Espionage | Homeland Security Newswire

  • Britain deploys specialist troops in city where ex-Russian spy collapsed

    Britain has deployed specialist troops to remove potentially contaminated objects from the site where former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious after a suspected nerve-agent attack. Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, have been in hospital since they were found on a bench outside a shopping center in the southern English city of Salisbury on 4 March.

  • Lawmakers seek answers from election equipment vendors on security of voting machines

    The U.S. intelligence community has confirmed that Russia interfered with the 2016 elections; Russian actors attempted to hack a U.S. voting software company and at least twenty-one states’ election systems. Recent reports indicate that U.S.-based firms operating on U.S. government platforms gave Russian authorities access to their source code. Lawmakers are inquiring about the security of the voting machines of the major American vendors, and whether these vendors have been asked to share the source code or other sensitive or proprietary details associated with their voting machines with Russian entities.

  • Russians are hacking our public-commenting system, too

    Russia has found yet another way surreptitiously to influence U.S. public policy: Stealing the identities of real Americans and then using these identities to file fake comments during the comment submission period preceding the formulation of public policies. For example, in the course of its deliberations on the future of Internet openness, the FCC logged about half a million comments sent from Russian email addresses – but, even more unnerving, it received nearly eight million comments from email domains associated with FakeMailGenerator.com with almost identical wording. Researchers, journalists, and public servants have found a wide range of fake comments and stolen identities in the public proceedings of the Labor Department, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and Securities and Exchange Commission.

  • Goodbye James Bond, hello big data

    Just as the technological revolution has transformed how people live and do business, it has upended the often hidebound field of intelligence gathering. Where once the focus might have been on the savvy agent clandestinely dashing around the world, like James Bond, now it’s on something far less sexy but no less vital: big data. “That [Bond] model, if it was ever true, is completely over,” said Sir John Sawers, chief of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), known to fans of spy novels as MI6, from 2009 to 2014. “Now, the most important person in any intelligence service is the data analyst, because it’s the data analyst who will tell you where the threats are coming from and where the opportunities are emerging that you as an intelligence agency can exploit.”

  • Critically ill woman is daughter of ex-Russian spy, BBC reports

    Sergei Skripal, 66, a former colonel in Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency, was convicted of passing state secrets to Britain in 2006, but was released from prison and — sent to the West — in a spy swap in 2010. He is in a critical condition in hospital after being found unconscious on a bench near a shopping center in Salisbury in southern England on 4 March. A woman found unconscious on a bench next to him has now been identified as his 33-year old daughter. The unexplained incident drew comparisons with the death of Aleksandr Litvinenko, a former Russian security agent who became a Putin critic, who fell ill and died in London in November 2006 after ingesting radioactive polonium-210. A high-level British investigative commission has established that two Russian GRU agents poisoned Litvinenko on orders from Vladimir Putin. Andrei Lugovoi, one of the two Russian killers, has been awarded a medal by Putin, and is now a leading member of United Russia, Putin’s political party, in the Russian parliament.

  • “We can't let Putin and his allies succeed”: Sen. Mark Warner

    In one of the more important speeches by a political leader in the last few years, Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia), the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, offered a sobering assessment of the challenge to U.S. interests and values posed by a resurgent Russia. “[W]hile our gaze shifted away from Russia, which we began to kind of write off and at a certain level dismiss as simply a regional power, Russia really never lost its focus on us,” Warner said. “Its geostrategic aim remains squarely targeted on the Western liberal order and, more specifically, on what its KGB-trained leadership views as the main enemy: The United States,” Warner said. “So Russia diligently honed and updated its toolkit for a different kind of Great Power rivalry. They couldn’t match us in the old Cold War paradigm, so Russia needed a strategy that would allow them to compete with us on a new, emerging battlefield,” Warner noted, adding that that the U.S. response is inadequate. “We need a president who will lead not just a whole-of-government effort, but in a sense a whole-of-society effort to try to take on these challenges. We need someone that will actually unify our nation against this growing asymmetric threat. We can’t let Putin and his allies succeed.”

  • Kremlin hackers infiltrated the most secure German government communication network

    The German government yesterday (Wednesday) confirmed that it had suffered a large cyberattack which infiltrated federal computer networks in search of sensitive information. Anonymous German law enforcement sources said that the Russia hacking group APT28, aka Fancy Bear, had placed malware in a government network and infiltrated both the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry. Fancy Bear, which is one of the hacking groups operated by the GRU (Russia’s military intelligence branch), conducted the 2016 hacking campaign of the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign. The Russian government hackers managed to infiltrate the German government’s “Informationsverbund Berlin-Bonn” (IVBB) network, a communication network which was specially designed as a secure communications platform.

