The Russia watch FBI: Deep concern over Russia; best safeguard against election hacking; digital deceit, and more

Published 12 February 2018

· Beyond anti-Trump sentiments, FBI officials’ texts reflect deep concern over Russia

· “Russia Is Our Adversary”

· Russia is not a viable counterterrorism partner for the United States

· Digital deceit: The technologies behind precision propaganda on the internet

· Twitter allowed Russian trolls on its video platform despite knowledge of Kremlin links

· The best safeguard against election hacking

· Ad-industry insiders create campaign to give Russian hackers proper credit for their achievements

· Russian hackers successfully targeted U.S. military drone experts with a simple phishing campaign

· U.S. intelligence negotiating return of classified NSA documents

· The Russian new warfare doctrine has the Army worried enough to make a manual about it

Beyond anti-Trump sentiments, FBI officials’ texts reflect deep concern over Russia (Mike Levine, ABC News)
When the Senate Homeland Security Committee released nearly 400 texts messages between two FBI officials at the center of a political firestorm earlier this week, the committee’s Republican chairman said the new messages – with their mocking of Donald Trump and conservative causes – affirm Republican allegations of bias within the FBI and Justice Department. But the text messages — sent between an FBI lawyer and a senior counterintelligence agent with years of experience investigating Russian espionage — also reflect deep concern over Russian efforts to attack American democracy and significant worries about the U.S. government’s willingness to stand up to the Kremlin.

“Russia Is Our Adversary” (Will Hurd, The Atlantic)
Russia is eroding democracy by exploiting the nation’s divisions. To save it, Americans must begin working together.

Russia is not a viable counterterrorism partner for the United States (Colin P. Clarke, Russia Matters)
Russia is America’s adversary and its actions, particularly attempts to fracture NATO, do not align with larger U.S. security goals. Even where there are areas in which the two countries could work together to mutual benefit, any cooperation should be judicious, measured and treated with the requisite degree of skepticism.

Digital deceit: The technologies behind precision propaganda on the internet (Recode)
Dipayan Ghosh and Ben Scott from the New America think tank say we need to fundamentally reevaluate how digital platforms collect data on their users, and how advertisers can use that information.

Twitter allowed Russian trolls on its video platform despite knowledge of Kremlin links (Cristina Maza, Newsweek)
Hundreds of Russian propaganda videos were left on Vine, Twitter’s video platform, for months after the company should have realized the videos were connected to Russian-linked troll groups, according to reports. The Vine accounts, which had the same names as Twitter accounts with known links to Russian troll farms, were reportedly removed Wednesday after CNN notified Twitter. The report raises questions about whether Twitter did all that it could to remove Russian propaganda from its platforms.

The best safeguard against election hacking (Brian Klass, Washington Post)
This week, the U.S. government confirmed that Russian hackers infiltrated voting systems in several states, having targeted 21 of them. While there is currently no evidence suggesting any votes were changed, a hostile foreign power did gain access to voter registration databases — the vital foundation of election integrity. After all, if you control who can and cannot vote, you control a democracy. America’s foolish experiment with digital voting processes must end. The Kremlin — or other hostile foreign actors — will certainly strike again. It’s time for good old-fashioned paper to make a comeback.

Ad-industry insiders create campaign to give Russian hackers proper credit for their achievements (Andreww Marantz, New Yorker)
What the Russians were accused of doing was not only a unique incursion into American democracy, it was also, at its simplest, a highly effective digital-advertising campaign.

Russian hackers successfully targeted U.S. military drone experts with a simple phishing campaign (IFLScience)
Russian hackers have targeted key contract workers involved in military drones, missiles, cloud-computing platforms, and other highly sensitive defense technology. This in itself is not all that surprising, but, shockingly, 40 percent of the 87 targets went on to click on dodgy phishing links contained within the body of the email. Clicking on the links left the workers’ personal email accounts and computer files vulnerable to data theft.

U,S, intelligence negotiating return of classified NSA documents (Josh Delk, The Hill)
American intelligence officials have been conducting a top-secret operation to recover stolen National Security Agency (NSA) documents through meetings with Russian intermediaries. Russians involved in the meetings have also begun offering to sell information on Trump campaign officials in connection with the concerted Russian government effort to influence the 2016 election. U.S. intelligence officials said that they told a Russian offering both NSA cyber weapons and material related to President Trump that they did not want the information about the real estate mogul.

The Russian new warfare doctrine has the Army worried enough to make a manual about it (Sebastien Robin, National Interest)
The U.S. Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group was formed in 2006 to identify gaps in U.S. military doctrine, equipment and field tactics, and to study how potential adversaries are developing tactics to exploit them. In 2017 the group released the sixty-one-page Russian New Generation Warfare Handbook, based on observation of Russian tactics in Ukraine and to a lesser extent Syria, as well as published doctrine and public statements. It paints an intimidating picture of a military ready to combine old strengths in artillery and antiaircraft systems with new technologies and tactics, leveraging drones, electronic warfare, information warfare and massed sniper fire.