The breathtaking revelation that a Chinese intelligence officer infiltrated the staff at Twitter raises serious questions about the potential of a foreign government to influence decision-making for a consequential social media app – but it also highlights the perils of the federal government's deepening relationship with Big Tech, an alliance that could leave the White House itself vulnerable to foreign manipulation.
In cybersecurity, the holy grail for those seeking to breach a company or a government is the obtaining of an "insider," someone within the organization who can facilitate a breach. Though rare, instances involving an insider – such as former government contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked highly classified NSA materials – typically result in the most voluminous releases of damaging information. Similarly, Stuxnet, the computer virus believed to have dealt a blow to Iranian nuclear aims more than a decade ago, did not come out of thin air and would not have worked if not for an insider.
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