• How governments and companies can prevent the next insider attack

    Insider threats could take many forms, such as the next Edward Snowden, who leaked hundreds of thousands of secret documents to the press, or the next Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood mass killer. Indeed, in today’s high-tech and hyperconnected world, threats from insiders go far beyond leakers and lone-wolf shooters. A single insider might be able to help adversaries steal nuclear material that terrorists could use to make a crude nuclear bomb, install malware that could compromise millions of accounts or sabotage a toxic chemical facility to cause thousands of deaths. How can we better protect against the enemy within, no matter what it is that needs to be protected? In our high-tech society, the insider threat is ever-present. High-security organizations, governments and companies alike need to take action to counter the organizational and cognitive biases that often blind us to the insider danger – or future blunders will condemn us to more disasters.

  • Russia, Trump and the 2016 election: What’s the best way for Congress to investigate?

    Exactly how will the U.S. conduct a fair and accurate investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and links with President Donald Trump’s campaign? U.S. congressional leaders are discussing options. At a time when Congress is sharply polarized along partisan lines, congressional investigations tend to become microcosms of that polarization. This is all the more true when an investigation involves an issue about which the president is vulnerable to political embarrassment or attack. If the intelligence committee proves unable to conduct a thorough and bipartisan investigation of Russian meddling and Trump’s campaign, pressure will build on America’s leaders to establish a more independent probe. Hanging in the balance could be whether the United States can forge consensus about what happened and how to prevent it from happening again.

  • U.S. intelligence: a “truth-devoted” culture

    Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, now a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, was director of intelligence and counterintelligence at the U.S. Department of Energy and was a decorated CIA intelligence officer. He discusses the nature of intelligence work, the belief structure that drives those who do it, the probe of Russian interference in the election, and the friction between the Trump administration and the intelligence agencies.

  • Michael Flynn's top aide fired from NSC after security clearance is denied

    A top aide to Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, was on Friday fired from his position as senior director for Africa at the National Security Council (NSC) after the CIA rejected his application for a high-level security clearance. Flynn himself is in hot water for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about discussions he — Flynn — had with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak on 29 December, in which he told the Russian ambassador not to worry about the sanctions the Obama administration had imposed on Russia that same day for its cyber-meddling in the presidential election, because Trump, after being sworn in, would lift these sanctions – as well as the sanctions imposed on Russia for annexing Crimea and invading Ukraine.

  • NSA, worried about Trump's Russia ties, “withheld information” from briefings: Former analyst

    The New York Observer, a publication owned until recently by Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, has reported that leaders of the U.S. intelligence community are withholding the most sensitive intelligence from the White House. A former NSA analyst and counterintelligence officer told the Observer that some of the U.S. intelligence agencies have begun withholding intelligence information from the Oval Office as a result of worries that the Russia “has ears inside” the White House situation room.

  • The problem with U.S. secrets

    Secrets are often harmless, but they can prompt major problems when they happen at the highest levels of government. So what are the consequences when a U.S. president is dangerously preoccupied with secrecy? One expert says that question is particularly relevant with a new administration taking charge. She said that every other administration withheld some crucial information, whether about Woodrow Wilson’s stroke, Richard Nixon’s burglaries, or Bill Clinton’s affairs. “Secrecy turns out to be the president’s greatest power,” she said. “And if not controlled, it’s also the greatest threat to democracy.”

  • How computer hacking is becoming Russia’s weapon of choice

    The Russian government has long been known to source its technology, world-class hacking talent, and even some intelligence information from local cybercrime rings. What’s more, this criminal fraternity probably receives state immunity for cybercrimes committed outside Russia in return for offering services to the Russian state. Russia’s clear long-term strategy is to use the internet to further its aims in information warfare. It has proved that this form of warfare is more potent than kinetic warfare and that it can reap the benefits quickly and without fear of a coordinated response from the United States or NATO. Its use of criminal cyber rings ensures that it benefits from no (provable) direct links to the Russian government. A further downside is that China, North Korea, and Iran seem to be copying this model and have already been active in attacks against other nation states. The internet has changed mass communication in countless positive ways. But it is becoming an increasingly dangerous tool for subversive activity. A re-think and a re-boot are looking increasingly necessary.

  • Trump loosens sanctions on Russian intelligence agency which helped his 2016 campaign

    The Trump administration has loosened sanctions imposed by Barack Obama on Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), one of the two Russian government intelligence agencies which actively interfered in the U.S. 2016 presidential campaign in order to help Trump win. The loosening of the sanctions would make it easier for American companies to do business with the FSB, which is the successor of the KGB.

