• How to fight information manipulations: 50 recommendations

    French government think tanks have issued 50 recommendations to combat “information manipulations.” The recommendations are part of an exhaustive new study published by the Center for Analysis, Planning and Strategy (CAPS) — attached to the ministry of foreign affairs — and the Institute for Strategic Research of the Military School (IRSEM) — attached to the ministry of the armed forces. It warns that information manipulation, defined as “the intentional and massive distribution of false or biased news for hostile political purposes,” aims to “undermine the foundations of our democracy” and thereby constitute a threat to national security.

     

  • Name your poison: Exotic toxins fell Kremlin foes

    The suspected poisoning of anti-Kremlin activist Pyotr Verzilov in Moscow — just a few months after nerve-agent poisonings in Britain that led to one death and left three others severely ill — conjures up memories of other Kremlin foes who have fallen victim to toxic attacks in the Vladimir Putin era and previously.

  • More evidence dossier did not start Russia investigation

    ABC News’ latest reporting corroborates the now well-known fact: The Christopher Steele’s dossier was not the impetus for the FBI’s Russia investigation.

  • Broadcasting the reactionary right on YouTube

    A new report presents data from approximately 65 political influencers across 81 channels to identify the “Alternative Influence Network (AIN)”; an alternative media system that adopts the techniques of brand influencers to build audiences and “sell” them political ideology.

  • Swiss confirm Russians tried to hack lab analyzing Skripal samples

    The Swiss government has confirmed reports that Dutch authorities had arrested and expelled two suspected Russian spies earlier this year after the two allegedly tried to hack a Swiss laboratory that conducts chemical weapons tests. The alleged target was the Spiez Laboratory, which analyzed samples from the March poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England.

  • Berlin hospital says “highly plausible” Russian activist was poisoned

    German doctors treating Pyotr Verzilov have said that the anti-Kremlin activist was probably poisoned, and a Moscow newspaper reports a possible connection with the killing of three Russian journalists in the Central African Republic (C.A.R.) in July. The developments on September 18 deepened the mystery surrounding the sudden illness of Verzilov, a member of the punk protest band Pussy Riot and the dissident art troupe Voina who was flown to Berlin for treatment three days earlier.

  • Securing Americans’ votes

    To protect the integrity and security of U.S. elections, all local, state, and federal elections should be conducted using human-readable paper ballots by the 2020 presidential election, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences. In addition, every effort should be made to use paper ballots in the 2018 federal election. Ballots that have been marked by voters should not be returned over the Internet or any network connected to it, because no current technology can guarantee their secrecy, security, and verifiability, the report says.

  • U.K. charges Russians in novichok case, May says “not a rogue operation”

    British prosecutors have announced charges against two Russian men they believe poisoned former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a deadly nerve agent, and Prime Minister Theresa May says the government has concluded the suspects were officers of Russia’s military intelligence agency.

  • Twitter, Facebook face senators again

    The Senate Intelligence Committee is set to hear from two top social media executives today (Wednesday) on what they have been doing to combat the spread of propaganda and disinformation online and how they are prepared to help secure the integrity of upcoming elections. The committee will hear from Twitter Co-Founder and CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg – but one chair, reserved for Google cofounder Larry Page, may remain empty. The committee extended the invitation to Google CEO Sundar Pichai as well as Larry Page, who is CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, but the company wanted to send senior vice president Kent Walker instead. The committee made it clear it is not interested in hearing from Walker.

  • The FBI launches a Combating Foreign Influence webpage

    The FBI on Thursday has launched a webpage dedicated to combating foreign influence. The webpage aims to educate the public about the threats faced from disinformation campaigns, cyberattacks, and the overall impact of foreign influence on society. The FBI is the lead federal agency responsible for investigating foreign influence operations.

  • Russia is co-opting angry young men

    It seems almost too strange to be true: fight clubs, neo-Nazi soccer hooligans, motorcycle gangs, and other violent fringe elements are serving as conduits for the Kremlin’s influence operations in Western countries. “It sounds more like an episode of The Americans with a dash of Mad Max and Fight Club mixed in,” Michael Carpenter writes, “[y]et this is exactly what is happening across Europe and North America as Russia’s intelligence services co-opt fringe radicals and angry young men to try to undermine Western democracies from within. And not just in the virtual world, but in real life.”

  • Less information leaves U.S. vulnerable as midterms approach

    In May 2018, explaining why the intelligence community objected to revealing the name of an FBI informant who talked with several Trump campaign officials in order to explore the extent of their ties with Russian intelligence operatives, FBI director Christopher Wray said: “The day that we can’t protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe.” High-level U.S. officials say that the United States knows less in 2018 than it did in 2016 about Russia’s planned and executed attacks on U.S. democracy and infrastructure – and one reason is that Russian informants have gone silent. Current and former officials said the expulsion of American intelligence officers from Moscow has hurt collection efforts — but they also raised the possibility that the outing of an FBI informant under scrutiny by the House intelligence committee — an examination encouraged by President Trump — has had a chilling effect on intelligence collection.

  • Fund meant to protect elections may be too little, too late

    The Election Assistance Commission, the government agency charged with distributing federal funds to support elections, released a report Tuesday detailing how each state plans to spend a total of $380 million in grants allocated to improve and secure their election systems. But even as intelligence officials warn of foreign interference in the midterm election, much of the money is not expected to be spent before Election Day. The EAC expects states to spend their allotted money within two to three years and gives them until 2023 to finish spending it.

  • How the U.S. has failed to protect the 2018 election--and four ways to protect 2020

    If the weak response of the Obama White House indicated to America’s adversaries that the U.S. government would not respond forcefully, then the subsequent actions of House Republicans and President Trump have signaled that our adversaries can expect powerful elected officials to help a hostile foreign power cover up attacks against their domestic opposition. The bizarre behavior of the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Devin Nunes, has destroyed that body’s ability to come to any credible consensus, and the relative comity of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has not yet produced the detailed analysis and recommendations our country needs. Republican efforts to downplay Russia’s role constitute a dangerous gamble: It is highly unlikely that future election meddling will continue to have such an unbalanced and positive impact for the GOP.

  • Russian investments in the United States: Hardening the target

    The United States is the single largest recipient of foreign investment worldwide. This openness reflects the country’s innovative industries, deep capital markets, and ease of doing business – and it also contributes to making them possible. At the same time, a hands-off reporting regime makes it difficult for law enforcement and other government agencies to determine whose money is behind investment flows or where they should focus their investigative resources. While most foreign investment is benign, the current framework presents inviting loopholes through which adversaries can gain non-transparent access to U.S. businesses, technology, and data.