• Russian agents bought ads on Google platforms, targeting voters in crucial swing states

    Google says Russian agents have purchased ads on YouTube, Google Search, Gmail, and the company’s DoubleClick ad network. Some of the ads touted Donald Trump, while other ads aimed to help Trump indirectly: They promoted the candidacies of Bernie Sanders and the Green party candidate Jill Stein in order to weaken Hillary Clinton among left-leaning voters. The purpose of other ads was to sow discord, deepen social divisions, and intensify racial animosity: These ads talked about the threat to America posed by immigrants, African American activists, and members of the LGBT community, aiming to intensify backlash against these groups, and the politicians who spoke on their behalf, among White and more traditional voters. Many of the ads targeted voters in crucial swing states.

  • Social media is “first tool” of 21st-century warfare – and it’s cheaper than F-35: Sen. Warner

    Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia), the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that there are three things the committee has already established beyond doubt: Russia hacked both political parties and used that information in President Donald Trump’s favor; Russia attacked but did not fully break into the voter registration systems of twenty-one states; Russia used paid advertising and fake accounts on social media to disseminate misinformation to voters. The sophistication of Russia’s cyber campaign was “unprecedented,” Warner said. It was also cheap. Warner noted the amount Moscow spent in total influencing the American, French, and Dutch elections was about a quarter the cost of building an F-35 fighter jet. “If Russia’s goal was primarily to sow chaos … and secondarily elect Mr. Trump, they had a pretty good rate of return,” he said.

  • Software “containers” increase computer security

    ONR has awarded the University of Wisconsin–Madison $6.1 million to research what are known as containers. While not a household word for average computer users, containers are increasingly popular in the tech world. Containers help software run reliably when moved from one computing environment to another, such as from an individual’s laptop to the cloud. These complex programs pull together everything an application needs to work so those elements stay together when the application migrates.

  • ONR awards GrammaTech $9 million for cyber-hardening security research

    Ithaca-based GrammaTech has been awarded a $9 million, three-year contract from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), a division of the United States Department of the Navy, to perform research and development into cutting-edge techniques for protecting software from cyber-attacks. The goal is for end users to be able to transform their critical applications to shrink the attack surface, improve performance, lower memory consumption, and reduce complexity—all without breaking the application or disrupting operations.

  • App-based citizen science experiment to help predict future pandemics

    There are flu outbreaks every year, but in the last 100 years, there have been four pandemics of a particularly deadly flu, including the Spanish Influenza outbreak which hit in 1918, killing up to 100 million people worldwide. Nearly a century later, a catastrophic flu pandemic still tops the U.K. government’s Risk Register of threats to the United Kingdom. A new app gives U.K. residents the chance to get involved in an ambitious science experiment that could save lives.

  • BullyBlocker app tackles SU cyberbullying

    Researchers say that more than half of adolescents have been bullied online. Faculty and students at ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences last month announced the public availability of BullyBlocker, a smartphone application that allows parents and victims of cyberbullying to monitor, predict and hopefully prevent incidents of online bullying.

  • Russia breaks into U.S. soldiers' iPhones in apparent hybrid warfare attacks

    The U.S. Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group, in charge of finding ways to counter emerging threats, recently issued warning about the dangers of Russia’s hybrid warfighting concepts, saying that the U.S. military as a whole may be ill-suited to respond to them in a crisis. Now, American troops and troops from NATO member states say they have been subjected to a campaign of surveillance and harassment via their cellphones, the internet, and social media, a campaign which is the hallmark of the “Russian New Generation Warfare.”

  • Lawmaker questions voting machine manufacturers on security measures

    Following interference by Russian government operatives in the 2016 election, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) has asked the top six U.A. manufactures of voting machines how they are protecting Americans’ votes from hacking. Wyden sent similar letters to two voting system test laboratories accredited by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

  • DOD wants to be able to detect the online presence of social bots

    Russian government operatives used social bots in the run up to the 2016 presidential campaign to sow discord and dissention, discredit political institutions, and send targeted messages to voters to help Donald Trump win the election. DARPA is funding research to detect the online presence of social bots.

  • Senate panel passes bipartisan “Hack DHS” bill

    On Wednesday, 4 October, the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed the bipartisan Hack Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Act, whichwould establish a bug bounty pilot program – modeled off of similar programs at the Department of Defense and major tech companies – in order to strengthen cyber defenses at DHS by utilizing “white-hat” or ethical hackers to help identify unique and undiscovered vulnerabilities in the DHS networks and information technology.

  • “Cardiac password” project uses the wave of the heart motion for authentication

    One of the unique features for the upcoming iPhone X is facial recognition security, where users can simply unlock their phones by holding it up to their face and allowing the phone’s security measures to identify the correct user. However, it seems just as soon as new means of authentication are developed and put into use, hackers find a way around them, from hacking passwords to faking fingerprints to fool biometric security systems. But there may be one authentication method that cannot be hacked: Cardiac password.

  • Bipartisan bill to help secure the electric grid

    Last week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introducing H.R. 3855, the Securing The Electric Grid to Protect Military Readiness Act of 2017. H.R. 3855, if enacted, would require the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Director of National Intelligence, and the Secretaries of Energy and Homeland Security, to submit to Congress a report detailing significant security risks to defense critical electric infrastructure posed by malicious cyber-enabled activities.

  • Stanford Cyber Initiative addresses cybersecurity, governance, and the future of work

    Daily headlines emphasize the down side of technology: cyberattacks, election hacking and the threat of fake news. In response, government organizations are scrambling to understand how policy should shape technology’s role in governance, security and jobs. The Stanford Cyber Initiative is bringing together scholars from all over campus to confront the challenges technology presents.

  • Flooding the zone: “Junk news” targeted key U.S. swing states in run-up to 2016 U.S. election

    Russia’s use of social media to sow discord, discredit U.S. democracy, and help Donald Trump win the 2016 election was more sophisticated and targeted than initially thought. Oxford University researchers found that voters in key swing states were exposed to larger amounts of “junk news” in the run-up to the U.S. presidential election last year than voters in non-swing states. The researchers say this type of content – most of it deliberately produced false reporting — uses divisive and inflammatory rhetoric, and presents faulty reasoning or misleading information to manipulate the reader’s understanding of public issues and feed conspiracy theories. Arizona was the swing state with the highest junk news concentration, followed by Missouri, Nevada, and Florida.

  • Tracing the sources of today’s Russian cyberthreat

    Cyberspace is an active battleground, with cybercriminals, government agents and even military personnel probing weaknesses in corporate, national and even personal online defenses. Some of the most talented and dangerous cybercrooks and cyberwarriors come from Russia, which is a longtime meddler in other countries’ affairs. Over decades, Russian operators have stolen terabytes of data, taken control of millions of computers and raked in billions of dollars. They’ve shut down electricity in Ukraine and meddled in elections in the U.S. and elsewhere. They’ve engaged in disinformation and disclosed pilfered information such as the emails stolen from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, following successful spearphishing attacks. Who are these operators, why are they so skilled and what are they up to?