[imagesource: Eiko Ojala/FP]
The pandemic has changed how a number of sectors conduct business, but while you’ll read about many of those in the news, there’s one that didn’t attract much attention.
That’s because not attracting attention is the foundation of how agencies like MI5, the UK’s domestic security service, function.
They’re spies, the very definition of which is to collect intelligence while going unnoticed.
Crowds usually help, as does a busy street – two things that aren’t widely available during a pandemic – and while I’m sure the wearing of masks has contributed to keeping things under wraps, you’re going to stand out like a sore thumb on a deserted street.
Per CNN, the head of MI5, Ken McCallum, told journalists earlier in the week that their agents have adjusted to the way they’ve had to work.
“You wouldn’t expect me to get into detail, but common sense will tell you that covert surveillance is not straightforward on near-empty streets,” McCallum said while addressing the impact of the events of 2020 on the intelligence agency.
Vague, but what did you expect?
“Our people are showing huge dedication and imagination in continuing to provide the essential service the country needs from us; while, like everyone else, bearing the strain on their families and wider lives,” he said.
Terrorists have also had to adjust their approach to… work, I guess? They’ve changed the way that they identify and go after targets.
“The big shifts in everyone’s lives – reduced travel, more online, and the rest – mean shifts in how our adversaries are operating,” he said.
“Fewer crowds mean terrorists look at different targets; online living means more opportunities for cyber hackers; and so on.”
So, terrorists are working from home is what you’re telling me.
While the streets have been filling up a tad in many British cities, under stricter restrictions (head here to find out what’s going on in England), homeland threats have been, as McCallum puts it, on the rise with “bitty, but meaningful international connectivity”.
We don’t have security clearance for the rest.
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