The Russia watchRussia pushes “deep state” hashtags; Steele: Hero or hired gun?; Russia’s hi-tech theft, and more

Published 8 February 2018

· Russia pushes more “deep state” hashtags

· Rex Tillerson says Russia is already trying to meddle in 2018 midterms

· DHS won’t reverse ban on Kaspersky products, court docs show

· Vladimir Putin uses cyber weapons to keep Americans at each other’s throats

· Hero or hired gun? How a British former spy became a flash point in the Russia investigation.

· “A political boon to the president”: Will the Inspector General’s report do what Nunes couldn’t?

· Russian state-sponsored hackers trick U.S. contractors in effort to steal military secrets

· Enhanced anti-NATO narratives target enhanced forward presence

· The Russian mobster who fixed the Winter Olympics

· Mattis: New U.S. nuclear capabilities needed to deter Moscow

· Russian hackers hunt hi-tech secrets, exploiting U.S. weakness

Russia pushes more “deep state” hashtags (Jason Schwartz, Politico)
Following the success of #ReleaseTheMemo, Russian-influenced Twitter accounts seek to rile up Trump supporters with new messages, analysts say. Russian-influenced Twitter accounts are test-running other hashtags designed to stoke anger, particularly among supporters of President Donald Trump, against “deep state” forces, according to analysts at Hamilton 68, a website that tracks Russian-influenced Twitter accounts. Last weekend, a host of new hashtags trended in the network of accounts monitored by Hamilton 68, including #fisagate, #obamadeepstate, #wethepeopledemandjustice, #thememorevealsthecoup and even #obamaslegacyisobamagate.

Rex Tillerson says Russia is already trying to meddle in 2018 midterms (Dominique Mosbergen, Huffington Post)
And the U.S. is inadequately prepared to overcome this threat, warned the secretary of state. “I don’t know that I would say we are better prepared, because the Russians will adapt as well,” Tillerson said. “The point is, if it’s their intention to interfere, they are going to find ways to do that. We can take steps we can take but this is something that, once they decide they are going to do it, it’s very difficult to pre-empt it.”

DHS won’t reverse ban on Kaspersky products, court docs show (Michelai Graham, Cyberscoop)
The Department of Homeland Security refuses to reverse the ban on Kaspersky products after the Russian anti-virus company sued the agency for its September 2017 directive, according to new court documents.

Vladimir Putin uses cyber weapons to keep Americans at each other’s throats (Clifford D. May, Washington Times) Just so there’s no confusion: This column is not about Americans conspiring or colluding or coordinating with Russians. That’s a separate controversy about which I don’t have a lot to say at this moment. What this column is about: Dezinformatsiya, the Russian word that gave birth, in the 1980s, to the English neologism “disinformation.” Understand that disinformation is not a synonym for misinformation. The later implies information that happens to be wrong. The former implies an attempt to deceive public opinion for strategic purposes.

Hero or hired gun? How a British former spy became a flash point in the Russia investigation. (Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman, Washington Post)
Those who believe Steele consider him a hero, a latter-day Paul Revere who, at personal risk, tried to provide an early warning about the Kremlin’s unprecedented meddling in a U.S. campaign. Those who distrust him say he is merely a hired gun leading a political attack on Trump.

“A political boon to the president”: Will the Inspector General’s report do what Nunes couldn’t? (Chris Smith, Vanity Fair)
Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s I.G., is a famously straight shooter—so everyone is on edge about where his report may ricochet. Republican Congressman Devin Nunes has dominated headlines for weeks with his controversial memo. But there is greater significance—and uncertainty—attached to Horowitz’s examination of the FBI’s pivotal role during the 2016 presidential campaign. “His report will be more credible than the Nunes memo,” says Benjamin Wittes, the co-founder of the blog Lawfare. “Let’s just say Michael Horowitz is not a clown. And you’re talking about a situation inherently less susceptible to the foolishness that gave rise to the Nunes memo.”

Russian state-sponsored hackers trick US contractors in effort to steal military secrets (Harriet Agerholm, Independent)
‘The programs that they appear to target and the people who work on those programs are some of the most forward-leaning, advanced technologies’

Enhanced anti-NATO narratives target enhanced forward presence (Donara Barojan, DFRLab)
How Russian-language media in Poland and the Baltic States portray NATO’s reinforcements

The Russian mobster who fixed the Winter Olympics (Michael Daly, Daily Beast)
How Alimzhan ‘Alik’ Tokhtakhounov allegedly fixed pairs skating at the 2002 Games, was indicted by none other than James Comey—and is still a fugitive from justice to this day.

Mattis: New U.S. nuclear capabilities needed to deter Moscow (Brian Garrett-Glaser, Cipher Brief)
Pentagon chief Jim Mattis defended the administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) as the right response to Russia’s rising nuclear capacity and its failure to abide by international treaties, in comments to the House Armed Services Committee Tuesday.

Russian hackers hunt hi-tech secrets, exploiting U.S. weakness (Jeff Donn, Desmond Butler, and Raphael Satter, Associated Press)
Russian cyberspies pursuing the secrets of military drones and other sensitive U.S. defense technology tricked key contract workers into exposing their email to theft, an Associated Press investigation has found.