• TerrorismTehran has set up network of terror cells in Africa to attack U.S., Western targets

    As part of its broad response to the increasing severity of the Western economic sanctions, Iran has been setting up a sprawling network of terror cells throughout Africa. The cells, operated by the Quds Force, the branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps which is responsible for overseas operations, aim to attack U.S. and other Western targets, at the time and place of Tehran’s choosing, in retaliation for the sanctions – let alone a military strike by the United States or Israel.

  • TerrorismHezbollah operative collected sensitive information about Toronto Airport for potential future attack

    An operative for the Iranian-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah collected “detailed information” about Toronto’s Pearson airport, according to a report released by Canada’s air safety agency on Tuesday. The Hezbollah operative also scouted New York’s JFK airport and U.S government facilities, as well as identifying Israelis in the United States who could be targeted by the Iranian-sponsored terrorist group.

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  • The Russia connectionTop takes: Suspected Russian intelligence operation

    A Russian-based information operation used fake accounts, forged documents, and dozens of online platforms to spread stories that attacked Western interests and unity. Its size and complexity indicated that it was conducted by a persistent, sophisticated, and well-resourced actor, possibly an intelligence operation. Operators worked across platforms to spread lies and impersonate political figures, and the operation shows online platforms’ ongoing vulnerability to disinformation campaigns.

  • Conspiracy theoriesTruth prevails: Sandy Hook father’s victory over conspiracy theory crackpots

    Noah Pozner, then 6-year old, was the youngest of twenty children and staff killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Last week, his father, Lenny Pozner, won an important court victory against conspiracy theorists who claimed the massacre had been staged by the Obama administration to promote gun control measures. The crackpots who wrote a book advancing this preposterous theory also claimed that Pozner had faked his son’s death certificate as part of this plot.

  • DeepfakesIdentifying a fake picture online is harder than you might think

    By Mona Kasra

    Research has shown that manipulated images can distort viewers’ memory and even influence their decision-making. So the harm that can be done by fake images is real and significant. Our findings suggest that to reduce the potential harm of fake images, the most effective strategy is to offer more people experiences with online media and digital image editing – including by investing in education. Then they’ll know more about how to evaluate online images and be less likely to fall for a fake.

  • Biological catastrophe International community unprepared to deal with catastrophic biological event

    The risks of a global catastrophic biological event are growing, intensified by an increasingly interconnected world, terrorist and state interest in weapons of mass destruction, global political instability, and rapid advances in biotechnology. International leaders and organizations today are unprepared to react with the kind of effective, coordinated response needed to investigate and identify the pathogen, prevent the spread of disease, and, most importantly, save lives.

  • National emergency alertsNational emergency alerts potentially vulnerable to spoofing

    On 3 October 2018, cell phones across the United States received a text message labeled “Presidential Alert.” It was the first trial run for a new national alert system, developed by several U.S. government agencies as a way to warn as many people across the United States as possible if a disaster was imminent. Now, a new study raises a red flag around these alerts—namely, that such emergency alerts authorized by the President of the United States can, theoretically, be spoofed.

  • Climate threatsHow climate change impacts the economy

    By Renee Cho

    Warmer temperatures, sea level rise and extreme weather will be deleterious to the U.S. economy: Rising temperatures damage property and critical infrastructure, impact human health and productivity, and negatively affect sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and tourism. The demand for energy will increase as power generation becomes less reliable, and water supplies will be stressed. Damage to other countries around the globe will also affect U.S. business through disruption in trade and supply chains.

  • PerspectiveThe Budapest Convention offers an opportunity for modernizing crimes in cyberspace

    Governments worldwide are in the process of updating the Budapest Convention, also known as the Convention on Cybercrime, which serves as the only major international treaty focused on cybercrime. This negotiation of an additional protocol to the convention provides lawmakers an opportunity the information security community has long been waiting for: modernizing how crimes are defined in cyberspace. Specifically, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), codified at 18 U.S.C.§ 1030, dictates what constitutes illegal acts in cyberspace in the United States. Andrew Burt and Dan Geer write in Lawfare that without changing the CFAA—and other cybercrime laws like it—we’re collectively headed for trouble.

