Hacker, Influencer, Faker, Spy

Intelligence Agencies in the Digital Age

October 2022 9781787384835 288pp
Available as an eBook
EU Customers


Intelligence agencies are reflections of the societies they serve. No surprise, then, that modern spies and the agencies they work for are fixated on the internet and electronic communications. These same officials also struggle with notions of privacy, appropriateness, national boundaries and the problem of disinformation. They are citizens of both somewhere and nowhere, serving a national public yet confronting spies who operate across borders. These adversaries are utilising new technologies that offer a transnational anonymity. Meanwhile, ordinary people are keen to be protected from threats, but equally keen – basing their understanding of intelligence on news and popular culture – to avoid over-reach by authorities believed to have near-God-like powers. 

This is the new operating environment for spies: a heady mix of rapid technological development, identity politics, plausible deniability, uncertainty and distrust of authority. Hacker, Influencer, Faker, Spy explores both the challenges spies face from these digital horizons, and the challenges citizens face in understanding what spies do and how it impacts on them. Robert Dover makes a radical case for overhauling intelligence to capitalise on open-source information: shrinking the secret state, whilst still supporting the functioning of modern governments in the post-COVID age.


‘An ambitious, sweeping, post-structuralist analysis of intelligence as practiced in Western liberal democracies today.’ – CHOICE

‘The first substantial book to consider how the digital era will disrupt the business of intelligence, it is destined to become a classic and the gold standard for years to come.’ – Professor Michael S. Goodman, Head of Department, Department of War Studies, King’s College London

‘An elegant analysis that reveals espionage as a new form of performative power in the age of Twitter.’ – Richard J. Aldrich, Professor of International Security, University of Warwick

‘A novel synthesis of intelligence as a crucial tool of statecraft, one increasingly challenged by a crowded information space in which commercial players, other non-state actors and even public opinion may wield power. A topical contribution to the study of the digital age of intelligence.’ – Jennifer S. Hunt, Lecturer in Security Studies, Macquarie University


Robert Dover is Professor of Intelligence and National Security at the University of Hull.

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