Should spies use Gmail?

Should spies use Gmail?

November 26th, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

In light of the Gmail-related scandal involving former CIA chief David Petraeus, one has to wonder if, given the relative ease by which an intelligence agency - or just about anybody - can break into a private email account, government officials entrusted with the nation's most sensitive information should be allowed to keep personal email accounts while in office.

True, Petraeus' email was never actually broken into or hacked by the FBI. Agents gained access to his naughty notes by monitoring Paula Broadwell's email and then asking Broadwell if she was having an affair with Petraeus. She fessed up and gave them access to her computer and with it, even more of his emails. Nevertheless, the very revelation that our nation's top spy used at least one relatively unsecure Gmail account has prompted people to raise the above question.

Many reporters have been surprised when a top military or intelligence officer would reply to emails from an AOL account or something equally pedestrian. It just seems a little odd that people with access to incredible secrets use the same email services the rest of us do.

If hacked, these emails could reveal plenty about the personal lives of their owners who hold high office. Hackers probably wouldn't find state secrets, but they could find plenty of personal information -- travel plans, info about friends and family, online purchases, bank accounts, the list goes on and on. As Google knows for business purposes, a look at someone's email can paint a pretty valuable picture of who they are. Google uses this information to sell ads tailored to your interests. You can imagine what spies would do with it.