  • PerspectiveWhat a U.S. operation in Russia shows about the limits of coercion in cyber space

    The New York Times recently reported that the United States planted computer code in the Russian energy grid last year. The operation was part of a broader campaign to signal to Moscow the risks of interfering in the 2018 midterm elections as it did in 2016.  According to unnamed officials, the effort to hold Russian power plants at risk accompanied disruption operations targeting the Internet Research Agency, the “troll farm” behind some of the 2016 election disinformation efforts. The operations made use of new authorities U.S. Cyber Command received to support its persistent engagement strategy, a concept for using preemptive actions to compel adversaries and, over time, establish new norms in cyberspace. Benjamin Jensen writes in War on the Rocks that the character of cyber competition appears to be shifting from political warfare waged in the shadows to active military disruption campaigns. Yet, the recently disclosed Russia case raises question about the logic of cyber strategy. Will escalatory actions such as targeting adversaries’ critical infrastructure actually achieve the desired strategic effect?

  • PerspectiveHow the "White Replacement" conspiracy theory spread around the globe

    From pockets in small town Minnesota to Christchurch, New Zealand, a racist conspiracy theory has taken hold—sometimes to deadly consequences. The “great replacement,” also known as “white genocide,” is summed up by its name: a secretive cabal of elites, often Jewish, is trying to deliberately destroy the white race through demographic change in importing immigrants and refugees. Luke Darby writes in GQ that obsession with racial purity obviously goes far back, but the modern iteration of “white genocide” comes almost directly from The Turner Diaries, a racist novel self-published in 1978 by neo-Nazi William Luther Pierce, writing under the pen name Andrew Macdonald. The book is set in a dystopian America where white people have been disarmed and oppressed by non-whites. The book culminates in a white nationalist revolution led by a group called The Order, who go on to plan a global genocide against non-white people. There’s another layer to the panic over demographics: the fear that birth rates for white people are falling all across western nations. The idea was partially popularized in a 2012 book by French philosopher Renaud Camus, and it’s articulated in another white nationalist trope, the “14 Words”: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

  • Our picksDangerous wackos | Underground border robots | NSA & machine learning, and more

    ·  In praise of the president’s Iran tweets

    ·  Marianne Williamson, longtime wacko, is now a dangerous wacko

    ·  Looking for anti-vaccine conspiracy theories? You can find them on HuffPost.

    ·  What happens when one APT hijacks another’s infrastructure

    ·  U.S. hits Iran with cyberattack: reports

    ·  DHS CISA warns of Iranian hackers’ habit of deploying data-wiping malware

    ·  Border Patrol wants robots that can go underground and report back

    ·  The NSA is experimenting with machine learning concepts its workforce will trust

    ·  A huge new Russian propaganda effort is attacking much more than Facebook

    ·  Cyberbiosecurity: A call for cooperation in a new threat landscape

  • China syndromeGermany warns Huawei to meet Germany’s security requirements

    Germany warned Huawei that the company must meet Germany’s security requirements before the company will be allowed to bid on building the 5G infrastructure in Germany. Germany has so far resisted U.S. pressure to exclude Huawei from the project. The United States has long suspected Huawei of serving the interests of Chinese intelligence, and Washington has argued that Huawei technology could be used for spying purposes by China.

  • ISISThe complex issue of returning Islamic State fighters

    Australian researchers say the government needs to look beyond stripping citizenship from Islamic State fighters seeking to return to Australia as an approach to dealing with terrorism. The researchers argue the federal government must do more to build the Australian public’s understanding of the issue or risk providing a narrative that further feeds IS’s rhetoric.

