• The Russian connectionRussia “weaponized information” to sow discord in West, destroy post-WWII international order: Theresa May

    U.K. prime minister Theresa May, in an extraordinary attack on Russia’s broad cyber-campaign against Western countries, has accused Russia of meddling in the elections of Western democracies and planting fake stories in other countries’ media in a sustained effort to “weaponize information” in order to sow discord and deepen internal conflicts Western democracies. May, speaking at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet on 13 November 2017, said that Russia’s goal was to destabilize, if not destroy, the post-Second World Order rules-based international order.

  • The Russian connectionRussia has been cyber-attacking “U.K. media, telecommunications, and energy sectors”: U.K. cybersecurity chief

    Ciaran Martin, CEO of the U.K. National Cyber Security Center (NCSC): “I can confirm that Russian interference, seen by the National Cyber Security Center, has included attacks on the U.K. media, telecommunications and energy sectors. That is clearly a cause for concern — Russia is seeking to undermine the international system.”

  • The Russian connection"Kompromat": Russian agents offered to send women to Trump's hotel room in 2013

    Keith Schiller, who had served for many years as Donald Trump’s personal body guard and who later became director of Oval Office relations – a post he left last month – told a congressional panel that when Trump was in Moscow to attend the Miss Universe Pageant, Russian operatives offered to send five attractive women to his hotel room to spend the night. Christopher Steele, a respected former MI6 agent in Russia who put together the memos which came to be known as the Steele Dossier, quoted Russian sources referring to secretly recorded tapes which captured Trump and some of the women engaged in unorthodox sexual activities. The U.S. intelligence community has confirmed most of the contents in the dossier, but the existence of the tapes is one of the few topics in the dossier which remains shrouded in mystery.

  • The Russian connectionExtremist content and Russian disinformation online: Working with tech to find solutions

    By Clint Watts

    “It’s been more than a year since my colleagues and I described in writing how the Russian disinformation system attacked our American democracy. We’ve all learned considerably more since then about the Kremlin’s campaigns, witnessed their move to France and Germany and now watch as the world worst regimes duplicate their methods. Yet our country remains stalled in observation, halted by deliberation and with each day more divided by manipulative forces coming from afar. The U.S. government, social media companies, and democracies around the world don’t have any more time to wait. In conclusion, civil wars don’t start with gunshots, they start with words. America’s war with itself has already begun. We all must act now on the social media battlefield to quell information rebellions that can quickly lead to violent confrontations and easily transform us into the Divided States of America.”

  • The Russian connectionRussia’s pro-Trump campaign began early, aiming to help him win GOP primaries: WSJ

    The U.S. intelligence community cited December 2015 as the earliest suspected time that Russian government social media account began their broad campaign in support of Donald Trump. A Wall Street Journal investigation reveals that the Kremlin’s campaign of support for Trump began six months earlier, in June 2015, days after he announced his candidacy. This earlier Russian disinformation campaign was aimed to help Trump defeat his Republican primary rivals. This early campaign, however, already engaged in dissemination of fake stories aiming to tarnish Hillary Clinton and undermine her campaign.

  • The Russian connectionDOJ considering charging Russian government officials in DNC, Podesta hacks

    The Department of Justice has identified six Russian government officials involved in hacking the DNC and using the information against candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. Prosecutors have enough evidence to bring charges against those individuals by next year. The information gathered by DOJ supports the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian government agencies to launch a coordinated effort to help Trump win the November election. DOJ has identified Russian hackers working for both military and intelligence agencies in Russia.

  • The Russian connectionRussia’s disinformation posts reached 126 million Americans: Facebook

    Disinformation specialists at the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Kremlin-affiliated Russian group, created 80,000 Facebook posts which were directly served to 29 million Americans. After the posts were liked, shared, and commented on, they traveled to the news feeds of approximately 126 million Americans at some point between January 2015 and August 2017. These numbers mean that Russian-produced disinformation and propaganda reached about 40 percent of the U.S. population. Facebook says that IRA’s 80,000 posts come on top the 3,000 political ads created by the IRA – and that these ads were seen by 11.4 million Americans. “Many of the ads and posts we’ve seen so far are deeply disturbing — seemingly intended to amplify societal divisions and pit groups of people against each other,” said Facebook’s General Counsel Colin Stretch. “They would be controversial even if they came from authentic accounts in the United States. But coming from foreign actors using fake accounts, they are simply unacceptable.”