  • Hunting hackers: An ethical hacker explains how to track down the bad guys

    When a cyberattack occurs, ethical hackers are called in to be digital detectives. In a certain sense, they are like regular police detectives on TV. They have to search computer systems to find ways an intruder might have come in – a digital door or window left unlocked, perhaps. They look for evidence an attacker left of entry, like an electronic footprint in the dirt. And they try to determine what might have been copied or taken. But how do people track down hackers, figuring out what they have done and who they are? What’s involved, and who does this sort of work? The answer is that ethical hackers like me dig deep into digital systems, examining files logging users’ activity and deconstructing malicious software. We often team up with intelligence, legal and business experts, who bring outside expertise to add context for what we can find in the electronic record. But when the attack is more advanced, coordinated across multiple media platforms and leveraging skillful social engineering over years, it’s likely a government-sponsored effort, making arrests unlikely. That’s what happened when Russia hacked the U.S. presidential election. Diplomatic sanctions are an option. But pointing fingers between world superpowers is always a dangerous game.

  • Whether or not Trump claims are true, Russia is still using sex for spying

    Plenty of observers have justifiably questioned the accuracy of the story about the dossier the Russian intelligence services are supposed to be holding, a dossier allegedly containing compromising personal and business information about Donald Trump. The story’s claims are, after all, both remarkably lurid and conveniently topical, and it is notably light on specific sources. Whatever the truth regarding allegations against Trump, sexual entrapment was, and is, a tool frequently used by the Soviet intelligence services and their modern-day Russian descendants. The claims in the dossier are lurid and unproven, but they draw on very real precedents.

  • Russia waging disinformation war against Sweden: Report

    Researchers from the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Sweden’s leading foreign policy institute, have written that Russia has been using fake news, false documents, and disinformation as part of a coordinated campaign to influence public opinion and decision-making in Sweden. The Russian meddling in Swedish politics, and the methods used by Russian intelligence agencies to influence the tone of Swedish public discourse and direction of Swedish public policies, are similar to the methods and goals of the Putin government in interfering in the U.S. 2016 presidential election in support of Donald Trump.

  • U.S. imposes sanctions on Russia for interfering in 2016 U.S. election

    The United States on Thursday has unveiled a series of retaliatory measures against Russia for its interference in the U.S. 2016 presidential campaign. The goal of the Russian hacking campaign was to help Donald Trump win the election and, more generally, compromise and corrupt the American political process. The retaliatory measures include the expulsion of thirty-five Russian diplomats and the closure of two Russian compounds based the United States. In a statement, President Barack Obama said Americans should “be alarmed by Russia’s actions” and pledged further action.

  • Declassify information related to Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election: Lawmakers

    Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) led seven members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday in asking President Barack Obama to declassify information relating to the Russian government and the U.S. election. Russian government hackers – employed by two Russian government agencies — conducted a hacking and disinformation campaign in the run up to the election, aiming to undermine Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump, but no evidence has emerged to suggest that the Russian government hackers interfered with the voting process itself.

  • Russian gov. hackers may disrupt Germany’s 2017 elections: Germany’s intel chief

    The Russian government’s broad hacking campaign to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid and help Donald Trump become the U.S. next president may well be the template Russia is following in the run-up to next year’s German general election. Russia has actively – both overtly and covertly — supported right-wing, ethno-nationalist, populist, and proto-Fascist parties like Front National in France, Golden Dawn in Greece, Ataka in Bulgaria, and Jobbik in Hungary. These parties share not only anti-immigrant policies – but they are also fiercely anti-EU and want to distance their countries from NATO. One of the major themes in the public rallies – and political platform – of the German far-right, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant Pegida movement is that the influence of President Vladimir Putin’s Russia in Germany would be a welcome alternative to the imperial designs of the United States and Brussels.

  • Germany worries about Russian cyberattacks influencing German election

    Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Russia could launch a cyberattack campaign in an effort to influence Germany’s general elections next year. “We are already, even now, having to deal with information out of Russia or with Internet attacks that are of Russian origin or with news which sows false information,” the German chancellor said. Hans-George Maassen, the director of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, issued a formal warning earlier this year, saying that that the German government, business, educational facilities, and critical infrastructure were under “permanent threat” from Russian cyberattacks.