• China-Backed Hackers Target Biden Campaign in Early Sign of 2020 Election Interference

    Google announced earlier this month that Chinese-backed hackers were observed targeting former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign staff. Google said that hackers did not appear to compromise the campaign’s security, but the surveillance was a reminder of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. 

  • Was the Coronavirus Outbreak an Intelligence Failure?

    As the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, it’s clear that having better information sooner, and acting more quickly on what was known, could have slowed the spread of the outbreak and saved more people’s lives. Initial indications are that the U.S. intelligence community did well in reporting on the virus once news of the outbreak in China became widely known by early January. Whether it could have done more before that time, and why the Trump administration did not act more decisively early on, will have to wait for a future national coronavirus commission to help us sort out.

  • Trial of Two Neo-Nazi Suspects in Killing of German Politician Begins

    A German court on Tuesday began hearing the legal case against two neo-Nazis accused of killing a regional German politician last year – the first political assassination by the far-right in Germany since the Second World War (there were several assassinations of leading businesspeople in the 1970s, carried out by left-wing terrorists). The crime shocked Germany and highlighted the steadily growing threat of far-right violent extremism in the country.

  • Blind Networks in the Extreme-Right

    A potent combination of technology and a fractured extreme-right is producing innovative organizations that are harder to police. Anonymous networks can draw on a pool of ready-politicized recruits and offer internet-bound activists an opportunity to get involved in physical activism at minimal cost and seemingly with little risk. The scope for more coordinated forms of direct action seems limited under this organizational arrangement, but this type of activity is a good opportunity for those looking to make the leap from digital-only to real-world activism.

  • U Nevada-Reno’s programs Designated Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD)

    The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) co-sponsor Centers for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD). The aim of the program is to ensure cyber defense professionals graduate from institutions of higher education with theoretical and hands-on experience in cybersecurity. After a rigorous review process, the University of Nevada-Reno’s B.S. in computer science with a minor in cybersecurity was recently designated a CAE-CD.

  • Nuclear Weapon Modernization Continues but Outlook for Arms Control Is Bleak: Report

    The just-released annual report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) assesses the current state of armaments, disarmament, and international security. The report finds is that despite an overall decrease in the number of nuclear warheads in 2019, all nuclear weapon-possessing states continue to modernize their nuclear arsenals.

  • Ensuring Safety of Migrants at the U.S. Borders

    Every day, undocumented migrants attempt to enter the U.S. between the ports of entry, specifically at our southwest border. Oftentimes, they face life-threatening circumstances. They are miles away from shelter, food, and water; exposed to harsh terrain and drastic changes in temperature; and lack the means to receive help if they need it. To better monitor migrant activity and provide life-saving aid when needed, ICE and DHS S&T collaborated to implement the Missing Migrants Program.

  • Negotiating with Jihadists in the Sahel and Nigeria

    Though the United States may be drawing down its forces in Western Africa, France, the other foreign power operating in the Sahel, has boosted troop numbers in the region from 4,500 to 5,100. Jacob Zenn, the author, most recently, of Unmasking Boko Haram: Exploring Global Jihad in Nigeria, writes that the increase came as a response to a January meeting with the G5 Sahel (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger) that affirmed the Sahel’s top security threat is the Islamic State’s local affiliate, popularly known as the Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISGS), which is formally part of the Islamic State’s West African Province.

  • Yielding to Chinese Demand, Zoom Closes Accounts of Regime Critics

    Three U.S. lawmakers sent letters to Zoom Video Communications, asking the company to clarify its data-collection practices and relationship with the Chinese government. The letters were sent after the firm said it had suspended user accounts in response to demands from the Chinese government. “It is time for you to pick a side: American principles and free-speech, or short-term global profits and censorship,” Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) implored in his letter to Zoom’s CEO.

  • British Decision to Oust Huawei Is Settled, Analyst Says

    A British political insider says there is no longer any doubt that the London government will abandon plans to incorporate technology from Chinese tech giant Huawei in the rollout of its 5G telecommunications network. The government will make an official announcement in the coming weeks of its plans to “sunset” Huawei’s involvement in the network.

  • Twitter Removes 170,000 Accounts Used by China, Russia, and Turkey to Spread Disinformation

    Twitter said Thursday it had removed more than 170,000  accounts used by China, Russia and Turkey to spread disinformation. The accounts were part of a network used to push propaganda, attack critics of the government, and spread misinformation. A majority of the accounts were linked to China.

  • High-Tech Surveillance Amplifies Police Bias and Overreach

    Local, state and federal law enforcement organizations use an array of surveillance technologies to identify and track protesters, from facial recognition to military-grade drones. Police use of these national security-style surveillance techniques – justified as cost-effective techniques that avoid human bias and error – has grown hand-in-hand with the increased militarization of law enforcement. Extensive research, including my own, has shown that these expansive and powerful surveillance capabilities have exacerbated rather than reduced bias, overreach and abuse in policing, and they pose a growing threat to civil liberties.

  • Risks of—and Solutions for -- Remote Voting

    Delaware, West Virginia, and New Jersey have either deployed OmniBallot or plan to do so for fully online voting, also referred to as “electronic ballot return.” Other states including Colorado, Florida, Oregon, Ohio and Washington, the New York Times reports, use it to deliver blank ballots to registered voters who can mark them and return them by fax, email or mail. Election security researchers have found troubling vulnerabilities in OmniBallot.

  • Designating the Russian Imperial Movement a Terrorist Organization: A Drop in the Bucket of Needed U.S. Counter-Extremism Responses

    On 6 April 2020, the U.S. State Department designated the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) as a terrorist organization and placed its leaders on its list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists. Mariya Omelicheva writes that this unprecedented move—the first time in history the State Department has deployed tools reserved for jihadist groups against a white supremacist organization—comes at a time of rising right-wing extremism and violence in the United States and around the globe as well as the internationalization of white supremacist movements.

  • Congress Should Investigate the Trump Administration’s Coronavirus Response

    Charlie Martel, who in 2008-2009 led the staff of a bipartisan Senate investigation of the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, writes that “Today, as with Katrina, the nation is faced with a deeply flawed federal response to an ongoing crisis with catastrophic consequences on a historic scale.” He adds: “Having apparently discarded the careful pandemic planning it inherited, the Trump administration has no evident strategy guiding its response to the complex crises created by the coronavirus. Administration statements and decisions have been impulsive, contradictory and in some instances dangerous. Congressional oversight is necessary to review the federal response and correct it where necessary.”