recently gave a talk as part of EVE University's 5th birthday
celebration on the topic of how newer players can get involved in
far more easily than other aspects of the game. One of the
questions which kept coming up was a request for rules or guidelines on
how to infiltrate hostile alliances - the basics of how one gets in,
gets the job done and gets out. Similarly, I was asked by a number of
aspiring corporate officers about the basics of the counterintelligence
game - how to find and out hostile agents. While there are no hard and
fast rules on either side of this divide, the example of one of my
now-retired agents and his infiltration of Veritas Immortalis
illustrates a number of lessons about the spy game.
Blitter had no experience in the espionage game. He approached me out
of the blue with a difficult question: Having just purchased a 38m
skillpoint character with a 'clean' corp history (i.e., not affiliated
with an agent's home alliance) capable of piloting capital ships,
should he put the character in Goonfleet - ruining it for any espionage
use in the process - or take a crack at infiltrating our enemies? This
wasn't an easy question to answer. It was October of 2006, at a time
when Goonswarm was living in Red Alliance's home system of C-J6; we had
no conquerable space of our own, and the bare handful of capital ships
our group of determined newbies could muster could barely be called a
'capfleet'. On the other hand, a capital ship character was the
opposite of the stereotype of a goon agent, who our enemies conceived
of as a recently-created newbie alt with no standings or employment
history. There didn't seem to be much harm in giving it a shot, so I
encouraged Blitter to infiltrate one of the Southern Coalition
alliances which were arrayed against us at the time.
As an espionage agency, we were lucky that we had been able to plan in
advance for the war against the Southern Coalition. Months before
Goonswarm moved in to live with Red Alliance in Insmother we began
seeding our future enemies with spies: Veritas Immortalis, Knights of
the Southerncross, Interstellar Starbase Syndicate and Lotka Volterra
had each been thoroughly infiltrated long before we made the
cross-galaxy journey from our motherland in Syndicate to Insmother.
Blitter acquired his capital agent at just the right time - we were
about to try to seize Scalding Pass from Veritas Immortalis, the first
target in what would rapidly develop into the first Great War.
When Blitter approached Veritas, he wasn't entirely sure how to go
about it. The invasion of Scalding Pass had just begun; paranoia was
rampant. In the end, he opted for complete openness: he made a post on
Veritas' forum in their recruitment section, mentioned that he owned an
Archon carrier, had an incredible amount of skillpoints, and was
willing to help out with logistics in the fight against the goon
hordes. The response was immediate and positive; within a day, Blitter
was in Dragons of Redemption, one of the primary corporations in
Veritas. At the time we were both surprised by how quickly Veritas
jumped on him, but in hindsight it makes sense: he was offering them
exactly what they would want in an ideal recruit, and it seemed
impossible to Veritas that a capital pilot could be a GIA agent. The
best way to get into a hostile organization is to keep your story
simple and tell people what they want to hear. No convoluted
explanation or fancy stories needed: take the direct approach.
What could Veritas have done differently? First, they should have held
their potential capital recruit to a higher standard of scrutiny.
Capital pilots are privy to far more strategic information than the
regular membership, so you must be especially certain they are not
spies. They could have checked his employment history and contacted the
CEOs or known members of his prior corporations for references; had
they done this, they may have found that the character had been sold,
and that the 'Lenutza' applying to Veritas was not the same 'Lenutza'
as before. They could have investigated the character sales section of
the Eve-Online forums looking for evidence of a potential sale. At the
very least, they could have resisted the urge to believe what they
wanted to believe, and held Blitter in a 'trial period' of sorts where
his access and information had been limited. But, they didn't.