  • Putin’s fear of democracy; Fancy Bear targets diplomats; Facebook weak filters, and more

    · What scares Vladimir Putin the most? It’s still democracy.

    · Trump has done nothing to stop Russia from meddling in the 2018 midterms

    · Report: Russia probed at least 7 states’ voter systems before the 2016 election

    · Follow the Russian natural gas

    · State Department targeting Russia with anti-propaganda program

    · Mueller asking if Trump knew about hacked Democratic emails before release

    · Fancy Bear targeting North American, European diplomats

    · Facebook’s ad confirmation process won’t stop the Russians

    · Facebook’s ad confirmation process won’t stop the Russians

  • Trump has not ordered disruption of Russia election meddling: NSA chief Adm. Rogers

    President Donald Trump has not ordered, authorized, or given the U.S. intelligence agencies additional powers to retaliate against Russian meddling and disinformation campaigns, and prevent Russia’s plans to meddle in the 2018 midterm election. Adm. Mike Rogers, director of the NSA and head of the U.S. Cyber Command, said that U.S. weak response to Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and to Russia’s on-going hacking and disinformation campaign, has persuaded Vladimir Putin that there was “little price to pay” for continuing interference in the U.S. political system. “Clearly, what we’ve done hasn’t been enough,” Rogers told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “They have not paid a price that is sufficient to change their behavior.”

  • Exploring solutions for the problem of "fake news"

    A new report, titled “Dead Reckoning: Navigating Content Moderation after ‘Fake News’,” analyzes nascent solutions recently proposed by platform corporations, governments, news media industry coalitions, and civil society organizations to the problem of identifying, handling, and mitigating fake news. The report then explores potential approaches to containing fake news including trust and verification, disrupting economic incentives, de-prioritizing content and banning accounts, as well as limited regulatory approaches.

  • Global AI experts warn of malicious use of AI in the coming decade

    Twenty-six experts on the security implications of emerging technologies have jointly authored an important new report, sounding the alarm about the potential malicious use of artificial intelligence (AI) by rogue states, criminals, and terrorists. Forecasting rapid growth in cyber-crime and the misuse of drones during the next decade – as well as an unprecedented rise in the use of “bots” to manipulate everything from elections to the news agenda and social media. the report calls for governments and corporations worldwide to address the clear and present danger inherent in the myriad applications of AI.

  • Financier of Russian troll farm supporting Trump funds anti-U.S. paramilitaries in Syria

    Yevgeniy Prigozhin is a close ally of Vladimir Putin and the financial backer of the St. Petersburg-based troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA). The IRA has been at the center of the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign which was launched in 2014 to sow discord and deepen polarization and conflict in the United States (and other Western democracies) – and which, in 2016, changed focus to help Donald Trump win the Republican nomination and then the White House. According to U.S. intelligence, a Prigozhin-financed paramilitary group of Russian mercenaries attacked U.S. troops and their allies in Syria earlier this month. Prigozhin was in close touch with Putin and senior aides to Assad in the days and weeks before and after the assault.

  • Pentagon says U.S. was told no Russians involved in Syria attack

    The Pentagon says U.S. military commanders were told by their Russian counterparts that there were no Russians in a paramilitary force whose attack on a base in eastern Syria earlier this month led to a massive counterstrike by U.S. forces. Up to a 100 Russians were killed in the attack, which was conducted by the Wagner Group, a paramilitary firm based in southern Russia and financed by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a close Putin ally who owns the St. Petersburg troll farm Internet Research Agency. Senior U.S. intelligence officials told ABC News that Prigozhin’s connection to the Wagner Group is important, as his private military work offers more evidence that he is pursuing Vladimir Putin’s global ambitions while providing the Russian leader some deniability that the actions are officially sanctioned.

  • National security officials' letter supporting bipartisan Secure Elections Act

    A bipartisan groups of former national security officials and lawmakers sent a letter to all U.S. senators in support of the Secure Elections Act (S. 2261). The legislation, introduced by Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), would empower states to address rising cybersecurity risks to American elections without undermining their control over the administration of those elections.

  • Dem. leaders want $300 million for FBI, DHS to protect U.S. election from Russia

    The Democratic leaders in the Senate and House on Wednesday sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), demanding that $300 million be given to the FBI and DHS so they can thwart more meddling by foreign powers. The letter urges state and local governments to bolster their defense against cyberattacks, including the replacement of outdated voter registration and voting systems, after the FBI and DHDS confirmed that Russian government operatives, in 2016, tried to attack these components of the U.S. election system in twenty-one states.