HBGary, Apple, and Counter Intelligence?

Posted on 23/02/2011 by

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[EDIT 11.02.2011]

New analysis posted here.

[/edit]

Quick post today. The emails from HBGary are riddled with “Sent from my [Apple product]” tags, as one astute blog noted.

More disturbingly, is the term ‘COIN’, which appears in relation to Apple’s “Homeland Defense Manager”. From the above article:

…[I[t is intriguing that even Apple, a company that does not typically spring to mind when we think of defense and intelligence, makes an appearance in the HBGary emails. What exactly is Apple’s role in the defense and intelligence world? And given the context of Aaron Barr’s work at HBGary during the time that he was interacting with Apple’s [Homeland Defense Manager] Andy Kemp, as well as Kemp’s other work with the intelligence community (see here and here), one can’t help but wonder: Government surveillance and exploitation of social media, is there an (Apple) app for that?

‘COIN’ is old-school for Counter Intelligence, a programme generally aimed at preventing communists from usurping the right of capitalists to run the USA. Indeed, the programme used to be known by the catchy acronym of COINTELPRO. Now, officially COINTELPRO has been disbanded; anyone actually believe that? Show of hands, please.

Mr Kemp apparently had Top Secret/Secure Compartmented Information security clearances. The latter part is also known as code-word clearances: programmes which are ‘above’ top secret are known only by code-words. The code-word itself is tightly controlled, and is in and of itself considered a very important piece of information. The “Romas” or “ROMAS” which is mentioned might be just such a code-word programme. What it might be is unclear, but if COIN indeed means Counter Intelligence, then ROMAS might be the programme’s code-word.

Whatever the case, though, it was important: Aaron Barr had to sign a non-disclosure agreement about COIN/ROMAS, as well as get security clearance. This is quite possibly a very big deal, and I’ll be reading the (sigh) 19 pages of HBGary emails about COIN tomorrow. Updates to come. If anyone else wants to take first crack at it, be my guest!

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Posted in: Analysis