British and U.S. intelligence officials told Reuters Monday they were concerned that NSA leaker Edward Snowden may have acquired a secret list of undercover intelligence agents around the world.
The “doomsday cache” contains the names of intelligence personnel from the U.S. and allied countries, and could have been hidden and encrypted in a data cloud by Snowden.
The “sources briefed on the matter” have no hard evidence indicating Snowden has such a list, but stated it was a worst-case-scenario possibility.
The NSA encrypts such data with multiple rotating passwords and usually keeps it stored on multiple closed, inaccessible physical drives. Even with such security measures, an advanced country like Russia or China has cryptographers capable of decrypting the information should they get their hands on it.
One of the sources said the highly sensitive information could be used as an “insurance policy” if Snowden were captured.
Another said he believes “The worst is yet to come” in regard to the leaks.
Snowden has only released about 500 pages of classified documents so far, while it’s estimated he had access to some 50,000 to 200,000 documents while working for the NSA.
The scenario is strikingly similar to the plot of the 2012 James Bond film “Skyfall,” in which a former British secret service agent steals a classified list of undercover agents’ identities abroad and threatens to expose them. A list of non-official cover agents was also central to the plot of the first “Mission: Impossible” film.
Representatives from both the Director of National Intelligence and the NSA declined to comment on the possibility.