Malcolm Nance

Malcolm Nance is a globally recognized counter-terrorism expert and Intelligence Community member who has been deployed to intelligence operations in the Balkans, Middle East, and sub-Saharan Africa. He is the author of five books, including the New York Times bestseller Defeating ISIS and the Airey Neave Memorial Book Prize Finalist Hacking ISIS, and is a counter-terrorism analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Books

Audiobooks

Quotes

Andrei Zaharkevichhas quoted6 months ago
PREFACE
BEGINNING IN MARCH AND APRIL 2016, an unknown person or persons hacked into the computer servers of the Democratic National Committee. Over time it became clear that the hackers were targeting very specific information in the DNC files—the opposition research the Democrats had dug up on their Republican opponent Donald J. Trump. Once they had the information they wanted, the cyber-spies rooted around in the computers for several months thereafter, stealing other files such as personal emails, digital voice mails, and sensitive personal information on donors. This included the donors’ bank account, credit card, and social security numbers. The DNC discovered the intrusion while performing a security check, and shut their network down. However, the damage was done.
For an old spy and codebreaker like myself, nothing in the world happens by coincidence. Intelligence officers are a peculiar lot. Whether they are active or retired, their brains are wired for a completely different way of seeing the world around them. Some come from the Human Intelligence world, where they learn to read, manipulate, and distrust everyone in order to “social engineer” intelligence from people who do not want to give them anything. Others are forged in the signals intelligence world, where all data is just a massive electronic puzzle to be constantly analyzed, turned over, and fused together into an exploitable product, or into a final code to be decrypted or broken. Some, like myself, come from both worlds, and are at turns analytical and skeptical of seemingly obvious information. This hybrid mindview doesn’t approach the world as streams of linear data; it attempts to analyze information like a constantly flowing game of three-dimensional chess. All the moves are technically the same as in regular chess, but the traditional allowances of forward and backwards one square, or a lateral or L-shaped pattern, are too limiting for those trained to sniff out hostile intent; we require additional ways of processing information to be satisfied. Up vertically, down every angle of the compass rose and then across every median, line of longitude, latitude, and every other angle of measure are just about right … then we add layers of frequency analysis figuring out the timing, spacing, depth and distance between each item we call data points. When an event has been then identified on the continuum of intelligence, we compare it with everything that has ever occurred in history
Andrei Zaharkevichhas quoted2 months ago
chain is coincidence, or if it bears the marks of hostile intent. Ian Fleming, the old British Secret Intelligence Service officer who created the fictional character of James Bond, characterized the amazing events in his books with an observation in his 1959 book Goldfinger: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”
Times have changed since Mr. Fleming’s Dictum. In light of current trends in the intelligence business, I like to characterize this phenomenon as Nance’s Law of Intelligence Kismet: “Coincidence takes a lot of planning.”
Reading about the DNC hack was not initially alarming; hackers had also penetrated the Obama and McCain campaigns in 2008. The DNC hack was newsworthy but not really noteworthy until it was paired with two additional events. At the time of the hacks I was writing a massive tome on hackers associated with ISIS and al-Qaeda, so I was attuned to any information about electronic data theft. Then on June 1, 2016 one of my military hacker friends pointed out that an entity who called himself Guccifer 2.0 had opened a WordPress page and was dumping information stolen from the DNC hack.
Guccifer 2.0 claimed he had all the hacked material from the DNC and would be releasing it through his webpage. The name Guccifer struck a nerve, as the real Guccifer, a prolific Romanian hacker, had just been extradited to the United States. Guccifer 2.0 was a copy-cat, and a lazy one at that. My hyper-suspicious intelligence mind started kicking into gear and the game of multidimensional chess was on.
Two weeks later Steve Biddle, the national security writer for the snarky web magazine Gawker posted the entire Donald J. Trump opposition file from the DNC’s servers. Immediately both Fleming’s Dictum and Nance’s Law struck at the same time. There was no way that the single most damaging (and dull) file from the DNC hack would be “accidently” released weeks before the Republican National Committee convention. It was straight from the Karl Rove political playbook: Release damning information early, hold bad information until appropriate. More startling was that word was spreading across the global cyber security community that the DNC hack and Guccifer 2.0 had Russian fingerprints all over it.
I started my career in Naval Intelligence when I entered as a Russian language interpreter sent to DLI, the Defense Language Institute. For years before my Navy enlistment I had studied the Soviet Union and the KGB’s history of political intrigue in preparation for a career in intelligence. Little did I know that two years of studying Russian on my own and four months of waiting at the Presidio of Monterey for my language school slot would result in my taking a completely different language. I was assigned
Andrei Zaharkevichhas quoted2 months ago
I was assigned to study Arabic, then I spent decades watching the Russian client states of Libya, Syria, and Iraq, as well as their ties to European terrorist groups Red Army Faction, Action Direct, the Irish Republican Army, and the Combatant Communist Cells. No matter what my target was, the KGB cast a shadow across every spectrum of my operations. Whenever we conducted a mission involving Syria, we watched for Russian cruisers and destroyers heading to Tartus, or the IL-38 “May” surveillance aircraft that dogged us and kept a weather eye on the Soviet naval units in the Gulf of Sollum anchorage off the Egyptian and Libyan border. Russian “Illegals”—covert intelligence officers—would try to attach themselves to us like leeches in seedy strip clubs in Naples or when puking on the streets of the Marseilles red light district. We went to monthly counterintelligence briefings that explained how the KGB recruited assets, and how they manipulated even the lowest-level young soldier, sailor, or marine through heterosexual and homosexual “honeytraps.”
The formerly classified briefings
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