• Digital spooksMI6 to recruit hundreds more staff in response to advances in digital technology,

    MI6, the U.K.’s overseas intelligence service, is set to recruit hundreds more digital specialists over the next four years in response to the ever-growing digital threats and challenges posed by advancing digital technology. MI6 employs 2,500 people, and the agency focuses on intelligence-gathering and operations outside the United Kingdom. MI5 is in charge of security within the United Kingdom (James Bond worked for MI6). In a rare public appearance, Alex Younger, the head of MI6, said of terrorism: “regrettably, this is an enduring issue which will certainly be with us, I believe, for our professional lifetime.”

  • CyberespionageSophisticated espionage platform covertly extracts encrypted government communications

    Kaspersky Lab announced the other day that its researchers have discovered what they described as a “nation-state threat actor” — named ProjectSauron — who was targeting state organizations. “The cost, complexity, persistence, and ultimate goal of the operation, stealing confidential and secret information from state-sensitive organizations, suggest the involvement or support of a nation state,” Kaspersky Lab says. ProjectSauron “gives the impression of being an experienced and traditional actor who has put considerable effort into learning from other extremely advanced actors,” and “ adopting some of their most innovative techniques and improving on their tactics in order to remain undiscovered.”

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  • EspionageDHS grant supports research into espionage prevention

    Researchers have received a $649,172 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to strengthen insider threat detection. The research will involve building an insider threat detection system to prepare for real-world situations wherein a disgruntled employee or even a corporate spy could abscond with valuable information. The researchers are not interested in finding the culprit after an attack has already occurred.

  • CybersecurityRussian government hackers leaked DNC e-mails: Cybersecurity experts

    Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, said on Sunday that Friday’s release by WikiLeaks of Democratic National Committee (DNC) internal e-mails was the work of Russian government hackers. The leak, Mook said, was part of an effort by President Vladimir Putin and people in his circle to weaken Clinton and increase the chances of a Donald Trump victory in November. Cybersecurity experts support Mook’s claims.

  • Cloak & daggerLitvinenko murder “ordered from the top”: Gordon Brown

    Gordon Brown, the former British PM, has said that the murder of Alexander Litvinenki, a fierce critic of Vladimir Putin, was “ordered from the top.” Gordon made the claim in a new book, adding that the British government was aware of another assassination attempt planned by the Kremlin on British soil. Litvinenko was poisoned in November 2006 with a cup of radioactive tea in a Mayfair hotel.

  • HackingPresidential campaigns spied on by foreign hackers with “a variety of motivations”

    National Intelligence Director James Clapper said that the campaigns of all the candidates for president are being spied on by foreign hackers with “a variety of motivations.” Clapper said that the acts of espionage against the campaigns may only just be getting started. “As the campaigns intensify we’ll probably have more of it,” Clapper noted.

     

  • Spooks & scholarsStudying collaboration between research, intelligence communities

    In 2013, NC State University and the National Security Agency (NSA) created the Laboratory for Analytic Sciences (LAS) — a collaborative partnership focused on addressing the research challenges associated with “big data.” They soon discovered that a funny thing happens when academic researchers collaborate with the intelligence community: they feel like they are being spied on.

  • Intelligence sharingCanada’s intelligence agency halts intelligence sharing with international partners

    Canada’s Communications Security Establishment (CSE), the country electronic signals intelligence agency, said it has stopped sharing intelligence with several close international partners after disclosing it had illegally collected the communication metadata of Canadian citizens in the process of eavesdropping on foreign communications. In a report to parliament last Thursday, CSE said the breach was unintentional, and that it had been discovered internally in 2013.

  • Sky spooksVulture arrested in Lebanon for spying for Israel

    A transmitter-equipped vulture from an Israeli nature reserve has been captured and detained in Lebanon after flying across the border. The Lebanese authorities arrested the vulture on suspicion of spying for Israel. The Lebanese security services ordered the release of the bird after an investigation found that it did not pose a threat.

  • Cloak & daggerKremlin behind London killing of Putin critic: Inquiry commission

    A public commission looking into the 2006 murder in London of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent who turned into a vociferous critic of Vladimir Putin, has concluded that his poisoning by radioactive materials was ordered by the Kremlin. Russian agents who met with him in November 2006 dropped a small amount of Polonium-210 into the cup of green tea he was drinking. He died three weeks later.

  • CybersecurityFollowing indictments, China’s military reduces its commercial cybeespionage against American companies

    The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has reduced its cyberespionage activity targeting American companies since five PLA officers were indicted by the Department of Justice in May 2014. “The indictments had an amazing effect in China, more than we could have hoped for,” said one expert. In April, Obama signed an executive order calling for impose economic sanctions on individuals and entities that take part in or benefit from illicit cyber-activities such as commercial espionage. “If the indictments had the effect of getting the PLA to scale down, then sanctions likely will have a wider effect on other Chinese state-sponsored groups,” says another expert.

  • U.S. & Syrian refugeesHouse votes for an effective ban on Syrian refugees coming to U.S.

    The House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a bill which slows down, if not blocks altogether, the resettlement in United States of refugees from Syria and Iraq. Breaking with their president, dozens of Democrats joined all the Republicans present to pass a bill which requires the directors of the FBI and national intelligence personally to approve the acceptance into the United States of each refugee.

  • IranIranian global cyber espionage campaign exposed

    Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. on Monday published a 38-page report identifying specific details and broad analysis on cyber-espionage activity conducted by the group “Rocket Kitten,” with possible ties to Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. The new report also reveals details of the group’s global operations and insight into more than 1,600 of their targets.

  • SpooksU.K. substantially to increase the number of U.K. spies

    George Osborne, the chancellor of the exchequer, said the government spending review, due out on 25 November, will substantially increase the number of intelligence officers in the three U.K. intelligence agencies who are responsible for investigating, analyzing, and helping thwart terrorist plots. The chancellor said: “The changing nature of war, espionage and terrorism meant government itself had to change in its response.”

  • CybersecurityRussia-based hackers tried to break into Hillary Clinton's private server

    Russian hackers, on five separate occasions, tried to break into Hillary Clinton’s server. The malicious e-mails, disguised as New York City parking tickets, were contained in the latest batch of records released by the State Department. There is no indication that these attempts were successful or that the suspicious zip files were opened by Clinton, but her personal e-mail address was a tightly-held secret and the hacking attempts raise the question of whether she was specifically targeted.