‘The More Things Change’: HUMINT in the Cyber Age
USMA Research Unit Affiliation
Army Cyber Institute
From targeting to recruitment, clandestine handling to intelligence collection and processing, no aspect of Human Intelligence (HUMINT) operations remains unaffected by the profound impact of technological development, particularly in cyberspace. Rapid innovation in this domain has both enabled and encumbered the gathering of intelligence via human sources, and in some respects even altered the established human agent acquisition cycle itself. Although perhaps some aspects of twenty-first century HUMINT techniques would be unfamiliar to John Le Carre’s Cold Warrior, George Smiley, he would surely maintain that personal interaction remains the heart of HUMINT, and no amount of cyber-interaction can replace the close bond between an intelligence officer and his or her agent. In the cyber era, HUMINT will become even more complex, and case officers, their managers, and their political masters will need to understand the significant role of technology in their operations, the creative and persistent counterintelligence threats, and how intelligence collection is evolving faster than ever before.