• How Disinformation Could Sway the 2020 Election

    In 2016, Russian operatives used Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to sow division among American voters and boost Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. What the Russians used to accomplish this is called “disinformation,” which is false or misleading content intended to deceive or promote discord. Now, with the first presidential primary vote only five months away, the public should be aware of the sources and types of online disinformation likely to surface during the 2020 election.

  • Foreign Interference Threat Bigger than Terrorism, Warns Spymaster

    Foreign interference and hostile state espionage are a bigger threat to Australia’s security than terrorism, one of the country’s top spy chiefs has warned. Duncan Lewis, the outgoing head of Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), identified three challenges security confronting Australians: terrorism, cyber warfare; and foreign interference and espionage. But the latter was on a “growth trajectory” and is a greater threat than terrorism, he told a Lowy Institute forum in Sydney.

  • Lega Nord’s Bedfellows: Russians Offering Illicit Funding to Italian Far-Right Party Identified

    In the last four years, the Kremlin has engaged in a broad, systematic campaign – consisting of hacking, a vast social media disinformation effort, and illicit funding – to weaken the West by helping far-right, populist, pro-Russian politicians and movements reach power. One of their successes was in Italy, where the far-right, anti-EU, anti-immigrant Northern League and the eclectic, anti-establishment 5 Star Movement won enough seats in the Fall 2017 election to form a coalition government (which collapsed last week, after more than a 1.5 years in power). Prosecutors in Milan have launched an investigation of The League after recordings emerged of meetings between League leaders and Kremlin emissaries, in which a scheme to secure funding for The League in the upcoming European parliament elections was discussed. The funding – in the millions of Euro – was to be funneled via artificially underpriced Russian oil export transactions.

  • The BBC Joins Up with Google, Facebook, and Twitter to Try to Tackle Misinformation Online

    The BBC is teaming up with some of the biggest names in tech to coordinate a defense against the online disinformation campaigns endemic to some of their platforms, the outlet announced Saturday. Google, Twitter, and Facebook said that they, and the BBC, would come up with a targeted approach which, in part, uses an early warning system during critical periods when the spread of misinformation “threatens human life or disrupts democracy during election,” per the BBC.

  • NOAA’s Chief Scientist Will Investigate Why Agency Backed Trump over Its Experts on Dorian, Email Shows

    NOAA acting chief scientist said he was investigating whether the agency’s response to President Trump’s incorrect claims about the risk Hurricane Dorian posed to Alabama constituted a violation of NOAA policies and ethics. Forecasters in the Birmingham, Alabama office of the National Weather Service (NWS) immediately corrected Trump’s initial (1 September) false claims, but five days later (6 September), two NOAA administrators issued an unsigned press release which appeared to lend support to Trump’s claims. “The NWS Forecaster(s) corrected any public misunderstanding in an expert and timely way, as they should,” the chief scientist, Craig McLean, wrote to NOAA employees. “There followed, last Friday, an unsigned press release from ‘NOAA’ that inappropriately and incorrectly contradicted the NWS forecaster. My understanding is that this intervention to contradict the forecaster was not based on science but on external factors including reputation and appearance, or simply put, political.” Scientists and experts in emergency response harshly criticized NOAA officials for bowing to political pressures and conceding to Trump’s false claims during a weather emergency, when accuracy, messaging, and trust in public safety agencies are vital to keep the public safe.

  • Warning Issued After Malware Is Found to Have Hijacked Bitcoin Blockchain

    Bitcoin’s blockchain has been hijacked by a new strain of the Glupteba malware that uses the network to resist attacks, cyber security researchers have warned. The malware uses the bitcoin blockchain to update, meaning it can continue running even if a device’s antivirus software blocks its connection to servers run by the hackers, security intelligence blog Trend Micro reported this week.

