• Terrorism lawsuits threaten lawful speech: 2018 in review

    One of the most important principles underpinning the Internet is that if you say something illegal, you should be held responsible for it—not the owners of the site or service where you said it. That principle has seen many threats this year—not just in federal legislation, but also in a string of civil lawsuits intended to pin liability on online platforms for allegedly providing material support to terrorists.

  • Social media efforts to combat foreign interference

    In the wake of revelations throughout 2017 that Russia had exploited social media platforms to influence the 2016 presidential election, executives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on 31 October 2017 to discuss foreign interference on their platforms. Over ten months later, on 5 September 2018, representatives from tech giants were again called to Capitol Hill to update lawmakers on their efforts in the lead-up to the midterm elections. A new report reviews and analyzes the steps taken by online information platforms to better defend against foreign interference since 2016, specifically focusing on three lines of effort: policies to address inauthentic behavior, measures to improve advertising transparency, and forward-looking investments and external partnerships.

  • The IRA and political polarization in the United States

    Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) launched an extended attack on the United States by using computational propaganda to misinform and polarize U.S. voters. A new report from the Computational Propaganda roject at Oxford University’s Oxford Internet Institute (OII) provides the first major analysis of this attack based on data provided by social media firms to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). The analysis answers several key questions about the activities of the known IRA accounts, and identifies which aspects of the IRA’s campaign strategy got the most traction on social media and the means of microtargeting U.S. voters with particular messages.

  • Cybercrime is on the rise, and Norway is worried

    As society becomes ever more technology-driven and digitized, electronic crime is rising along with it. In Norway, cybercrime results in an annual loss of 0.64 percent of Norway’s GDP — this amounts to NOK 19 billion ($2.2 billion) a year, money that does not benefit society.

  • A personality trait puts you at risk for cybercrime

    Impulse online shopping, downloading music and compulsive email use are all signs of a certain personality trait that make you a target for malware attacks. New research examines the behaviors – both obvious and subtle – that lead someone to fall victim to cybercrime involving Trojans, viruses and malware.

  • Russian social-media-interference operations “active and ongoing”: Senate Intel Committee

    The Russian influence campaign on social media in the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign sought to help Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election by deepening divisions among Americans and suppressing turnout among Democratic voters, according to a report produced for the Senate Intelligence Committee. “What is clear is that all of the [Russian social media] messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican Party — and specifically Donald Trump,” the report says. “Increasingly, we’ve seen how social media platforms intended to foster open dialogues can be used by hostile foreign actors seeking to manipulate and subvert public opinion,” said the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina). “Most troublingly, it shows that these activities have not stopped.”

  • Russian interference: Far, wide, ongoing, and successful

    Thanks to the bipartisan, exhaustive work of the Senate Intelligence Committee, we now know more about Russia’s broad, sustained effort to help Donald Trump win the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. This effort was similar to Russia’s interference campaign in more than two dozen other countries, aiming to bring to power – or increase the power of – leaders, parties, and movements who would be more accommodating toward Russia’s interests. Here is how the U.S. media covered the two important reports written based on material gathered by the Intel Committee.

  • Significance vulnerabilities discovered in high-performance computer chips

    Researchers have uncovered significant and previously unknown vulnerabilities in high-performance computer chips that could lead to failures in modern electronics. The researchers found they could damage the on-chip communications system and shorten the lifetime of the whole computer chip significantly by deliberately adding malicious workload.

  • Demagogues on the right and left use digital tools to exploit popular resentment, dissatisfaction

    The digital era has spurred many advancements in many areas of human society, but it has also led to growing instability and inequality, notes Tom Wheeler, a Visiting Fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings’ Center for Technology Innovation. At the political level, the digital engine which is driving economic and social instability also provides the tools to exploit the resulting dissatisfaction so as to threaten liberal democratic capitalism, he argues.

  • The time of the trolls

    The West woke up to the threat of Kremlin trolls in 2016, however it had already been very damaging in 2014–2015. The Ukraine crisis saw the deployment of trolls to Facebook and VKontakte, as well as YouTube and Twitter. The investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election showed that trolling was never completely dependent on a technology like bots, nor that it was predominantly about Kremlin employees sitting somewhere in Russia manufacturing anti-Clinton propaganda. Rather, it was ordinary Americans and Europeans that were sharing the messages launched by trolls, and often posting them themselves.

  • Memes are taking the alt-right’s message of hate mainstream

    Think of an internet meme and you’ll probably smile. The most memorable viral images are usually funny, from Distracted Boyfriend to classics like Grumpy Cat. But some memes have a much more sinister meaning. They might look as innocuous as a frog, but are in fact symbols of hate. And as memes have become more political, these hateful examples have increasingly found their way onto mainstream social media platforms.

  • Sen. Warner: Moscow has closed cyber gap with U.S.

    The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee warns the United States is being outgunned in cyberspace, already having lost its competitive advantage to Russia while China is rapidly closing in. “When it comes to cyber, misinformation and disinformation, Russia is already our peer and in the areas of misinformation or disinformation, I believe is ahead of us,” Senator Mark Warner told an audience Friday in Washington.

  • “Big picture” platforms boost fight against online terror activity

    The fight against terrorism-related content and illegal financing online is speeding up thanks to new platforms that join up different internet-scouring technologies to create a comprehensive picture of terrorist activity. The idea is that when an online tool discovers a fragment of information it can be added to a constellation of millions of others - revealing links that might otherwise have gone undetected or taken much longer to uncover.

  • Butina pleads guilty to meddling in U.S. politics under the direction of “Russian Official”

    ABC News has obtained a copy of Maria Butina’s plea agreement, and she has decided to plead guilty to conspiracy charges and cooperate with authorities’ ongoing investigations. Butina admits that she and an unnamed “U.S. Person 1,” which sources have identified as longtime Republican operative Paul Erickson, with whom she had a multiyear romantic relationship, “agreed and conspired, with a Russian government official (“Russian Official”) and at least one other person, for Butina to act in the United States under the direction of Russian Official without prior notification to the Attorney General.”

  • Bolstering cyber-physical systems security

    Researchers have been awarded a grant of nearly $1 million to develop stronger safeguards for a wide array of complex systems that rely on computers – from public water supply systems and electric grids to chemical plants and self-driving vehicles. Increasingly, these cyber-physical systems, or CPS, are threatened by both physical and cyberattacks.