• Senate Intel Committee: Russia Used Social Media to support Donald Trump “at the direction of the Kremlin”

    On Tuesday, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a new report, titled Russia’s Use of Social Media. It is the second volume released in the Committee’s bipartisan investigation into Russia’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. election. The new report examines Russia’s efforts to use social media to sow societal discord and influence the outcome of the 2016 election, led by the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency (IRA). The Committee found that the IRA sought to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election by harming Hillary Clinton’s chances of success and supporting Donald Trump at the direction of the Kremlin.  The Committee found that IRA social media activity was overtly and almost invariably supportive of then-candidate Trump to the detriment of Secretary Clinton’s campaign. 

  • Independent Adviser Calls for Overhaul of U.K. Counter-Extremism Strategy

    The U.K. government’s independent advisor on extremism is calling for a complete overhaul of the government’s strategy – recommending a new taskforce led by the Home Secretary. The U.K. Commission for Countering Extremism on Monday, 7 October, published its findings and recommendations in a new report, Challenging Hateful Extremism.

  • Independent Adviser Calls for Overhaul of U.K. Counter-Extremism Strategy

    The U.K. government’s independent advisor on extremism is calling for a complete overhaul of the government’s strategy – recommending a new taskforce led by the Home Secretary. The U.K. Commission for Countering Extremism on Monday, 7 October, published its findings and recommendations in a new report, Challenging Hateful Extremism.

  • Free Speech Is Killing Us

    There has never been a bright line between word and deed. Yet, for years, the founders of Facebook and Twitter and 4chan and Reddit tried to pretend that the noxious speech prevalent on those platforms wouldn’t metastasize into physical violence. Andrew Marantz writes in the New York Times that in the early years of this decade, back when people associated social media with Barack Obama or the Arab Spring, Twitter executives referred to their company as “the free-speech wing of the free-speech party.” “No one believes that anymore,” Marantz writes. Marantz says that after spending the past few years embedded as a reporter with the trolls and bigots and propagandists who are experts at converting fanatical memes into national policy, “I no longer have any doubt that the brutality that germinates on the internet can leap into the world of flesh and blood.” He adds: “The question is where this leaves us. Noxious speech is causing tangible harm. Yet this fact implies a question so uncomfortable that many of us go to great lengths to avoid asking it. Namely, what should we — the government, private companies or individual citizens — be doing about it?”

  • U.K. Government Drive to Tackle Extremism Is “Inadequate”

    The drive to tackle extremism in the United Kingdom is failing because the government’s response is “inadequate” and “unfocused,” according to an official report published Monday. Extremist activity is contributing to a climate of censorship and fear, limiting expression, religion and belief while those countering it receive little support. The report warns that hateful, hostile and supremacist beliefs are increasingly visible in the U.K. today. “The Far Right’s narratives of a racial or cultural threat to “natives” from “aliens” have been making their way into the mainstream. “As are Islamists’ ideas for defending a single politicized and communal Muslim identity against the West’s corrupting influence. And the Far Left’s conflation of anti-imperialist and antisemitism”, it said.

  • Iranian Government Hackers Target U.S. Presidential Campaign: Microsoft

    Microsoft announced on Friday that a hacking group linked to the Iranian government has carried out a campaign against a U.S. presidential candidate. The group, which the tech giant named Phosphorous, made more than 2,700 attempts during a 30-day period between August and September to identify customer e-mail accounts. The hackers managed to hack into 241 of them. On Thursday, DHS and the FBI circulated a memo to state election officials warning that Russia will likely seek to interfere in the 2020 elections by discouraging voters or utilizing voter suppression tactics.

  • New Institute to Lead Government, Industry Effort to Make 5G More Secure

    5G wireless technology promises to deliver a technology revolution in wireless communication. Already, wireless carriers and equipment manufacturers are incorporating 5G capabilities in their devices and working to construct national 5G networks. As the 5G revolution moves forward, a national challenge will emerge to develop and validate 5G security protocols and data protection technologies. To respond to this challenge, Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has established the INL Wireless Security Institute to lead and coordinate government, academic, and private industry research efforts fostering more secure and reliable 5G wireless technology.

