• U.S. charges woman with links to Kremlin, U.S. politicians as covert Russian agent

    Maria Butina, a 29-year old Russian national in the United States on a student visa, cultivated ties with American conservative politicians and groups – especially the NRA – and was close to people around Donald Trump. She bragged at parties in Washington that she could use her political connections to help get people jobs in the Trump administration after the election. She was arrested on Monday and charged with being a covert Russian agent. The criminal complaint says that she reported to Aleksandr Torshin, a Russian oligarch who doubles as a cut-out for Russian intelligence. Torshin became a lifetime member of the NRA in 2012, and is now being investigated for allegedly steering millions of dollars from the Kremlin to the NRA in 2016, which the NRA then used to fund pro-Trump advertising and campaign events.

  • Helping state, local election officials enhance cybersecurity

    The University of West Florida Center for Cybersecurity recently partnered with the Florida Department of State and election officials across Florida to provide training for supervisors of elections and key personnel to enhance cybersecurity resiliency ahead of the 2018 elections. In January 2017, DHS designated voting systems as critical infrastructure. In May 2018, DHS, the FBI, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence spoke to Congress about the importance of preparing state and local election officials for the coming Russian government cyberattacks on U.S. election systems, attacks which experts expect to be more sophisticated – and disruptive — than those the Kremlin launched in 2016.

  • Reports detail Israeli raid on Iran's nuclear documents

    Israel has revealed new details of how its spy agency smuggled out nuclear documents from Iran earlier this year, although the material does not appear to provide evidence that Iran failed to fulfill its commitments under the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers.

  • U.S. intel chief on Russia’s unrelenting cyberattacks: “The warning lights are blinking red”

    Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Friday that the U.S. digital infrastructure “is literally under attack” by Russia. “These actions are persistent, they’re pervasive, and they are meant to undermine America’s democracy on a daily basis, regardless of whether it is election time or not.” Coats emphasized that Russia’s hostile cyber activities go beyond targeting elections and sowing division, to attempts to target vulnerabilities in critical U.S. infrastructure, trying to infiltrate energy, water, nuclear, and manufacturing sectors. He compared today’s warning indicators related to Russian cyberattacks to the warning indicators in the run-up to 9/11. “It was in the months prior to September 2001, when according to then-CIA director George Tenet, the system was blinking red,” he said. “And here we are nearly two decades later, and I’m here to say the warning lights are blinking red again.”

  • U.S. Homeland Security chief: Russia sowing divisions among Americans

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said U.S. intelligence officials are seeing “persistent Russian efforts” to use social media and other resources to create divisions among the American people. She said the Russians are using social media, “sympathetic spokespeople, and other fronts to sow discord and divisiveness amongst the American people.” “Though votes were not changed” during the 2016 election, she said, “any attempt to interfere in our elections — successful or unsuccessful — is a direct attack on our democracy.”

  • 12 Russian intelligence operatives criminally charged for hacking, leaking DNC emails in 2016

    The U.S. Justice Department today (Friday) has criminally charged twelve Russian intelligence officers for the hacking and leaking emails of senior Democratic Party officials during the 2016 presidential campaign. The hacking and leaking of the emails were part of a broad and effective Kremlin effort to help Donald Trump win the November 2016 election. The 11-count indictment spells out in granular detail a carefully planned and executed attack on the information security of Democrats, planting hundreds of malware files on Democrats’ computer systems, stealing information, and then laundering the pilfered material through fake personas and others to try to influence voters’ opinions. The twelve Russian intelligence operatives indicted on Friday join thirteen other Russian individuals and three Russian companies who, in February, were criminally charged by Mueller’s team for interfering in the presidential campaign, using social media, and coordinating with low-level Trump campaign activists.

  • British defense chief says Russian “attack” led to woman's death

    The residue of the poisonous chemical Novichock, which Russian intelligence agents used in early March in Salisbury, U.K., in an assassination attempt of a former Russian spy and his daughter, poisoned two residents from neighboring Amesbury, killing one of them. “The simple reality is that Russia has committed an attack on British soil which has seen the death of a British citizen,” Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said.

  • British defense chief says Russian “attack” led to woman's death

    The residue of the poisonous chemical Novichock, which Russian intelligence agents used in early March in Salisbury, U.K., in an assassination attempt of a former Russian spy and his daughter, poisoned two residents of the town, killing one of them. “The simple reality is that Russia has committed an attack on British soil which has seen the death of a British citizen,” Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said.

