• 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

  • Weapons technology Russian-American admits to smuggling sensitive weapon tech to Russia

    Alexander Fishenko, 49, a Russian-American businessman, pleaded guilty yesterday (Wednesday) to charges of smuggling sensitive U.S. microelectronics to Russia. He was arrested in 2012 on allegations that he had shipped export-controlled electronics and computer chips which are used in radar and surveillance systems, missile guidance systems, and detonation triggers.

  • China syndromeState Department stays away from Chinese-owned Waldorf Astoria

    The U.S. State Department said American diplomats and State Department officials, for the first time in decades, would not be staying at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel during this year’s UN general assembly. Worldwide last year sold the high-end Midtown hotel for $1.95 billion to the Chinese group Anbang Insurance Group. The sales contract allowed for “a major renovation” by the Chinese, and American security experts had no doubt as to the purpose of these “renovations”: As is the practice in China, the Chinese owners, working on behalf of China’s intelligence services, were going to plant listening devices in every room and ball room, and wire every phone, Wi-Fi hot spot, and restaurant table in order to eavesdrop on hotel guests.

  • BusinessU.S. surveillance policies cost U.S. tech sector more than $35 billion in sales

    New report says the U.S. tech industry has under-performed as a result of concerns about the U.S. government’s electronic surveillance. The report estimates that the total economic impact on the U.S. tech sector of U.S. surveillance practices exceeds $35 billion annually. The report recommends policymakers level the playing field for the U.S. tech sector by implementing a series of reforms such as increasing the transparency of its surveillance practices, opposing government efforts to weaken encryption or introduce backdoors in software, and strengthening its mutual legal assistance treaties with other nations.

  • Quick Take // By Ben FrankelSnowden fallout: Revelations forced U.K. to pull out agents from “hostile countries”

    The British security services had to pull out agents from “hostile countries” as a result of information the Chinese and Russian intelligence services obtained when they gained access to the millions of top-secret NSA files Edward Snowed was carrying with him when he fled to Honk Kong and then to Russia. Snowden assured journalists who interviewed him that the Chinese and Russian intelligence services would not be able to access these files because he encrypted them with the highest encryption methods available. Security experts commented that he was either naïve or disingenuous – because he must have known, or should have known, that the cyber capabilities these two countries would make it relatively easy for them to crack the encrypted files he was carrying with him. We now know that these security experts were right.

  • Cyber espionageCyber espionage campaign, likely sponsored by China, targets Asian countries: FireEye

    FireEye has released a report which provides intelligence on the operations of APT 30, an advanced persistent threat (APT) group most likely sponsored by the Chinese government. APT 30 has been conducting cyber espionage since at least 2005, making it one of the longest operating APT groups that FireEye tracks. APT 30 targets governments, journalists, and commercial entities across South East Asia and India.

  • Cyber operationsThe CIA bolsters cyber operations

    The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is planning to join the growing list of U.S. intelligence and security agencies which have redefined their missions to include cyber operations — in the CIA’s case, cyber espionage. Current and former agency officials say the new effort will be part of the broad restructuring of an intelligence service long defined by its human spy work. The shift also reflects the increasing role cyber plays in intelligence gathering, with allies and adversaries relying on smartphones, social media, and other technologies to communicate.