Espionage | Homeland Security Newswire

  • Nerve agent was placed in former spy’s BMW ventilation system: U.S. intel

    The former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, may have been exposed to a deadly nerve agent through his car’s ventilation system, ABC News reports. The two remain in critical condition in hospital after being exposed to the nerve agent novichok in Salisbury, in the U.K., two weeks ago. ABC News reported that intelligence officials had said the “dusty” substance used was likely placed in the ventilation system of the BMW Skripal was driving.

  • Lawmakers question lack of effort by State, Defense in countering Russian disinformation

    A bipartisan group of six members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee have urged the State Department and the Department of Defense to explain why tens of millions in federal funds designated to counter disinformation and propaganda from foreign governments like Russia have not been spent. The Senators’ letter comes in response to a report that the State Department has not spent any of the $120 million Congress allocated to the Department to combat foreign meddling in U.S. elections.

  • Russia planted sabotage-enabling malware in U.S. energy grid, other critical infrastructure

    Russia has not only attacked the infrastructure of American democracy: The U.S. government now says that Russia has engaged in a pervasive, wide-ranging cyber-assault on U.S. energy grid and other key components of the U.S. critical infrastructure. These sustained attacks on U.S. critical infrastructure – along with the Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Russian-launched NoPetya malware — were the reasons the administration on Thursday imposed a new round of sanctions on Russia.

  • U.K.'s Johnson says Putin probably behind ex-spy attack; Kremlin lashes out

    British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said it is “overwhelmingly likely” that Russian President Vladimir Putin made the decision to use a highly toxic chemical against a former double agent in England. “We have nothing against the Russians themselves. There is to be no Russophobia as a result of what is happening,” Johnson said on 16 March6, nearly two weeks after former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were exposed to what British authorities say was a potent nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union. “Our quarrel is with Putin’s Kremlin, and with his decision — and we think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision — to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the U.K., on the streets of Europe for the first time since the Second World War,” Johnson said.

  • New U.S. sanctions on Russia for election interference, infrastructure cyberattacks, NoPetya

    The U.S. Treasury has issued its strongest sanctions yet against Russia in response to what it called “ongoing nefarious attacks.” The move targets five entities and nineteen individuals. Among the institutions targeted in the new sanctions for election meddling were Russia’s top intelligence services, Federal Security Service (FSB) and Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), the two organizations whose hackers, disinformation specialists, and outside contractors such as the Internet Research Agency (IRA) troll farm were behind — and are still engaged in — a broad and sustained campaign to undermine U.S. democracy.

  • Skripal case: Johnson says U.K. may target “corrupt” Putin allies

    British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said that the country’s law enforcement agencies were investigating rich Russian individuals with assets in Britain, and suggested that those who owe their wealth to their ties with President Vladimir Putin could be brought to justice. Allies have expressed support for Britain’s assessment that Russia was behind the attack, with French President Emmanuel Macron saying that he would announce unspecified “measures” in the coming days. And NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the “unacceptable” attack was part of “a reckless pattern of Russian behavior over many years.”

  • French expert says novichok toxin is “clearly a direct link to Russia”

    Novichok, the toxic nerve agent that British authorities believe was used in the near-fatal poisoning of former spy and retired Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, is a powerful substance that is exceedingly difficult to manufacture. This is why a growing number of chemical weapons experts say it is highly likely that only a government could have the technology and infrastructure to make it. And given that the Soviet Union, in the 1980s, was the only state known to have produced it, that has led many experts to conclude that Russian intelligence was behind Skripal’s poisoning.

  • Police investigating death of Russian businessman in London

    A lawyer says a Russian businessman who associated with a prominent critic of the Kremlin has died in London. Nikolai Glushkov, 68, was found dead at his home in southwest London. Glushkov was friends with Boris Berezovsky, a Russian oligarch who died at his home in Berkshire, England, in 2013. In 2011, Glushkov gave evidence at the court case brought by Berezovsky against Kremlin-friendly oligarch Roman Abramovich. Besides Berezovsky and Glushkov, two other prominent Russian exiles — Aleksandr Litvinenko and Aleksandr Perepilichny — died in Britain in recent years.

  • Deadly nerve agent novichok is a decades-old Cold War foe

    Novichok, the powerful nerve agent that British Prime Minister Theresa May says was used in the attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, means “newcomer” in Russian. But the military grade chemical is anything but. Developed in the former Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s, novichoks are a group of advanced nerve agents designed to circumvent chemical weapons treaties and penetrate protective gear used by NATO forces.

  • British PM says “highly likely” Russia was behind nerve-agent attack

    British Prime Minister Theresa May says evidence shows that it is “highly likely” that Russia is behind the nerve-agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in the city of Salisbury despite Kremlin denials that Moscow was involved in the incident. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said police were examining more than 200 pieces of evidence, had identified more than 240 witnesses, and were looking through security camera footage.

  • To stop fake news, internet platforms should choose quality over quantity: Study

    “Fake news” has made headlines and dominated social media chatter since the 2016 presidential election. It appears to be everywhere, and researchers are still determining the scale of the problem. A new study examines fake news and its prevalence and impact across Google, Facebook, and Twitter. The authors offer recommendations for stemming the flow and influence of fake news, and in particular call for more interdisciplinary research—including more collaboration between internet platforms and academia — “to reduce the spread of fake news and to address the underlying pathologies it has revealed.”

  • Putin: “Jews” with Russian citizenship may have meddled in U.S. election

    In a weekend interview on NBC News, President Vladimir Putin, in an effort to deflect attention from the role the Kremlin’s hackers and disinformation specialists played in meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, said that such meddling was probably the work of “Jews” or other minorities in the Russian Federation. American Jewish organizations criticized Putin for giving voice to conspiracy theories which were at the core of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic fabricated text, first published in Russia in 1903, purporting to describe a Jewish plan for global domination.

  • Almost no progress on securing U.S. voting machines in last two years

    By a number of key metrics, the United States has failed to make significant progress securing voting machines, despite increasing warnings about system vulnerabilities from election officials and national security experts. “The threats of both hacking and foreign interference are undeniable, yet we’re not doing all we can as a country to protect machines or ensure correct vote totals if a successful attack does occur,” says the author of a just-published study.

  • Study: On Twitter, false news travels faster than true stories

    A new study by three MIT scholars has found that false news spreads more rapidly on the social network Twitter than real news does — and by a substantial margin. “We found that falsehood diffuses significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth, in all categories of information, and in many cases by an order of magnitude,” says one researcher. “These findings shed new light on fundamental aspects of our online communication ecosystem,” says another researcher, adding that the researchers were “somewhere between surprised and stunned” at the different trajectories of true and false news on Twitter.

  • Large-scale scientific investigation required to combat fake news: Researcher

    The indictment of 13 Russians in the operation of a troll farm that spread false information related to the 2016 U.S. presidential election has renewed the spotlight on the power of fake news to influence public opinion. Researchers call for a coordinated investigation into the underlying social, psychological and technological forces behind fake news. This is necessary to counteract the phenomenon’s negative influence on society, the researchers say.