• Novel solution to better secure voice over internet communication

    Researchers have developed a novel method to better protect Crypto Phones from eavesdropping and other forms of man-in-the-middle attacks. Crypto Phones consist of smartphone apps, mobile devices, personal computer or web-based Voice over Internet Protocol applications that use end-to-end encryption to ensure that only the user and the person they are communicating with can read what is sent. In order to secure what is being communicated, Crypto Phones require users to perform authentication tasks.

  • Downtime of a top cloud service provider could cost U.S. economy $15 billion

    Businesses in the United States could lose $15 billion if a leading cloud service provider would experience a downtime of at least three days. A new study finds that if a top cloud provider went down, manufacturing would see direct economic losses of $8.6 billion; wholesale and retail trade sectors would see economic losses of $3.6 billion; information sectors would see economic losses of $847 million; finance and insurance sectors would see economic losses of $447 million; and transportation and warehousing sectors would see economic losses of $439 million.

  • World Economic Forum launches new cybersecurity center “to prevent a digital dark age”

    Without collaboration and robust defenses, cyberattacks could cripple economies, nation states, and societies. The World Economic Forum says that urgent action is needed to create safe operating environment for new technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, drones, self-driving cars, and the Internet of Things. The Forum has launched a new Global Center for Cybersecurity, which will offer a platform for governments, companies, and international organizations to diminish the impact of malicious activities on the web.

  • House bill will hold Putin, others accountable for election meddling

    Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) and Brad Schneider (D-Illinois) introduced H.R. 4884, the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act, a House companion to S. 2313 which was introduced by U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) earlier this month. The DETER Act would impose sanctions against Russia should it meddle again and requests a presidential strategy for deterring future interference by China, Iran, North Korea, or any other foreign government.

  • British government’s new “anti-fake news” unit has been tried before – and it got out of hand

    The decision to set up a new National Security Communications Unit to counter the growth of “fake news” is not the first time the UK government has devoted resources to exploit the defensive and offensive capabilities of information. A similar thing was tried in the Cold War era, with mixed results. Details of the new anti-fake news unit are vague, but may mark a return to Britain’s Cold War past and the work of the Foreign Office’s Information Research Department (IRD), which was set up in 1948 to counter Soviet propaganda. This secretive government body worked with politicians, journalists, and foreign governments to counter Soviet lies, through un-attributable “grey” propaganda and confidential briefings on “Communist themes.” IRD eventually expanded from this narrow anti-Soviet remit to protect British interests where they were likely “to be the object of hostile threats.” IRD’s rapid expansion from anti-communist unit to protecting Britain’s interests across the globe also shows that it’s hard to manage information campaigns. Moreover, government penny pinching on defense – a key issue in current debates – could also fail to match the resources at the disposal of the Russian state. In short, the lessons of IRD show that information work is not a quick fix. The British government could learn a lot by visiting the past.

  • Dutch intelligence instrumental in launching FBI’s investigation into U.S. election meddling

    In 2014, Dutch government hackers from AIVD, the Dutch intelligence agency, managed to infiltrate “the computer network of the infamous Russian hacker group Cozy Bear,” a Dutch newspaper reports. A year later, the Dutch operatives witnessed “Russian hackers launching an attack on the Democratic Party in the United States.” The penetration of the Russian network allowed the Dutch intelligence services to provide the FBI with valuable information. The Steele Dossier was taken so seriously by the FBI not only because Christopher Steele was a credible and reliable Russia expert – but because much of the raw intelligence contained in the dossier dovetailed with information the FBI already had from other sources – one of them being Dutch intelligence.

  • Moods can impact cybersecurity behavior

    As professionals return to work after holidays, their moods are undoubtedly affected by the emotional impact of their holiday experiences, but these moods may be more critical to workplace cybersecurity than previously realized. New research suggests that people’s positive or negative moods can affect the likelihood that they will engage in insecure computing behavior in the workplace.

  • Fake news kicks into high gear in Czech presidential runoff

    Jiri Drahos, the pro-West, pro-EU challenger of incumbent Czech president Milos Zeman, came in second in the first round of the Czech presidential election, held 12-13 January. Zeman is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strongest allies in central Europe, and the Russian government’s disinformation specialists have been ordered to help him win the runoff election, which will be held 27-28 January. These specialists have been successful in their social media efforts to boost the political strength of Marine Le Pen and her National Front in France; Geert Wilders and his Party of Freedom in the Netherlands; the Alternative für Deutschalnd (AfD) in Germany; Beppe Grillo and his Five Star movement in Italy; and increase the influence of other populist, ethno-nationalist movements such as Golden Dawn in Greece, Ataka in Bulgaria, and Jobbik in Hungary. They have also helped Donald Trump win the 2016 election. In the last two weeks, these disinformation experts have been targeting Drahos and his pro-West supporters.