  • The Russian connectionInsinuation and influence: How the Kremlin targets Americans online

    By Andrew Weisburd and Bret Schafer

    The objective of Kremlin influence operations, part of a larger set of tactics and strategies known as active measures, is to make the target population more amenable to Kremlin wants and desires. They achieve this either by gaining a sympathetic hearing of their views, or failing that, by keeping us busy fighting among ourselves. The Kremlin seeks both to sow discord and create chaos in Western societies and rally support for, or limit opposition to, its geopolitical agenda.

  • The Russian connectionThe active measures orchestra: An examination of Russian influence operations abroad

    By David Salvo and Andrew Andell

    Russia has embraced new technologies and forms of communication that have allowed it to take advantage of years of Western inattention to a growing problem. However, the tools Russia uses in its current influence operations are nothing new. Neither are its strategic objectives of subverting NATO and the EU and undermining Western governments and democratic institutions. While for many Americans Russia’s actions seem to have come out of nowhere, it is essential that we understand these actions occurred in the context of a wide and ongoing effort by the Kremlin.

  • The Russian connectionDOD to remove Kaspersky software from Pentagon systems

    The Department of Defense is reviewing its computer systems to make sure that software from under-suspicion Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky does not touch any military systems. In September DHS issued a directive to all civilian government agencies to remove Kaspersky software from their systems. The directive, which gave agencies three months to complete the removal, referred to deepening concerns in the U.S. intelligence community about the close relationship between Kaspersky and the Russian intelligence agencies.

  • The Russian connectionDOD to remove Kaspersky software from Pentagon systems

    The Department of Defense is reviewing its computer systems to make sure that software from under-suspicion Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky does not touch any military systems. In September DHS issued a directive to all civilian government agencies to remove Kaspersky software from their systems. The directive, which gave agencies three months to complete the removal, referred to deepening concerns in the U.S. intelligence community about the close relationship between Kaspersky and the Russian intelligence agencies.

  • Considered opinionFacebook’s evidence of Russian electoral meddling is only ‘the tip of the iceberg’

    By Alexis Madrigal

    “First of all, let’s step back and put the Russian involvement in 2016 in the overall context,” says Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. “It was approved at the highest level. It was coordinated in ways that were unprecedented. It included the things that have been much reported on, like hacking into both political parties and releasing information harmful to one candidate, Clinton, and helpful to Trump.” Warner adds: “I think our government and the platform companies were more than a little bit caught off guard. I don’t think anyone had seen anything of this scale before.”

  • Considered opinionJeff Sessions just confessed his negligence on Russia

    By Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes

    The headlines from Attorney General Jeff Session’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday focused on his refusal to answer questions about his conversations with President Donald Trump and his declaration that he had not yet been interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller. Lost in the back-and-forth, however, was a truly damning moment about Sessions’s tenure at the Justice Department thus far. The attorney general of the United States, though acknowledging and expressing confidence in the intelligence community’s assessment of foreign interference in the 2016 election and admitting that the government is not doing enough to guard against such activity in the future, could not identify a single step his department is taking or should take in that direction. This was a frank display of ignorant complacency in the face of a clear and demonstrated threat.

  • The Russian connectionWhy are Russian media outlets hyping the Mueller investigation?

    By Cynthia Hooper

    Four major Russia investigations are underway in Washington, along with at least six related federal inquiries. Russia’s most popular media outlets compare the investigations to those of the McCarthy era, calling them “witch hunts” focused on a “phantom menace.” Amid all the emphasis of “Russophobia run wild,” however, Russian media coverage seems to have become more positive in regard to one issue: The Justice Department’s investigation led by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. While state-sponsored outlets continue to deny any possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, they’ve begun to applaud Mueller’s efforts to look into the past business deals of the U.S. president and his team. In affirming the U.S. investigation into Trump’s business practices, Kremlin strategists can co-opt the charges of Putin’s critics and direct them at Trump. They can argue that the U.S. is neither more virtuous than Russia nor more efficacious. And they can do so without having to acknowledge that a Mueller-style investigation into top-level government malfeasance would never be allowed in their own country today.

  • The Russian connectionRussia used Pokemon Go "to sow division” in run-up to 2016 presidential election

    CNN broke the news yesterday that Russian government hackers did not only use Facebook, Twitter, and Google platforms for a broad, systematic, and sophisticated disinformation campaign in the run-up to the 2016 election – they also used the popular video game Pokemon Go. The game was used to promote a Black Lives Matter-like message about police brutality, aiming to discourage African American voters from going to the polls, while creating a White backlash against those criticizing the police.