  • Visas & social mediaNew U.S. visa rules may push foreigners to censor their social-media posts

    By Todd Prince

    Foreigners who decry American imperialism while seeking to relax on Miami’s sandy beaches or play poker at Las Vegas’s casinos may seek to soften their tone on Twitter. The reason? The U.S. State Department is now demanding visa applicants provide their social-media profiles on nearly two dozen platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.

  • ImmigrationCan Trump's threat of mass deportation of undocumented aliens be implemented?

    On Monday, President Trump tweeted that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States” next week. Can this really happen? How soon? And what would that look like?

  • ImmigrationIs cutting Central American aid going to help stop the flow of migrants?

    By Carmen Monico

    The United States is now stepping up its pressure on the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to take steps to curtail the migration of their own citizens by constricting U.S. aid. About $370 million in aid money for the three countries included in the 2018 budget will be spent on other projects, the State Department said on 17 June. Like many experts, I argue that slashing aid is counterproductive because foreign assistance can address the root causes of migration, such as violence and poverty.

  • Conspiracy theoryConspiracy theories and the people who believe in them: Book review

    By Max Burda

    In Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe in Them, Joseph Uscinski presents a collection that brings together contributors to offer an wide-ranging take on conspiracy theories, examining them as historical phenomena, psychological quirks, expressions of power relations an political instruments. While this is an interesting and expansive volume, it overlooks the conundrum posed by conspiracy theories that succeed in capturing the epistemological authorities.

  • Machine learning“Vaccinating” algorithms against attacks on machine learning

    Algorithms “learn” from the data they are trained on to create a machine learning model that can perform a given task effectively without needing specific instructions, such as making predictions or accurately classifying images and emails. Researchers have developed a world-first set of techniques to effectively “vaccinate” algorithms against adversarial attacks, a significant advancement in machine learning research.

  • SuperbugsUN agency launches new vehicle to fund antimicrobial resistance

    The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) has launched a new funding vehicle meant to accelerate the response to rising global rates of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The AMR Multi-Partner Trust Fund was developed through the joint efforts of the Tripartite—the FAO and sister UN agencies the World Organization for Animal Health, and the World Health Organization.

  • PerspectiveMining the future

    China is set to dominate the next Industrial Revolution. A fight between the United States and China is brewing over 5G and the question of who can be trusted to control the world’s wireless infrastructure. But scant attention is being paid to an issue of arguably greater importance to the future of the world’s economy and security: China’s control of the raw materials necessary to the digital economy. No new phone, tablet, car, or satellite transferring your data at lightning speed can be made without certain minerals and metals that are buried in a surprisingly small number of countries, and for which few commonly found substitutes are available. Foreign Policy analysts write in a special report that Chinese firms, operating in niche markets with limited transparency and often in politically unstable countries, have locked up supplies of these minerals and metals with a combination of state-directed investment and state-backed capital, making long-term strategic plays, sometimes at a loss. Through in-depth analysis of company reports and disclosures, mapping of deal flows, quantification of direct and indirect equity stakes, and other primary research, FP Analytics has produced the first consolidated review of this unprecedented concentration of market power. Without rhetoric or hyperbole, this fact-based analysis reveals how rapidly and effectively China has executed its national ambitions, with far-reaching implications for the rest of the world.

  • PerspectiveA Florida city paid a $600,000 bitcoin ransom to hackers who took over its computers — and it's a massive alarm bell for the rest of the US

    A Florida city agreed to pay $600,000 worth of bitcoin to hackers who took its computer systems offline with a cyberattack. Riviera Beach’s city council voted to pay the money after an attack in May affected the city’s online services, including email and 911 dispatches. The attack is part of a pattern that has targeted cities around the US. The disruption has cost millions of dollars. Sinéad Baker write in Business Insider that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned in 2018 that local-level governments around the U.S. were being hit with malware that is “among the most costly and destructive.”