when I couldn’t explain without a translator, I offended some people. However, my love of tea often saved me. As long as I was drinking something …

    I understand from friends who lived in Mongolia that it’s even harder there, especially since many Mongolians don’t consider their local drinks “alcoholic,” despite being very high in alcohol. In other words, they’ll understand why you don’t drink “alcoholic” beverages like wine, but they practically force airag on you.

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