Tech Support Team to Russian Spy: "If This Doesn't Work We Can Meet Again In Six Months"

Looks like those Russian spies who've been lurking around the US recently aren't so different from you and I. They also have to deal with incredibly crappy tech support representatives, long wait times, and stupid suggestions.

According to Network World, the clever spy ring being scrutinized by federal agents had quite a few technical troubles:

The spy ring had numerous technical problems, including file transfers that hung and wouldn't go through and difficulty replacing laptops when necessary. In one case, an agent was so frustrated by laptop issues that she unwittingly turned it over to an undercover FBI agent.

In another case, replacing a laptop took more than two months. A suspect bought an Asus Eee PC 1005HA-P netbook, flew with it to Rome, picked up a passport in another name, flew on to Moscow and returned with it — a process that took from January this year to March. Presumably Moscow headquarters configured the device.

When the courier spy delivered it to another suspect, he described what to do if the laptop had problems. "…if this doesn't work we can meet again in six months," one suspect was overheard saying to another, "they don't understand what we go through over here."

It wasn't just crappy tech support teams that hindered the spies though, they themselves failed to follow some basic computer security rules:

One of the most glaring errors made by one of the spy defendants was leaving an imposing 27-character password written on a piece of paper that law enforcement officers found while searching a suspect's home. They used the password to crack open a treasure trove of more than 100 text files containing covert messages used to further the investigation.

"[T]he paper said "alt," "control" and set forth a string of 27 characters," the court documents say. "Using these 27 characters as a password, technicians have been able successfully to access a software program ("Steganography Program") stored on those copies of the Password-Protected Disks that were recovered…"

Yikes. Guess they don't teach anything about dealing with tech support and sticky notes in spy school. [NetworkWorld via Boing Boing via Slashdot]

Photo of tech support guy by skuds and probably not the spies' IT guy.