The Russia watchRussia already hacking midterms; Russia in Africa: Death and diamonds; Maria Butina’s influence, and more

Published 9 August 2018

  Hackers already attacking midterm elections, raising U.S. alarms

  U.S. think tank’s tiny lab helps Facebook battle fake social media

  Russia’s latest attempt to smear Bellingcat over MH17: Unsuccessful

  Beyond the NRA: Maria Butina’s peculiar bid for Russian influence

  Senate asks Julian Assange to testify in Russia investigation

  Twitter botnets are becoming more sophisticated

  Why aren’t we worrying about Russia attacking our power supply?

  How Russia persecutes its dissidents using U.S. courts

  Death, diamonds and Russia’s Africa project

  The Russia that Republicans love doesn’t exist

  Believe it or not, Trump’s following a familiar script on Russia

  Leaked document: Putin lobbied Trump on arms control

Hackers already attacking midterm elections, raising U.S. alarms (Alyza Sebenius, Bloomberg)
The U.S. midterm elections are at increasing risk of interference by foreign adversaries led by Russia, and cybersecurity experts warn the Trump administration isn’t adequately defending against the meddling. At stake is control of the U.S. Congress. The risks range from social media campaigns intended to fool American voters to sophisticated computer hacking that could change the tabulation of votes. At least three congressional candidates have already been hit with phishing attacks that strongly resemble Russian sabotage in the 2016 campaign. Among them was Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat in one of the year’s most hotly contested races.

U.S. think tank’s tiny lab helps Facebook battle fake social media (Joseph Menn. US News)
A day before Facebook announced that it had discovered and disabled a propaganda campaign designed to sow dissension among U.S. voters, it exclusively shared some of the suspicious pages with an online forensics team so busy it hasn’t put a nameplate on the door. The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab is based in a 12-foot-by-12-foot office in the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the nearly 60-year-old Council, a think tank devoted to studying serious and at times obscure international issues.
Facebook is using the group to enhance its investigations of foreign interference. Last week, the company said it took down 32 suspicious pages and accounts that purported to be run by leftists and minority activists. While some U.S. officials said they were likely the work of Russian agents, Facebook said it did not know for sure. It fell to the lab to point out similarities to fake Russian pages from 2016 during Facebook’s news conference last week.