When the Mighty Fall

Just when you thought you’d done enough to protect yourself in an age of endemic espionage, two news items smack you in the face:

* Feast on Sergey Aleynikov, a Goldman Sachs computer programmer (reportedly earning $400k at the gig) who, allegedly, copied the firm’s super-secret trading algorithms and uploaded the lot to a server in Belgium…then Aleynikov abruptly quit.  What’s puzzling is how even an insider can download 32 mb of code, then upload to an offsite server without bringing security to his desk quicker than you can say, insider trading.

Writes the NYTIMES: “He is no John Dillinger, no public enemy No. 1. But Sergey Aleynikov nonetheless masterminded a dazzling bank theft, the authorities say, and he did it without brandishing a gun or cracking a vault.”

The Times report continues: “just before he left, according to the complaint, Mr. Aleynikov used his desktop computer at Goldman’s New York offices to upload a stream of code to a Web site hosted by a server based in Germany….Later, he downloaded the files again to his home computer, his laptop computer and to a memory device.”

Internal alarms rang eventually did ring at Goldman as the system detected the data exchange and Aleynikov was arrested at Newark Airport…but what’s gone is gone.

Item #2: When John Sawers takes up the job as head of MI6 — the British CIA, with so much legend the agency’s head always is called just “C,” in honor of the first incumbent — people will know more about him than they did his predecessors.  A lot more.

That’s because his doting wife fleshed out a family Facebook page.  In addition to posting pictures of the new C in Speedos, “she had posted details about their children and the location of the flat the couple use in London,” reported the Guardian newspaper.  Here, for instance is Lady Sawers and their daughter Corrinne.

The tabloid Daily Mail even printed a screenshot of Lady Sawer’s Facebook page (itself deleted).

Sir John, at last count, still held onto his new job — but you can bet MI6 will promulgate companywide rules barring employee use of Facebook.

What’s stunning about these two incidents is the scope of the targets.  Money-machine Goldman Sachs — seemingly bigger than “too big to fail” — and the incoming head of MI6 are about as big as things get.

And yet you have this.

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