• Countering Russian election hacks

    According to a Center for Public Integrity report, the “U.S. military hackers have been given the go-ahead to gain access to Russian cyber systems as part of potential retaliation for any meddling in America’s elections.” Eric Jensen writes in Just Security that this signals a significant change to the U.S. cyber policy and is a clear indication that cyber actions have now entered the mainstream of national security tools. “For years, the “newness” of cyber capabilities have caused the level of authorization to remain at very high levels and subject to extensive interagency dialogue before even simple cyber tasks could be taken. These procedural requirements undoubtedly had the practical effect of limiting the number of cyber activities undertaken. By allowing DoD and other government agencies to function more autonomously within pre-approved guidelines reflects a normalization of cyber capabilities that has been too long in coming.”

  • Unhackable computer relying on firmware security rather than software patches

    By turning computer circuits into unsolvable puzzles, researchers aim to create an unhackable computer. The MORPHEUS project’s cybersecurity approach is dramatically different from today’s, which relies on software—specifically software patches to vulnerabilities that have already been identified. It’s been called the “patch and pray” model, and it’s not ideal. “Instead of relying on software Band-Aids to hardware-based security issues, we are aiming to remove those hardware vulnerabilities in ways that will disarm a large proportion of today’s software attacks,” says Linton Salmon, manager of DARPA’s System Security Integrated Through Hardware and Firmware program.

  • Days after synagogue massacre, online hate is thriving

    A website popular with racists that was used by the man charged in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre was shut down within hours of the slaughter, but it hardly mattered: Anti-Semites and racists who hang out in such havens just moved to other online forums.

  • Hate speech is still easy to find on social media

    The alleged Pittsburgh synagogue shooter’s activity on the Gab social media site has drawn attention to that site’s role as a hate-filled alternative to more mainstream options like Facebook and Twitter. Those are among the social media platforms that have promised to fight hate speech and online abuse on their sites. However, as I explored online activity in the wake of the shooting, it quickly became clear to me that the problems are not just on sites like Gab. Rather, hate speech is still easy to find on mainstream social media sites, including Twitter. I also identified some additional steps the company could take.

  • Hate crimes expert fears that shootings like Pittsburgh could become more common

    The gunman who killed 11 congregants at a Pittsburgh synagogue last Saturday could herald a new era of hate crimes, according to an expert who has tracked similar attacks since the 1990s. “We have more people drawn to white supremacist rhetoric who see themselves as on a mission to change the world,” said one criminologist. The Pittsburgh shooter’s online activity distinguished him from the majority of people who commit hate crimes. He was a deeply committed white supremacist who steeped himself in anti-Semitic and xenophobic propaganda.

  • Mathematicians to help solve the fake news voting conundrum

    With the American midterm elections around the corner, rumors of a U.K. general election in the winter, and a potential second referendum on Brexit, mathematicians have produced a mathematical model that details the impact of fake news on voting behavior.

  • Fighting email scammers by taking a different view. Literally.

    A team of researchers is helping law enforcement crackdown on email scammers, thanks to a new visual analytics tool that dramatically speeds up forensic email investigations and highlights critical links within email data. Email scams are among the most prevalent, insidious forms of cybercrime.

  • White House MIA on midterm elections security

    The United States is less than a week away from the 2018 midterms, but the Trump administration has not put together a substantive, coordinated effort to fight disinformation or possible election interference. Law enforcement, homeland security, and intelligence officials held one 90-minute meeting at the Justice Department late last month and left without any answers. No one from the White House attended. In the absence of White House leadership or an overarching strategy, some agencies have taken individual actions. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has stepped forward and convened her own meetings with agency leaders on election security issues.

  • Target USA: Key takeaways from the Kremlin’s “Project Lakhta”

    On 19 October, the Department of Justice announced charges against Elena Khusyaynova, a St. Petersburg-based accountant, for working as part of a conspiracy to wage “information warfare against the United States of America.” According to the FBI, Khusyaynova worked as the chief accountant for “Project Lakhta,” a Russian interference operation targeting citizens in the United States, EU, Ukraine, and Russia. The new charges confirm many assessments of the conduct and strategy behind Russia’s Internet Research Agency, and also highlight several key aspects of the Kremlin’s ongoing influence campaign in the United States.

  • Study finds marked rise in far right’s use of anti-Semitic attacks on social media

    Continuing what began during the 2016 presidential election, the members of far-right extremist groups and the so-called “Alt Right” have stepped up “online propaganda offensives” in the runup to the upcoming midterm elections to attack and try to intimidate Jews and especially Jewish journalists, according to a new study. The most popular term used by Trump supporters “by one or two orders of magnitude” was “Soros,” referring to George Soros, the Jewish billionaire that anti-Semites use to blame for anyone who resists conservatives.

  • White supremacists' anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant sentiments often intersect

    Robert Bowers, the suspect in Saturday’s deadly shooting spree in Pittsburgh, appears to have hated Jews for a variety of reasons, but one anti-Semitic trope in particular seems to have motivated him in the days prior to the shooting, and may have even played a role in his decision to unleash his hateful attack: the common white supremacist conspiracy theory that Jews are behind efforts to impose mass immigration on the United States, with the goal of harming or destroying the white race.

  • Conspiracy theories about Soros aren’t just false. They’re anti-Semitic.

    Blaming Jewish outsiders for dissent and social unrest isn’t new. On Monday eight days ago, a pipe bomb was sent to the home of George Soros, the billionaire whose Open Society Foundation supports many liberal causes in many countries. Soros’s name has also become a central element in conspiracy theories around the world. Talia Lavin writes in the Washington Post that it is no surprise that Soros would wind up as a target of a bomber who appears to have been an avid consumer of conspiracy theories. Soros has become the subject of “escalating rhetoric on the right… which posits Soros as a nefarious force, fomenting social dissent and paying members of a migrant ‘caravan, that has been the subject of intense right-wing fearmongering leading up to the November midterms. And that rhetoric draws on old, and deep-rooted, anti-Semitic ideas that have been deployed by the right for decades.”

  • New techniques expose your browsing history to attackers

    Security researchers have discovered four new ways to expose Internet users’ browsing histories. These techniques could be used by hackers to learn which websites users have visited as they surf the web. The techniques fall into the category of “history sniffing” attacks, a concept dating back to the early 2000s. But the attacks can profile or ‘fingerprint’ a user’s online activity in a matter of seconds, and work across recent versions of major web browsers.

  • Safeguarding the U.S. energy infrastructure

    Nearly every aspect of our daily lives — from shopping for groceries through a smartphone app to keeping up with friends and family on social media, or relying on smart grid technology to power homes and businesses – is connected to the vast world of the internet. Because of this, it might seem as if there’s nothing we can do to protect ourselves from a cyberattack. Experts disagree. “Even though computer systems are complex, the network-connected physical components that operate the power grid – such as the transformers, tap changers, and power inverters, for example – have characteristics about their operation that may make cybersecurity more tractable. Specifically, these physical components obey the laws of physics,” says LBL’s Sean Peisert.

  • “Network propaganda” explored

    Conversations surrounding the 2016 U.S. presidential election often involve references to “fake news,” Russian interference, data breaches, and the impact of various social media platforms on the divisive outcome. A new book from researchers at the Berkman Klein Center (BKC) that has its origins in a three-year study of the media ecosystem surrounding the election disrupts this narrative.