  • Democrats Must Act Now to Deter Foreign Interference in the 2020 Election

    Parts of the U.S. government, such as the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, as well as state authorities, are working to prevent foreign interference in American elections, “but even with a Herculean effort, the country’s defenses against political warfare, especially in the cyber domain, are weak and porous. Such attacks are easy to execute, but difficult and expensive to thwart. The threat is evolving and will be different than it was in 2016. There are many targets,” Thomas Wright writes. “When defense is difficult, deterrence becomes important. One way to deal with election interference is to convince foreign adversaries that the cost might outweigh the gains, thus persuading them not to attack. This is where Trump’s position is so damaging, seeking to punish interference against him, but openly welcoming interference on his behalf.”

  • U.S., U.K. and Australia to Call on Facebook to Create Backdoor to Encrypted Messages

    The United States, United Kingdom, and Australia will pressure Facebook to create a backdoor into its encrypted messaging apps which would allow governments to access the content of private communications, according to an open letter from top government officials to Mark Zuckerberg. The letter is expected to be released Friday. Law enforcement agencies have long argues that encrypted communications, while protecting privacy, also shields criminals and terrorists, making investigations of crimes and acts of terror much more difficult.

  • U.S. Officials Taking Putin Election Comments Seriously

    U.S. security officials are not laughing at the latest comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin about the Kremlin’s attempts to interfere in U.S. elections. Putin, speaking at an economic forum in Moscow Wednesday, dismissed U.S. allegations that Russia meddled in both the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the 2018 mid-term election as “ridiculous.” Despite Putin’s comments, U.S. security and intelligence officials have said, consistently, that they have seen indications Russia will try to interfere with the upcoming 2020 presidential elections.

  • A Bipartisan Step Toward Securing Our Election Infrastructure

    Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $250 million in funds to support state and local government efforts to strengthen election security ahead of the 2020 elections. The Committee’s action is an acknowledgment that securing elections from foreign interference is a bipartisan priority that requires more funding and continuous vigilance.

  • Child Exploitation and the Future of Encryption

    On Sept. 28, the New York Times published a harrowing, in-depth investigative story on the prevalence of child pornography on the internet. The piece describes a staggering increase in the number of reports flagging child sexual abuse imagery online from an already-high one million in 2014 to an almost unfathomable 18.4 million in 2018—an increase of almost 1,750 percent in just four years. a full 12 million came from just one service, Facebook Messenger. But this vital stream of evidence may soon come to an end. The Times notes that, as part of a controversial effort to become more “privacy-focused.”

  • A Federal Backstop for Insuring Against Cyberattacks?

    The effects of warfare can be felt well beyond the battlefield. Businesses are interrupted, property damaged, lives lost—and those at risk often seek to protect themselves through insurance. The premiums that insurers charge, however, rarely account for the immense destructive capacity of modern militaries, making wartime claims a potentially existential threat to their fiscal solvency. For this reason, insurance policies routinely exclude “acts of war” from their coverage, leaving it to governmental authorities to decide whether to compensate the victims of such acts while focusing the insurance sector on other, more conventional risks. But what happens when the battlefield moves into cyberspace?

  • Researchers Trying to Prevent a Repeat of 2016's Election Misinformation in 2020 Are Struggling Thanks to a Lack of Data from Facebook

    Facebook’s promises of sharing detailed amounts of data with researchers and academics to enable them to study and flag disinformation on the site ahead of the 2020 campaign seem to have fallen short, according to a new report from The New York Times. In October 2017, Facebook admitted that 126 million Americans had likely seen Russian misinformation over a two-year period up till August 2017. “Disinformation is still rife on the platform and is continuing to grow,” Mary Hanbury writes. “Last week, research from the University of Oxford showed Facebook was the number one global platform of choice for political parties and governments to spread fake news.”

  • Britain Is “At War Every Day” Due to Constant Cyberattacks, Chief of the Defense Staff says

    The Chief of the U.K. Defense Staff has said that Britain is “at war every day” due to constant cyberattacks from Russia and elsewhere. Russia and China’s “interpretation” of the rules governing international engagement threatened “the ethical and legal basis on which we apply the rule of armed conflict,” General Carter said. “Russia is much more of a threat today than it was five years ago.” He added: “There is still clearly going to be human interaction – warfare is essentially a political function - but it will be a much more sophisticated and will include the new domains [alongside land, sea and air] of space and cyber.”