5 famous spies and their techie ties

5 famous spies and their techie ties

They betrayed the U.S. – and here’s how technology played a role

John Anthony Walker (born 1937)

Ex-Navy communications specialist began spying for the Russians in '67, eventually deciphering more than 200,000 classified encrypted messages and earning a weekly salary. Started with a classified document of a radio cipher card. Pleaded guilty in '85; serving 30 years.

Robert Philip Hanssen (born 1944)

Ex-FBI agent spied for Russians for 20 years, giving up U.S. plans for spy satellites, radar and signal intercepts, as well as FBI wiretaps. Used password-cracking program to hack FBI computers. Arrested in 2001, serving life.

Aldrich Hazen Ames (born 1941)

Ex-CIA counter-intelligence officer compromised at least 100 U.S. intelligence operations. Wrote espionage notes on his own PC using WordPerfect, supplying password-protected disks to Russian sources. Told investigators the Russian operatives, who had few computer skills, were "rather proud" to learn to turn on a PC and "get my message on it." Convicted in 1994; serving life.

Clyde Lee Conrad (born 1948, died 1998)

U.S. military officer from '74 until '88, when he was arrested. During height of Cold War sold top-secret NATO plans and illegally exported thousands of advanced computer chips to East Bloc. Died in German prison.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg (born 1918, died 1953)

An electrical engineer, Rosenberg, a Communist activist with his wife Ethel, began by stealing manuals of radar tubes and fuses for the Soviets but by the late '40s had two apartments set up as microfilm laboratories for espionage. In '49, FBI learned the secret of the construction of the atom bomb had been stolen. Case broken through "Venona Project." Executed 1953.