CIA unveils Cold War spy-pigeon missions

Pigeons fly in front of the Russian Foreign Ministry headquarters in Moscow on March 27, 2018. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The CIA thought pigeons could be used to spy against the Soviet Union

The CIA has declassified details of its secret Cold War spy-pigeon missions.

The files reveal how pigeons were trained for clandestine missions photographing sensitive sites inside the Soviet Union.

The release also reveals how ravens were used to drop bugging devices on window sills and dolphins were trained for underwater missions.

The CIA believed animals could fulfil "unique" tasks for the agency's clandestine operations.

Inside the CIA's headquarters in Langley, Virginia, is a museum, sadly closed to the general public. During a visit to interview the then-director I caught sight of something unusual amid all the bugging devices and spy gadgets.

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Airport email scam thwarted by UK's cyber-defender NCSC

NCSC office Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption NCSC staff protect the UK from cyber-attacks from their office in central London

An attempt to defraud thousands of people using a bogus email from a UK airport was one of a range of cyber-attacks prevented last year.

The scam used a fake gov.uk address, but the messages were prevented from ever reaching their intended recipients.

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‘Long-term security risks’ from Huawei

5G mast Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Huawei's 5G antennas and masts are already being tested in the UK

The Chinese company Huawei has been strongly criticised in a report by the body overseeing the security of its products in UK telecoms.

The report, issued by the National Cyber Security Centre, which is part of GCHQ, says it can provide "only limited assurance that the long-term security risks can be managed in the Huawei equipment currently deployed in the UK".

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Could Huawei threaten the Five Eyes alliance?

Huawei 5G Image copyright Reuters

In the shiny, optimistic vision of the future we will all be living in "smart cities" in which self-driving cars will check the best routes after being charged up on intelligent, connected power grids.

Public services and safety will be carefully managed though data, while devices in our homes will talk to each other and the wider world as part of the "internet-of-things".

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UK vulnerable to Chinese interference, report says

  • 20 February 2019
  • From the section UK
The Huawei logo outside their research facility in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Huawei has said it is independent and gives nothing to Beijing, aside from taxes

The UK is vulnerable to Chinese influence and interference, according to a defence and security think tank.

A report from the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) said it would be "naive" and "irresponsible" to allow Chinese tech giant Huawei to access the UK's telecommunications system.

Read full article UK vulnerable to Chinese interference, report says

Alex Younger: MI6 chief questions China's role in UK tech sector

  • 3 December 2018
  • From the section UK
Alex Younger gave a wide ranging speech to St Andrews University Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Alex Younger returned to St Andrews University - where he studied - for his second public speech in his four years as MI6 chief

The chief of MI6 has raised questions over Chinese technology companies being involved in the UK's communications infrastructure.

Australia has already blocked Chinese company Huawei from supplying equipment for its 5G mobile network, and New Zealand has said it will consult before a final decision.

Read full article Alex Younger: MI6 chief questions China's role in UK tech sector

Helsinki aftershocks jolt US security elite

Trump and Putin in Helsinki Image copyright Getty Images

For a few days in July, a slice of America's national security elite decamps to the Rocky Mountains.

The dress code at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado is strictly casual - a tie would probably get you ejected.

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Amesbury: Novichok death increases pressure on investigators

  • 9 July 2018
  • From the section UK
Dawn Sturgess Image copyright AFP
Image caption Dawn Sturgess died on Sunday evening after falling ill in Amesbury

The death of Dawn Sturgess may not significantly change the mechanics of the Amesbury poisoning police investigation - but it will increase the pressure surrounding it.

About 100 detectives are already working round the clock to try to establish how Ms Sturgess and Charlie Rowley were contaminated by the nerve agent Novichok.

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MI6 airs TV ads to recruit more women and ethnic minorities

  • 24 May 2018
  • From the section UK
Woman holding child in front of tank of sharks.
Image caption A woman and her child are the main characters in the TV advert

Britain's secret service will air its first recruitment advert on national TV later in a bid to encourage more women and ethnic minorities to join MI6.

The intelligence officers would help find new secret agents and check information gathered is legitimate.

Read full article MI6 airs TV ads to recruit more women and ethnic minorities

Gina Haspel, the CIA pick: Russia, counter-terrorism and Crufts

Nominee to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Gina Haspel arrives for meetings with senators on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Gina Haspel arrives for meetings with senators on Capitol Hill

The woman chosen by President Donald Trump to lead the CIA will have to answer tough questions from US senators on Wednesday. But her career shows she has won most battles she has faced.

When Gina Haspel took up her first posting as a CIA officer in Africa, there were doubters. Perhaps it was because she was a young woman in a male-dominated environment. One of her tasks was taking over the running of an agent. Haspel proved the doubters wrong.

Read full article Gina Haspel, the CIA pick: Russia, counter-terrorism and Crufts