  • Britain Plans Mass Mobile Phone Alerts to Protect Public from Terrorism, Major Floods and Nuclear Attack

    Britain is planning to introduce US-style mass mobile phone alerts to protect the public against terrorism, major floods and nuclear attack. Supporters of so-called ‘cell broadcasting’ claim the message alerts could have saved lives during major incidents including the London Bridge terrorist attack and Grenfell Tower fire. Senior figures have raised concerns, however, that the messages could be hijacked by hackers or malicious foreign powers to induce mass panic.

  • Hostile Social Manipulation by Russia and China: A Growing, Poorly Understood Threat

    With the role of information warfare in global strategic competition becoming much more apparent, a new report delves into better defining and understanding the challenge facing the United States by focusing on the hostile social manipulation activities of the two leading users of such techniques: Russia and China.

  • The Truth About Conspiracy Theories

    Conspiracy theories have been around for hundreds of years, but with the rise of the internet, the speed with which they spread has accelerated and their power has grown. But do they work, who believes them, and why? What kind of damage can they do—and how can we do a better job of controlling that damage, as individuals and as a society? Tufts University Kelly M. Greenhill says that the answers are complicated—but with misinformation proliferating and mutating like a virus, and the health of civil society and democratic governance at stake, it’s crucial to try to address them and contain them.

  • Why the 2020 Campaigns Are Still Soft Targets for Hackers

    Three and a half years have passed since John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, fell for a phishing email—granting Russian hackers, and thereby the world, access to his Gmail account and coming to embody the devastating ways foreign governments can meddle in democratic politics. In light of that trauma, the current crop of presidential campaigns has made progress in fortifying their digital operations. But according to those who have worked with the campaigns on these efforts, they nevertheless remain vulnerable to attack and lack cybersecurity best practices.

  • In a World of Cyber Threats, the Push for Cyber Peace is Growing

    Digital conflict and military action are increasingly intertwined, and civilian targets – private businesses and everyday internet users alike – are vulnerable in the digital crossfire. But there are forces at work trying to promote peace online. It will be a tough challenge.

  • Rating Security of Internet-Connected Devices

    If you’re in the market for an internet-connected garage door opener, doorbell, thermostat, security camera, yard irrigation system, slow cooker—or even a box of connected light bulbs—a new website can help you understand the security issues these shiny new devices might bring into your home.

  • Making “Internet of Things” More Secure

    Devices connected to the internet of things, now becoming standard components in new buildings, can increase energy performance while reducing costs. But such highly connected sensors can also bring potential security vulnerabilities. Several University of Washington schools and offices will team up to research how organizational practices can affect the interagency collaboration needed to keep the “internet of things” — and institutional systems — safe and secure.

  • Insurance Companies Are Fueling Ransomware Attacks

    Ransomware is proliferating across America, disabling computer systems of corporations, city governments, schools and police departments. the FBI and security researchers say paying ransoms contributes to the profitability and spread of cybercrime and in some cases may ultimately be funding terrorist regimes. But for insurers, it makes financial sense, industry insiders said. It holds down claim costs by avoiding expenses such as covering lost revenue from snarled services and ongoing fees for consultants aiding in data recovery. And, by rewarding hackers, it encourages more ransomware attacks, which in turn frighten more businesses and government agencies into buying policies.

  • Disinformation Is Catalyzing the Spread of Authoritarianism Worldwide

    There’s a segment of the American left that believes we’re in no position to be outraged over Russia’s multifaceted campaign to swing the 2016 election to Trump because the U.S. has meddled in its share of elections in other countries. Setting aside the fact that this is a prime example of the tu quoque fallacy, it ignores the specific context of that intervention. Joshua Holland writes in Raw Story that this is not about the U.S. alone. “As I wrote for The Nation in 2017, long before Trump descended on that gaudy golden escalator to announce his candidacy…, Russia had honed its tactics in Estonia, followed soon after by attempts, with varying degrees of success, to disrupt the domestic politics of Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Finland, Bosnia and Macedonia.” It also isn’t about Russia. “As the New York Times reported earlier this year, researchers have ‘discovered numerous copycats, particularly on the far right. Those groups often echo Kremlin talking points, making it difficult to discern the lines between Russian propaganda, far-right disinformation and genuine political debate,’” Holland writes.