• Why the Jeffrey Epstein Saga Was the Russian Government-Funded Media’s Top Story of 2019

    In a year featuring a presidential impeachment, Brexit, mass protests in Hong Kong, and widespread geopolitical turmoil, few topics dominated the Russian government-funded media landscape quite like the arrest and subsequent suicide of billionaire financier and serial sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Given the lack of any notable connection between Epstein and Russian interests, the focus on Epstein highlights the Kremlin’s clear prioritization of content meant to paint a negative image of the West rather than a positive image of Russia.

  • New AI-Based Tool Flags Fake News for Media Fact-Checkers

    A new artificial intelligence (AI) tool could help social media networks and news organizations weed out false stories. The tool uses deep-learning AI algorithms to determine if claims made in posts or stories are supported by other posts and stories on the same subject.

  • Facebook Takes a Step Forward on Deepfakes—and Stumbles

    The good news is that Facebook is finally taking action against deepfakes. The bad news is that the platform’s new policy does not go far enough. On 7 January Facebook announced a new policy banning deepfakes from its platform. Yet, instead of cheers, the company faced widespread dismay—even anger. What went wrong?

  • The Risks Posed by Deepfakes

    This use of a deepfake video is becoming more prevalent. While pornography currently accounts for the vast majority of deepfake videos, the technique can also be used to defraud, to defame, to spread fake news or to steal someone’s identity.

  • Artificial Intelligence: China “Uses Taiwan for Target Practice” as It Perfects Cyber-Warfare Techniques

    China has already deployed its expertise in artificial intelligence to make China into a surveillance state, power its economy, and develop its military. Phil Sherwell writes that now Taiwan’s cybersecurity chiefs have identified signs that Beijing is using AI to interfere in an overseas election for the first time. It is “a laboratory for China for adaptation and improvement on political warfare instruments which can then be unleashed against other targeted democratic societies,” Michael Cole, editor of the Taiwan Sentinel, said

  • Review: Oscar Jonsson’s The Russian Understanding of War: Blurring the Lines between War and Peace

    A new book analyzes the evolution of Russian military thought and how Russia’s current thinking about war is reflected in recent crises. Simon Cocking writes that while other books describe current Russian practice, Oscar Jonsson provides the long view to show how Russian military strategic thinking has developed from the Bolshevik Revolution to the present – especially, how Russian elites see information warfare and political subversion as the most important ways to conduct contemporary war.

  • Enhanced Deepfakes Capabilities for Less-Skilled Threat Actors Mean More Misinformation

    The ability to create manipulated content is not new. But what has changed with the advances in artificial intelligence is you can now build a very convincing deepfake without being an expert in technology. This “democratization” of deepfakes will increase the quantity of misinformation and disinformation aiming to weaken and undermine evidence-based discourse.

  • Cyberattacks and Electronic Voting Errors Threaten 2020 Outcome, Experts Warn

    Potential electronic voting equipment failures and cyberattacks from Russia and other countries pose persistent threats to the 2020 elections, election security analysts and key Democrats warn.

  • 4. Chinese Firms Secretly Own Leading VPNs

    China’s efforts to implement its persistent surveillance approach outside its borders go beyond helping Huawei to make the company’s 5G technology more competitive, and thus more appealing, to Western and non-Western countries. A recent study found that almost a third (30 percent) of the world’s top virtual private network (VPN) providers are secretly owned by six Chinese companies.

  • 7. Putin’s Russia Punching above Its Weight

    In 2014, President Barack Obama said that Russia was a “regional power” capable only of threatening its neighbors “not out of strength but out of weakness.” Yet Russia, with an economy smaller that the economy of Italy, has been able to play a role on the international stage – and in the politics of the United States and more than twenty other countries — out of proportion to its economy and other important metrics.

  • 8. Russia’s Modern-Day SMERSH

    SMERSH, the counterintelligence unit created by Joseph Stalin in 1943 to conduct sabotage and assassinations behind German lines, was disbanded in 1946, with its operatives and missions moved to the NKVD (later, the KGB). It was revived in three James Bond books as 007’s main nemesis. It now appears that SMERSH, or an organization with similar missions and methods, has been reconstituted within the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence organization. Its name is Unit 29155, and its mission is to conduct assassinations and sabotage in Western European countries.

  • How a Poisoning in Bulgaria Exposed Russian Assassins in Europe

    Western security and intelligence officials say the attempted 2015 poisonings in Sofia of a Bulgarian arms dealer was a critical clue that helped expose a campaign by the Kremlin and its sprawling web of intelligence operatives to eliminate Russia’s enemies abroad and destabilize the West.

  • The Chinese Threat to U.S. Research Institutions Is Real

    The Chinese government is pursuing a comprehensive, well-organized, and well-funded strategy to exploit the open and collaborative research environment in the United States to advance their economic and military expansion at our expense. Josh Rogin writes that for too long, U.S. research institutions have been asleep to Beijing’s efforts.

  • State Officials Are Unhappy with Rollout of Election Security Framework

    The federal government has developed a new threat-notification framework, which is meant to give U.S. officials a consistent process for alerting state personnel, the private sector, Congress, and the public of foreign attempts to interfere in U.S. politics through influence operations or cyberactivity. Sean Lyngaas writes that “State officials were only given a generic, one-page summary of the document, which is still restricted to the federal government” and quotes the secretary of state of West Virginia, who said that the document “was “either done without [states’] input or our input was ignored.”

  • Cambridge Five Spies Burgess and Maclean Lauded by Russia as Heroes of Anti-Fascism

    The Russian intelligence community on Friday honored two of the notorious Cambridge Five spy ring, whose members spied for the Soviet Union from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. The Cambridge Five also included Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt, and John Cairncross. The five were attracted by communism, and the Soviet Union, as young Cambridge University students in the early 1930s, after coming to believe that British – and, more generally, Western — passivity in the face of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler was aiding in the growth and spread of fascism. Maclean and Burgess defected to the Soviet Union in 1951, and for three years lived in the town of Samara on the Volga. On Friday, a plaque bearing the two Britons’ names was unveiled on the wall of the apartment where the two lived until returning to Moscow in 1955.