  • Making network-connected systems less vulnerable

    The rise of network-connected systems that are becoming embedded seemingly everywhere–from industrial control systems to aircraft avionics–is opening up a host of rich technical capabilities in deployed systems. Even so, as the collective technology project underlying this massive deployment of connectivity unfolds, more consumer, industrial, and military players are turning to inexpensive, commodity off-the-shelf (COTS) devices with general-purpose designs applicable for a range of functionalities and deployment options. While less costly and more flexible, commodity components are inherently less secure than the single-purpose, custom devices they are replacing. DARPA says it trains its sights on the expansive attack surface of commodity off-the-shelf devices.

  • How secure is your data when it’s stored in the cloud?

    Data stored in the cloud is nearly always stored in an encrypted form that would need to be cracked before an intruder could read the information. But as a scholar of cloud computing and cloud security, I’ve seen that where the keys to that encryption are held varies among cloud storage services. In addition, there are relatively simple ways users can boost their own data’s security beyond what’s built into systems they use. Ultimately, for people who don’t want to learn how to program their own tools, there are two basic choices: Find a cloud storage service with trustworthy upload and download software that is open-source and has been validated by independent security researchers. Or use trusted open-source encryption software to encrypt your data before uploading it to the cloud; these are available for all operating systems and are generally free or very low-cost.

  • So what did we learn? Looking back on four years of Russia’s cyber-enabled “Active Measures”

    Americans continue to investigate, deliberate, and wallow in the aftermath of Russia’s rebirth of “Active Measures” designed to defeat their adversaries through the “force of politics rather than the politics of force.” Kremlin interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election represents not only the greatest Active Measures success in Russian history, but the swiftest and most pervasive influence effort in world history. Never has a country, in such a short period of time, disrupted the international order through the use of information as quickly and with such sustained effect as Russia has in the last four years. Russia achieved this victory by investing in capabilities where its adversaries have vulnerabilities — cyberspace and social media. Putin’s greatest success through the employment of cyber-enabled Active Measures comes not from winning any single election, but through the winning of sympathetic audiences around the world he can now push, pull, and cajole from within the borders of his adversaries. Much has been learned about Russia’s hackers and troll farms in the year since the 2016 presidential election, but there remain greater insights worth exploring from a strategic perspective when looking at the Kremlin’s pursuit of information warfare holistically.

  • What we didn’t learn from Twitter’s news dump on Russiagate

    On Friday evening, amid a pending U.S. government shutdown and a presidential porn payoff scandal, Twitter released its long-awaited report on Russian uses of its platform to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. The numbers were striking. Twitter officials said, they had found a cluster of 3,814 accounts that were “a propaganda effort by a Russian government-linked organization known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA).” These were supplemented by a broader project of 50,258 automated accounts — bots — which spread the messaging further. In total, 677,775 people in the United States followed one of these accounts or retweeted or liked a Tweet from these accounts during the election period. Peter Singer writes that social media is about scale and networking, and this combination means that, in actuality, the numbers released by Twitter are far worse than they seem.

  • Rubio, Van Hollen introduce legislation to deter foreign interference in American elections

    U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) on Tuesday introduced the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act. The senators said it sends a powerful message to any foreign actor seeking to disrupt our elections: if you attack American candidates, campaigns, or voting infrastructure, you will face severe consequences. “We cannot be a country where foreign intelligence agencies attempt to influence our political process without consequences,” said Senator Rubio. “This bill will help to ensure the integrity of our electoral process by using key national security tools to dissuade foreign powers from meddling in our elections.”

     

  • EU issues call to action to combat Russian “propaganda”

    The European Commission and lawmakers have accused Russia of orchestrating a “disinformation campaign” aimed at destabilizing the bloc and called for increased measures to combat the threat. “There seems frankly little doubt that the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign is an orchestrated strategy, delivering the same disinformation stories in as many languages as possible, through as many channels as possible, as often as possible,” EU Security Commissioner Julian King told the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 17 January.

  • Declining trust in facts, institutions imposes real costs on U.S. society

    Americans’ reliance on facts to discuss public issues has declined significantly in the past two decades, leading to political paralysis and collapse of civil discourse, according to a RAND report. This phenomenon, referred to as “Truth Decay,” is defined by increasing disagreement about facts, a blurring between opinion and fact, an increase in the relative volume of opinion and personal experience over fact, and declining trust in formerly respected sources of factual information.