The Kill Chain is the cybercrime thriller from Scotland’s newest writer, GJ Scobie, which is due to be published by Darkstroke on the 16th July 2022. This blog post is one in a series called Facts behind the Fiction, in which I take an aspect of the plot and provide factual background material, giving an insight into the real world of cyber security and those who work tirelessly to defend our networks and data.
So, what is a sleeper?
It refers to someone who is viewed as part of the community or group they are in and to all intents and purposes appear as no different to anyone else around them. Their purpose is two-fold. First, not to raise suspicion about their true background and objectives, and secondly, to achieve those objectives when the opportunity arises.
Their objectives could be to gather information about those they interact with and pass it on to whoever they report to. It maybe to commit a terrorist act at some point in the future. Some sleepers live unassuming lives for many years, never giving cause for concern or alarm to those they live with, work with and are friends with. Sleepers may hold down responsible roles in government departments or organizations. This depends on what objectives have been set. Sleepers can be employed by governments to infiltrate other countries political systems, with the intention of destabilizing possibly via blackmail and extortion at the right moment, or by providing a conduit through which state secrets are passed on. Sleepers gain the trust of those within their social circles and once they have that, exploit it to whatever ends they have been set. There have been reports of sleepers posing as students with the intention of obtaining academic research or even to keep a watch on genuine students from their own country.
True story. A number of years ago, I was woken early on a Sunday morning by a loud knock on the door. On opening it, I was confronted by the police. They were carrying out a search of lockup garages because of a couple of sleepers who had been detected staying in the village and were implicated with a terrorist cell. They had stayed and worked in the area for many years, without raising any suspicion from those around them. The search was just to make sure any of the lockups weren’t being used to store anything that could further implicate them or anyone else for that matter. A nerve-wracking experience and fortunately, my lockup was clean. So, you never know where sleepers are operating or who they could be.
Next time, covert filming.