• U.S., Gulf allies impose sanctions on Hezbollah’s top leaders

    In the latest iteration of economic warfare against Iran and its proxies, the United States and its Gulf allies imposed new sanctions on Hezbollah and its top officials. The sanctions targeted Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, his deputy Naim Qassem, and the group’s decision-making body, the Shura Council. Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed terror group that exercises complete political and military control over Lebanon.

  • The top three trends we miss when discussing Russian ads

    Last week, the Democrats of the House Intelligence Committee released the trove of over 3,500 Facebook ads purchased by the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) from 2015 to 2017. For the most part, the release confirms what we already knew: Accounts based in Russia exploited America’s societal fissures to sow chaos in the United States in order to weaken our democratic structures, force us to turn inward, and thereby increase Russia’s standing in the world. But taken holistically, three trends emerge that are not evident when only highlighting the most divisive content.

  • What's trending in fake news?

    Researchers have launched upgrades to two tools playing a major role in countering the spread of misinformation online. The improvements to Hoaxy and Botometer aim to address concerns about the spread of misinformation and to build trust in quality journalism. A third tool — which goes by the name Fakey — is an educational game designed to make people smarter news consumers, was also launched with the upgrades.

  • Privacy advocates urge New York court to ban warrantless searches at the border

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed an amicus brief Tuesday, along with the ACLU and NYCLU, urging a New York State appellate court to rule that border agents need a probable cause warrant to search the electronic devices of people at international airports and other border crossings. EFF notes that recent weeks saw court victories for travelers’ digital privacy.

  • U.S. has spent $2.8 trillion on counterterrorism since 2002

    From 2002 to 2017, the United States spent $2.8 trillion on counterterrorism, including $175 billion in 2017 — an eleven-fold increase over 2001 levels — and a peak of $260 billion in 2008, according to a new report. The report tracks funding changes across nearly two decades of shifting counterterrorism strategies, identifies concerns about the lack of transparent and accurate basis from which to assess U.S. counterterrorism policy, and makes recommendations for redress.

  • More civilians killed during campaign to liberate Mosul than during ISIS rule

    Mortality rates were higher during the nine months of military liberation of Mosul, Iraq, than during the twenty-nine months of exclusive ISIS control, according to a new study. The research shows that high mortality rates resulted from the military offensive despite the use of modern precision-targeted ordnance.

  • Putin’s doctrine blends “bare-face lying,” “social media disinformation,” and “criminal thuggery”: MI5 Director

    In a speech on Wednesday, MI5 Director General Andrew Parker discussed the security challenges the West is facing, chief among them the threat from Russia. Parker said the threat from Russia is a “hybrid threat,” as Russia is a practitioner of a doctrine “blending media manipulation, social media disinformation and distortion with new and old forms of espionage, high levels of cyberattacks, military force, and criminal thuggery.” Parker added: “Our democracies, our societies and our bonds of partnership are strong. But we must not be complacent about the longer-term potential impact of this [Russian] activity on the international rules-based order that supports our security and prosperity.”

  • The Iran nuclear deal could still be saved, experts say

    Revising the Iran nuclear deal, often known as the JCPOA, won’t be easy. But the fact remains: If the world wants to bring Iran fully into the global economy, Iran needs America – and vice versa. That realization should be enough to bring both sides back to the negotiating table.

  • White House eliminates Cyber Coordinator position

    Rob Joyce, the White House Cyber Coordinator, left his position Friday to return to the National Security Agency (NSA), and the White House, instead of replacing him, has decided to eliminate the position. Gary Kasparov, Russian chess champion and critic of President Vladimir Putin, said that doing away with that job as the United States is still trying to cope with the impact of Russia’s 2016 election interference, and as it faces ongoing and mounting cyberthreats and attacks, is “[l]ike eliminating the Navy after Pearl Harbor.”

  • Kaspersky to move data center from Russia to Switzerland

    Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based anti-virus maker will open a Swiss data center after allegations that Russian hackers exploited the company’s software to spy on customers. The said the new location would help it “rebuild trust.”

  • The Facebook ad dump shows the true sophistication of Russia’s influence operation

    The massive trove of Facebook ads House Intelligence Committee Democrats released last Tuesday offers a breathtaking view of the true sophistication of the Russian government’s digital operations during the 2016 presidential election. Many stories have already been written about the U.S. intelligence community’s investigation of the hacking operation Russian intelligence services carried out to influence the election in favor of then-candidate Donald Trump. Derek Hawkins writes that the more than 3,000 “incredibly specific and inflammatory” Russian ads released last week allow us for the first time to “have a swath of empirical and visual evidence of Russia’s disinformation campaign.”

  • War on fake news could be won with the help of behavioral science

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently acknowledged his company’s responsibility in helping create the enormous amount of fake news that plagued the 2016 election – after earlier denials. Yet he offered no concrete details on what Facebook could do about it. Fortunately, there’s a way to fight fake news that already exists and has behavioral science on its side: the Pro-Truth Pledge project. I was part of a team of behavioral scientists that came up with the idea of a pledge as a way to limit the spread of misinformation online. Two studies that tried to evaluate its effectiveness suggest it actually works.

  • Mountain collapsed in North Korea after most recent nuclear test

    As North Korea’s president pledges to “denuclearize” the Korean peninsula, scientists published the most detailed view yet of the site of the country’s latest and largest underground nuclear test on 3 September 2017. The new picture of how the explosion altered the mountain above the detonation highlights the importance of using satellite radar imaging, called SAR (synthetic aperture radar), in addition to seismic recordings to more precisely monitor the location and yield of nuclear tests in North Korea and around the world.

  • Earthquake science could have predicted North Korea’s nuclear climbdown

    Just days after North Korea announced it was suspending its testing program, scientists revealed that the country’s underground nuclear test site had partially collapsed. The collapse may have played a role in North Korea’s change in policy. If correct, and with the hindsight of this research, we might have speculated that the North Koreans would want to make such an offer of peace. This shows how scientific analysis normally reserved for studying natural earthquakes can be a powerful tool in deciphering political decisions and predicting future policy across the globe.

  • The past as prologue? Iran’s nuclear weapons project

    In a major coup, Israel’s intelligence operatives smuggled tens of thousands of documents from Iran’s nuclear weapons archive – the existence of which Iran had denied – which show the methodical steps Iran took between 199 and 2003 to build nuclear weapons. Two nuclear weapons experts say that the very existence of the archive is proof that Iran not only lied about its past nuclear weapons plans, but also about its future plans.