The Russia watchThe cyberwar that never happened; Putin “targeting UK government”; U.S. cyber-passivity, and more

Published 13 March 2018

· There’s more to Russia’s cyber interference than the Mueller probe suggests

· The cyberwar that never happened: How Obama backed down from a counterstrike against Russia

· EUCOM Commander: Moscow targeting Balkans with misinformation campaigns

· Mueller’s choice of criminal charges: Why the Trump team should be very worried

· US not effectively countering Russia cyberthreat, top general says

· German political foundation “attacked” by suspected Russian hacking group

· Putin ‘targeting UK government’ as Kremlin focuses on Britain amid Russian spy scandal

· Suspected Russian nerve gas attack on ex-spy marks 100 years of MI5 countering Russian espionage operations in U.K.

· U.S. voting systems remain outdated, unsecure despite Russia’s interference in 2016 election: study

There’s more to Russia’s cyber interference than the Mueller probe suggests (Ryan C. Maness and Margarita Jaitner, Washington Post)
An underlying theme running through special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation is that Russia’s ultimate goal was to make sure Donald Trump was elected president. That’s just part of the picture. Our research looks at Russian cyber and information warfare activity — and distinct patterns begin to emerge. But this is a nonlinear strategy and a long-term assault on Russia’s adversaries. Although boosting the Trump campaign may have been one of Russia’s primary goals in 2016, the 2020 goal could just as easily be helping the president’s Democratic challenger.

The cyberwar that never happened: How Obama backed down from a counterstrike against Russia(Jerry Adler, Yahoo)
In the summer of 2016, as evidence mounted of Russian meddling in the U.S. election, a team in the White House began work on a far-reaching counterstrike against Russian media, the Kremlin oligarchy, and Putin personally — plans that were shelved when President Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, ordered the staffers to “stand down.” The details of the project, and the debate within the administration of how aggressively to confront Moscow, are told in a new book, “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump,”by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones.

EUCOM Commander: Moscow targeting Balkans with misinformation campaigns (John Grady, USNI News)

The Balkans are “an area we could have problems with in the future” as the Kremlin increases the tempo of its disinformation campaigns in Serbia and nations with large Serb populations, like Kosovo and Bosnia, the nation’s top commander in Europe warned Thursday. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti testified, “Russia is at work in the Balkans, and we have kind of taken our eye off the area.”

Mueller’s choice of criminal charges: Why the Trump team should be very worried(Sam Berger, Just Security)
Ryan Goodman recently highlightedan important revelation contained in the memo written by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee: Not only had the Russians told the Trump campaign that they had dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails, but they had also previewed for George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser on the campaign, that they could help with disseminating them. This revelation would suggest significant legal exposure on its own. But when viewed within the broader context of what we know about the Russia investigation, it is further evidence of an extremely troubling pattern of interactions between the Trump campaign and Russia-linked operatives, which show an intertwining of two campaigns to elect Donald Trump: one run out of Trump Tower and one run out of the Kremlin.

US not effectively countering Russia cyberthreat, top general says (FoxNews2Now)
The top US general in Europe has said he does not believe there is a unified effort across the US government to confront Russian cyberthreats.

German political foundation “attacked” by suspected Russian hacking group (RFE/RL)
German public prosecutors have opened an investigation into a suspected cyberattack on a Berlin-based political foundation carried out by a Russian hacking group, according to a report. Authorities suspect the notorious Russian hacking group known as “Fancy Bear” or “APT28” was behind the December 2016 attack on the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), according to a report by German news outlet Spiegel Online.

Putin ‘targeting UK government’ as Kremlin focuses on Britain amid Russian spy scandal (Paul Harper, Daily Star)
Putin’s hackers are still “intent on targeting the UK government” amid the suspected ex-spy poisoning scandal, it is feared.

Suspected Russian nerve gas attack on ex-spy marks 100 years of MI5 countering Russian espionage operations in U.K. (Mark Morris, Mirror)
Russian spies have been a thorn in the Security Service MI5’s side since the Russian Revolution in 1917

U.S. voting systems remain outdated, unsecure despite Russia’s interference in 2016 election: study (Chris Sommerfeldt (New York Daily News)
Despite alarming and repeated warnings from the U.S. intelligence community, the country’s voting systems remain outdated and could once again be susceptible to Russian hacking when Americans head to the polls for this year’s midterm elections, according to a new study.