  • “A clear preference for President-elect Trump”: Senate Intel Committee on Russia’s 2016 influence campaign

    On Tuesday, the GOP-led Senate Intelligence Committee, after sixteen months of investigation, has released the second unclassified installment of its report on the Russian election activities in 2016. The report was unanimously approved by all members of the committee. The three main takeaways: First, the January 2017 ICA [the Intelligence Community Assessment of Russia active-measures campaign to compromise the 2016 presidential election] “is a sound intelligence product”; second, “Russian efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operation”; third, “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”

  • Fears of Russian cyberattacks ahead of Mexico’s Sunday elections

    Mexico is holding its presidential and parliamentary election on 1 July, and the last six months provided further evidence that Russia is doing in Mexico what it has effectively done in the United States, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Britain, Spain, Italy, Sweden, the western Balkans, and many other places: Using a broad and sophisticated campaign, combining disinformation on social media and hacking, to promote the political candidates, parties, and causes which would serve Russia’s interests.

  • Putin ready to reiterate denials of election meddling to Trump

    The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin is prepared to reiterate to U.S. President Donald Trump that Moscow did not meddle in the 2016 U.S. elections if Trump raises the issue during their upcoming summit. In a tweet Thursday morning, Trump reiterated his refusal to accept the fact of Russia’s interference, a position which runs counter to the entire U.S. intelligence community as well as all high ranking officials within his own cabinet and the entire Senate Intelligence Committee.

  • Russia’s “destructive” bugs lurking in U.K. computers waiting to strike: U.K. chief cyber spook

    Russia already has “destructive” bugs hidden, lurking in British computers waiting to strike, the head of U.K. National Cyber Security Center told a parliamentary committee. Ciaran Martin said that the Kremlin’s list of targets to be disrupted has expanded beyond the U.K.’s “hard infrastructure” such as energy networks to include democratic institutions and the media. “In the last two years, we have seen a consistent rise in the appetite for attack from Russia on critical sectors, as well as diversification to other sectors they may attack. In addition to the more traditional targeting of hard infrastructure, like energy infrastructure, we have seen against the West as a whole the targeting of softer power - democratic institutions, media institutions and things relating to freedom of speech,” Martin said.

  • Senate Intel Committee moves to bolster election security

    The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence yesterday unanimously approved the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019. Among the main goals of the bill is strengthening the ability of the United States to detect, block, and limit the ability of the Russian government to compromise the integrity of U.S. elections. The bill also aims to shore up the security clearance process, which many experts regard as dysfunctional. “In the wake of foreign efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections, which this Committee continues to investigate, I am pleased to see this bill contains comprehensive measures to enhance our election security. It is vital that we ensure our voting process remains fair and free from undue influence,” said Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), the chairman of the committee.

  • Russian billionaire's firm moves to dismiss U.S. election meddling case

    The Kremlin’s 2016 broad disinformation campaign in the U.S. was carried out by Russian company Concord Management and its Internet Research Agency (IRA) “troll factory” in St. Petersburg. Concord was among the three Russian organizations, along with thirteen Russian individuals, indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office in February in an alleged criminal conspiracy to tamper with the U.S. election and boost Trump’s prospects. On 25 June, Concord — using arguments made recently by President Trump himself — has asked a U.S. judge to dismiss the case brought against it by Mueller.

  • “The Russians play hard”: Inside Russia’s attempt to hack 2018 -- and 2020

    So what exactly is Russia planning for the upcoming election? The correct question, a half dozen security experts and former and current government officials say, is what are they not planning? And there will be new tactics, too. Nick Bilton writes in Vanity Fair that more than one expert told him that Russia will try to go after actual voting booths in smaller, more contentious districts across the country. The world we live in so intertwined with technology that you could imagine Russian hackers disrupting how we even get to the polls on Election Day. Ride-sharing services could be hacked. We’ve already seen instances of hackers faking transit problems on mapping apps, like Waze, to send people in the wrong direction, or away from a certain street. Perhaps most terrifying of all, one former official told Bilton, are the possibilities arising from Russia’s alleged 2015 cyber-attack on Kiev’s power grid, which plunged the city into darkness.