Russian Spy In From The Cold

He’s a Russian spy come over to our side. Victor Sheymov is a former high-level KGB operative who fled to the United States. Now he’s telling us cyber secrets – sort of like Edward Snowden.

His latest book, edited by Kahaluu literary agent Roger Jellinek, is Tiebreaker: Tower Of Secrets II. Sheymov deals with his experience with the CIA, Russian “mole” infiltration of our government and how the latest cyber-security technology overcomes our best defenses.

Sheymov defected in 1980 and is now CEO of a company developing cybersecurity technologies to protect government and commercial databases, and programs to protect children from Internet predators.

Sheymov says, “There is no need for massive monitoring or sophisticated content analysis of private communications.”

Should we believe him?

He defected with CIA help, but so did the infamous Soviet spy Oleg Penkovsky – now thought to have been a plant all along.

Sheymov is an unhappy man. He says after the NSA and CIA used him, they badly treated him and his family. National media mostly have shied away from his tell-all writings.

Also, I wonder if he was aware of the other Tiebreaker book by Jack Bickham about “retired tennis pro and part-time spy Brad Smith who tries to help a young Russian tennis star defect, but the defection goes horribly wrong and they must run for their lives.”

I always find some pearls among castaway oyster shells. So here’s what’s worth considering in Sheymov’s writing:

He documents that static defensive measures we use in cyberspace to keep our secrets and our credit cards safe are futile.

This is frightening: Listeners with parabolic microphones can intercept even encrypted emails and passwords by recording the hums your computer capacitors and coils make as you enter data!

He makes a case for a CIA catastrophic intelligence failure that we hardly know about with the arrest of its agent Aldrich Ames as a Russian spy in 1994.

He tells the uncensored story of how his FBI liaison man Robert Hanssen had been spying for the old USSR.

He says we can’t stop cyber-spying. The technology is running way ahead of the ability to detect it. That breach of Target stores’ data may have compromised 120,000 Hawaii customers. Neiman Marcus also has been infiltrated.

Sheymov complains that once the CIA had drained him of knowledge it cut him adrift. Well, if he as a veteran spy didn’t anticipate that, he is pretty naive. Any John Le Carré reader knows a spy is expendable.

Nevertheless, you conspiracy junkies who enjoyed Sheymov’s first Tower of Secrets certainly will find red meat in this new one.

And those of you who hope our Supreme Court will put a leash on the NSA will find a cohort in this cyberspace expert, who says: “The monitoring of somebody else’s private communications is invasive and represents a form of surveillance. It is no different from monitoring somebody’s (snail) mail.”