Intelligence: The Leaky Laptop


November 11, 2009: Two years ago, Israeli warplanes destroyed a Syrian nuclear weapons research facility. Since then, information has leaked out explaining how the Israelis found the secret facility, and confirmed that it was a target that it had to be bombed. It all began when Israeli agents tapped into the computer of Syrian official three years ago. This was done using the same techniques Internet based hackers use to infiltrate PCs worldwide. Once the secret program was in place, the Israelis were able to quietly remove information from the officials laptop, every time he was on the Internet. Among the items copied were the plans for the nuclear weapons site, including details on how the designers were trying  to make the structure look like something else. Without the hack, the Israelis may have fallen for the deception.

A year ago, UN nuclear weapons inspectors found traces of processed uranium at the site of a suspected nuclear weapons research center in Syria. Commercial satellite photos of the suspected Syrian nuclear facility, which was bombed by Israel in September, 2007, showed structures that indicated something was under construction. The Syrians promptly removed the structures, both the ones that were bombed and those left intact, after the Israeli raid.

North Korean technicians were involved with whatever was going on there, although Syria denied that as well. Denying that North Koreans were around was more difficult, as North Koreans have been seen entering and leaving this area for months. North Korea is believed to be still selling weapons, and possibly nuclear technology, to Syrian mentor Iran. The North Korean presence may have eventually tipped off the Israelis, but the hacked data made it clear what was going on, and justified the attack. The bombing was actually an act of war, but Israel and Syria act like nothing happened. Partly, this was because the Syrians knew they were found out, doing something (developing nuclear weapons) that they energetically deny.



Article Archive

Intelligence: Current 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close