• The “European Approach” to fighting disinformation: Lessons for the United States

    The European Commission published a communication on 26 April to the European Council and Parliament outlining the “European Approach” to combatting disinformation. The report provides an important opportunity for reflection across the transatlantic space, as the United States seeks to inoculate its democracy from ongoing hostile foreign interference activities. Takeaways from the “European Approach” to fighting disinformation can help U.S. policymakers develop more targeted policy measures, and identify potential shortcomings in the U.S. response.

  • Enemies of the state: Russia tracked Russian émigrés in the U.S.

    Last month the United States expelled 60 Russian diplomats in solidarity with the United Kingdom,. after Russian intelligence operatives poisoned former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England in March. Among those expelled were intelligence operatives who were tracking Russian defectors and their families in the United States, probably setting the stage for killing some of them as “enemies of the state.”

  • European Commission to call out Russia for “information warfare”

    The European Commission is set to single out Russia directly for what it calls Moscow’s “information warfare” as part of EU efforts to fight back against online disinformation campaigns considered a threat to European security. The draft of a communique seen by RFE/RL states that “mass online disinformation campaigns are being widely used by a range of domestic and foreign actors to sow distrust and create societal tensions, with serious potential consequences for our security.”

  • Federal IT, communications technology supply chain vulnerable to Chinese sabotage, espionage

    A new report examines vulnerabilities in the U.S. government information and communications technology (ICT) supply chains posed by China. The report issues a warning about the extent to which China has penetrated the technology supply chain, and calls on the U.S. government and industry to develop a comprehensive strategy for securing their technology and products from foreign sabotage and espionage.

  • Deterring foreign interference in U.S. elections

    A new study analyzes five million political ads on hot-button issues which ran on Facebook in the run-up to the 2016 election. Voters in swing states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were disproportionately targeted with ads featuring divisive issues like guns, immigration, and race relations. The divisive ads were purchased by 228 groups – 121 of these groups had no publicly trackable information.

  • Ten legislative proposals to defend America against foreign influence operations

    More than a year after Russia’s broad hacking and disinformation campaign of interference in the 2016 presidential election, and with midterm elections looming on the horizon, Congress and the Trump administration have not taken any clear action to increase U.S. defenses against the foreign interference threat. There are important steps we can, and must, take to defend our institutions against adversaries who seek to undermine them. Many of Russia’s tactics have exploited vulnerabilities in our societies and technologies, and loopholes in our laws. Some of the steps necessary to defend ourselves will involve long-term work, others will require clear action by the Executive Branch to ensure Americans are united against the threat we face, and steps to both deter and raise the costs on such actions.

  • Tracking illicit Russian financial flows

    Trillions of dollars in capital flows into the United States annually, and trillions of dollars in payments are cleared through New York daily. No one knows exactly whom the funds belong to, where they are held, or how they are deployed. No one knows because the U.S. government does not track the money — but it could if it wanted to. What is known is that Russia, other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, and China are the primary drivers of non-transparent capital flows worldwide.

  • New strategies for countering Russian social media influence in Eastern Europe

    Russia is waging a social media campaign in the Baltics, Ukraine, and nearby states to sow dissent against neighboring governments, as well as NATO and the European Union. “Nowhere is this threat more tangible than in Ukraine, which has been an active propaganda battleground since the 2014 Ukrainian revolution,” said the lead author of a new RAND report. “Other countries in the region look at Russia’s actions and annexation of Crimea and recognize the need to pay careful attention to Russia’s propaganda campaign.”

  • It’s not just Facebook: Countering Russia’s social media offensive

    Russian influence operations exploit the vulnerabilities of social media platforms to disseminate false narratives and amplify divisive content in order to undermine democracies, divide societies, and weaken Western alliances. In conducting these operations, the Kremlin employs a variety of tools across the social media space, including fake accounts/personas, political advertisements, bot networks, and traditional propaganda outlets. Additionally, Russian influence operations utilize a range of social media platforms, each with a different role, to distract public discussion, foment social unrest, and muddle the truth.

  • Algorithm identifies fake users on many social networks

    Researchers have developed a new generic method to detect fake accounts on most types of social networks, including Facebook and Twitter. The new method is based on the assumption that fake accounts tend to establish improbable links to other users in the networks.

  • Russian investigative reporter dies after fall from window; editor rejects suicide

    Russian investigative journalist Maksim Borodin has died of injuries sustained on 12 April when he fell from the window of his fifth-floor apartment. Borodin regularly wrote on crime and corruption, and recently wrote extensively about the deaths in February of Russian mercenaries fighting in Syria.

  • Broad action required to combat disinformation on social media: Experts

    The business model of American social media allows foreign adversaries to exploit our open society by spreading disinformation and amplifying disagreements, turning citizens against one another, speakers said at a Princeton University forum. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency, said that taken as a whole, the cyberattacks during the 2016 presidential election have a lot in common with 9/11 — an attack from an unexpected direction, exploiting a previously unknown weakness. The nation rallied in response to the 2001 attacks in large part because President George W. Bush set the tone, he said. “We gotta go extraordinary,” Hayden said about the cyberattacks. “We as a nation don’t go extraordinary unless the president says ‘do it’,” and so far, that hasn’t happened, Hayden said.

  • Russia tested using door handles to deliver nerve agent before its agents attacked Skripal

    The U.K. on Friday released previously classified intelligence that show that Russia had tested whether door handles could be used to deliver nerve agents and had targeted the email accounts of Sergei and Yulia Skripal since at least 2013. The information about the door handle and email was made in a letter from Sir Mark Sedwill, the U.K.’s national security adviser, to NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg. It is highly unusual for the U.K. to make such intelligence public, but the U.K. government appears to have concluded that such a move was necessary to counter the effective lies-and-disinformation campaign Russia has been conducting in an effort to deny its operatives has poisoned Skripel and his daughter.

  • Fake news and subversion: Waging war without firing a single shot

    Propaganda by way of “fake news” is one way a nation can wage war without firing a single shot. Another is through tactics of subversion and coercion, in which a country intentionally keeps neighboring countries weak in order to advance its own foreign policy interests. “Think of this as a replacement for direct force and warfare of another kind. Countries can advance their own interests without using direct force or taking over territory,” says a researcher.

  • Ruble falls further, Russian officials seek to calm nerves

    The Russian ruble is falling for a second straight day following the imposition of new U.S. sanctions, while the Central Bank chief and other officials are seeking to calm investors in the wake of a big sell-off in shares of Russian companies a day earlier.