• A New Red Scare Is Reshaping Washington

    The Committee on the Present Danger, a long-defunct group that campaigned against the dangers of the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s, has recently been revived with the help of Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, to warn against the dangers of China. “These are two systems that are incompatible,” says Bannon. “One side is going to win, and one side is going to lose.”

  • Republican Voters Are More Likely to Believe in Bigfoot and the Illuminati, While Democratic Voters Are More Likely to Believe in Aliens

    A new Business Insider poll found that Republican voters were statistically more likely to believe in the Illuminati and creatures like Bigfoot, compared to Democratic voters. Democratic voters, meanwhile, were more likely than Republican voters to believe that extraterrestrials have visited earth. Those who self-report believing in chemtrails tend to identify as liberal. Flat-earthers are evenly distributed across the political aisle.

  • Tackling Emerging Cyber-Social Threats

    DoD has awarded a $2.4 million grant to researchers to support the development of research infrastructure to assess social media and blogs in real time and respond to the growing weaponization of online discourse in influencing peacekeeping, and tactical, operational, and strategic operations.

  • FBI, FTC asked to examine whether FaceApp is a Kremlin’s data-collection tool

    FaceApp is a selfie app designed by a Russian programmer, which uses AI-like techniques to apply various changes to faces, making them look older or younger, adding accessories and even changing their race. On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) sent a letter to the FBI and Federal Trade Commission to investigate the data-collecting and data-retention mechanisms of the Russia-based app — and whether the “personal data uploaded by millions of Americans onto FaceApp may be finding its way into the hands of the Russian government.”

  • Gaining Competitive Advantage for the U.S. in the Gray Zone

    The United States is entering a period of intensifying strategic competition with several rivals, most notably Russia and China. U.S. officials expect this competition to be played out primarily below the threshold of armed conflict, in what is sometimes termed the gray zone between peace and war. The United States is ill prepared and poorly organized to compete in this space, but the United States can begin to treat the ongoing gray zone competition as an opportunity more than a risk.

  • How Cyber Weapons Are Changing the Landscape of Modern Warfare

    In the weeks before two Japanese and Norwegian oil tankers were attacked, on 13 June, in the Gulf of Oman—acts which the United States attributes to Iran—American military strategists were planning a cyberattack on critical parts of that country’s digital infrastructure. On 20 June, the United States launched a cyberattack aimed at disabling Iran’s maritime operations. Then, in a notable departure from previous Administrations’ policies, U.S. government officials, through leaks that appear to have been strategic, alerted the world, in broad terms, to what the Americans had done.

  • These Hackers Made an App That Kills to Prove a Point

    Two years ago, researchers Billy Rios and Jonathan Butts discovered disturbing vulnerabilities in Medtronic’s popular MiniMed and MiniMed Paradigm insulin pump lines. An attacker could remotely target these pumps to withhold insulin from patients, or to trigger a potentially lethal overdose. And yet months of negotiations with Medtronic and regulators to implement a fix proved fruitless. So the researchers resorted to drastic measures. They built an Android app that could use the flaws to kill people.

  • U.S. Government Agencies Want to Know More about Russian Trolling

    Two Clemson researchers have been compiling and analyzing the tactics and strategy of social media accounts created by a Russian agency whose goal is to interfere in the U.S. electoral process. The Russians’ “troll factory” is housed in St. Petersburg in the now-famous government-linked Internet Research Agency (IRA). “What the IRA is attempting to do through social media channels is create a one-sided agenda through a marketing campaign,” one researcher said. “It’s not espionage, it’s essentially a guerrilla marketing campaign.” DHS, the U.S. Cyber Command, and other U.S. government agencies want to more about the researchers’ findings.

  • U.S. Offensive Cyber Operations against Economic Cyber Intrusions: An International Law Analysis

    The United States is likely to struggle to make a convincing argument that economic cyber intrusions carried out against it breach international law. Consequently, in most cases the United States would not be able to resort to countermeasures in response. It must therefore show that its offensive cyber operations do not themselves breach international law.

  • The Roots of Labour’s Anti-Semitism Lie Deep within the Populist Left

    “Anti-Semitism is populism in perhaps its purest and most distilled form. It says that politics is indeed a battle between the virtuous masses and a nefarious, corrupt elite – and that that elite is ‘the Jews’. That’s why anti-Semitism carries so many of populism’s distinguishing features, from the fear of an enemy within, to its insistence that the media is bent on distorting reality,” Jonathan Freedland writes. Earlier this year a global study “found that a distinguishing feature of those with a populist worldview is a willingness to believe conspiracy theories, whether on the climate crisis, vaccines, or aliens from outer space. Anti-Semitism is nothing if not an all-encompassing conspiracy theory, suggesting that Jews are the secret rulers of the world.”

  • Russia’s Election Hackers Are Back—and Targeting George Soros

    The Russian intelligence agency behind 2016’s election attacks is training its sights on billionaire financier George Soros. The move comes hot on the heels of a surge in U.S.-focused hacking by Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate with similarities to 2016 in targeting and methodology. The Kremlin’s targeting of Soros and his organization carries echoes of 2016, when the GRU dumped 2,500 files stolen from the Open Society Foundations for the debut of “DC Leaks”, the fake leak site the spies created for their 2016 election interference campaign. 

  • Four Ways Blockchain Could Make the Internet Safer, Fairer, and More Creative

    The internet is unique in that it has no central control, administration or authority, but in recent years internet services such as search engines and social media platforms have increasingly been provided by a small number of very large tech firms. The internet is slowly turning into something like the current financial system, which centrally monitors all transactions and uses that data to predict what people will buy in future. Bitcoin, which surfaced on the internet in 2008, sought to break the influence that large, private bodies have over what we do online. The researchers had finally solved one of the biggest concerns with digital currencies – that they need central control by the companies that operate them, in the same way traditional currencies are controlled by a bank. People researching Bitcoin – and blockchains which undergird it — may have overlooked one of its most useful applications – making the internet better for everyone who uses it.

  • Trump Is Rattling Sabers in Cyberspace — but Is the U.S. Ready?

    While U.S. cyber defenses are improving, some experts worry about how the nation would recover from an even larger strike — such as one on the scale of the suspected Russian cyber-assault that blacked out power to more than 200,000 Ukrainians in 2015. The worst-case scenario, say experts, is that the U.S. gets into an escalating round of hacking attacks with some hostile power that spins out of control — with no plan for what to do next.

  • Cyberattack Attribution and the Virtues of Decentralization

    In the midst of rising tensions between the United States and Iran over tanker attacks and Iran’s downing of a U.S. drone, reports emerged that U.S. Cyber Command had launched a responsive cyber operation against a group linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. As cyber operations by both states heat up, non-governmental actors may play pivotal roles, not just as potential victims and collateral damage from states’ actions, but also as accusers of states.

  • What the Measles Epidemic Really Says about America

    The critic Susan Sontag observed that disease can serve as a metaphor—a reflection of the society through which it travels. Now, a virus is offering insights into the country’s psychic and civic condition. Two decades ago, measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. Yet in the first five months of this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 1,000 cases—more than occurred from 2000 to 2010. Three cultural conditions have contributed to the resurgence of measles in the United States. One is historical forgetting: contemporary America suffers from a dangerous lack of historical memory. The second is diminished trust in government. As distrust of government has grown, so too has distrust of vaccines. The third is a population that suffers from overconfidence in its own amateur knowledge. This third condition is especially dangerous: It’s one thing to Google a food to see whether it’s healthy. It’s quite another to dismiss decades of studies on the benefits of vaccines because you’ve watched a couple of YouTube videos.