The key principle is that cover is about looking like someone else. You are pretending to be somebody else, whom you are not. You should know what that person looks like and you have to know how they behave. Then you have to be able to mirror them. If you don’t do that, then you draw scrutiny on yourself.
TCB: What are the key elements to keep in mind when building a cover and how long does it take to do so?
Hoffman: There are two things to keep in mind. One is the anticipated level of scrutiny. This would be off-the-charts high in a place like Russia, for example. Second is the operational task. Based on these two factors, you can build an appropriate cover. The time required to build cover varies, depending on those two factors.