• Doomsday clockIt Is Now 100 Seconds to Midnight

    The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock is now closer to midnight than ever in its history. The Bulletin cites worsening nuclear threat, lack of climate action, and rise of “cyber-enabled disinformation campaigns” in moving the clock hand. December 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the first edition of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, initially a six-page, black-and-white bulletin and later a magazine, created in anticipation that the atom bomb would be “only the first of many dangerous presents from the Pandora’s Box of modern science.”

  • Election securityEncryption “Backdoors” Would Weaken Election Security: Election Protection Coalition

    A coalition working on improving elections security sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr Wednesday, criticizing the AG for recent comments he made in he called on tech companies to create a “backdoor” in their devices. The backdoor would allow law enforcement to examine the communications of individuals arrested on suspicion of committing crimes or engaging in terrorism.

  • China syndromeLetting “A Fox Loose in A Chicken Coop”: U.K. Intel Anxious about Huawei Deal

    High-level officials at the U.K. Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British equivalent of the U.S. NSA (and Britain’s largest intelligence agency), said they were concerned about the imminent decision by the government of Boris Johnson to allow Huawei access to the U.K.  new telecoms network infrastructure. A high-level GCHQ source told The Times that handing Huawei access the U.K. telecom networks would be akin to “letting a fox loose in a chicken coop.”

  • SurveillanceIsraeli Court to Hear Case against Spy-Software Company NSO Behind Closed Doors

    On Thursday, a judge at Tel Aviv’s District Court begin hearing arguments as to why Israel’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) should revoke the export license of NSO Group. The firm’s Pegasus software has been used to target journalists and activists in several countries – including in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and the United Arab Emirates.

  • ArgumentWhy Britain's Spooks Are Wrong to Downplay the Risks of Huawei

    The U.K. wants Huawei’s 5G technology because of what John Hemmings correctly describes as the company’s “laughably cheap prices” (Huawei’s prices are cheap because the company is heavily subsidized by the Chinese government). Hemmings writes that it is this desire for inexpensive technology which leads British decisionmakers – among them Sir Andrew Parker, the outgoing director of MI5, Britain’s spy agency — to ignore the geopolitical context of an increasingly authoritarian China, which is funding Huawei’s expansion across Europe, and also ignore the reason behind China’s promotion of Huawei: The fact that China is the leading source of global cyber espionage.

  • ArgumentIf Russia Hacked Burisma, Brace for the Leaks to Follow

    The Kremlin hackers who helped put Donald Trump in the White House are at it again – this time in an effort to keep him there, and the hacking of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma by hackers of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service, is one of the first plays in their new campaign. Andy Greenberg writes that what should worry Americans – both voters and journalists – is the next play: the selective release of documents – some forged, some doctored – by Kremlin disinformation and propaganda specialists, timed to inflict maximum damage on Joe Bide’s campaign and be of maximum help to the Trump campaign. Greenberg asks: “Did the U.S. learn enough from 2016 to ignore” such selective leaks?

  • PerspectiveLatest “Intrusion Truth” Data Dump Peels Back Layers on Chinese Front Companies

    Intrusion Truth, the anonymous group which gained a name for itself by publishing detailed blog posts about suspected nation-state hackers, released new information last Thursday detailing how Chinese technology companies are recruiting attackers working on Beijing’s behalf.

  • CybersecurityThings Are about to Get a Lot More Confusing for Cybercriminals

    While cyberdeception is not totally new as a way to fend off cybercriminals – researchers have been looking into this technique for a few years now – researchers are now taking a unique approach: using cognitive science to inform how to deceive attackers effectively.

  • PerspectiveRussian Spies Hacked Ukrainian Gas Company at Heart of Trump Impeachment Trial, Company Says

    Operatives of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service which orchestrated the hacking and social media campaign in 2016 to help Donald Trump win the election, have hacked Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian gas company which is at the center of the upcoming impeachment trial of Trump. In 2019, Trump withheld congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure Ukraine to help him undermine the candidacy of former vice president Joe Biden by having Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’a president, announce that Ukraine was launching an investigation of Burisma, on whose board Joe Biden’s son served from 2014 to 2019.

  • China syndromeU.S. in Last-Ditch Effort to Sway U.K.’s Huawei Decision

    The government of Boris Johnson will today (Monday) face last-minute lobbying blitz by the Trump administration to exclude Huawei from the U.K. 5G network. Johnson’s decision is expected before the end of the month, and the U.S. has threatened that intelligence sharing with the U.K. would be restricted if Johnson did not block Huawei. The U.S. intelligence community has evidence that Huawei is using its technological reach to serve as the eyes and ears of the Chinese intelligence services.

  • 2020 conflicts2020 Conflicts: The Most Likely, and Most Damaging to U.S.

    The Council on Foreign Relations has asked policy experts to rank thirty ongoing or potential conflicts based on how likely they are to occur or escalate in the next year, and their possible impact on U.S. interests. For the second year in a row, a highly disruptive cyberattack on critical infrastructure, including electoral systems, was the top-ranked homeland security–related concern. A mass-casualty terrorist attack was a close second. A confrontation between the United States and Iran, North Korea, or with China in the South China Sea remain the biggest concerns overseas.

  • PerspectiveFacebook Takes a Step Forward on Deepfakes—and Stumbles

    The good news is that Facebook is finally taking action against deepfakes. The bad news is that the platform’s new policy does not go far enough. On 7 January Facebook announced a new policy banning deepfakes from its platform. Yet, instead of cheers, the company faced widespread dismay—even anger. What went wrong?

  • Truth decayThe Risks Posed by Deepfakes

    This use of a deepfake video is becoming more prevalent. While pornography currently accounts for the vast majority of deepfake videos, the technique can also be used to defraud, to defame, to spread fake news or to steal someone’s identity.

  • CybersecurityIf You Think the Millennium Bug Was a Hoax, Here Comes a History Lesson

    By Nir Oren

    It’s not hard to find echoes of the late 1990s in the zeitgeist. Now as then, impeachment is on many peoples’ minds, and films such as The Matrix and The Sixth Sense continue to influence culture. Another feature of the same era that perhaps has a more important, if subtler, influence is the infamous Y2K bug. Y2K was the great glitch in computer systems that looked capable of destroying civilization at the stroke of midnight on the millennium. In the end, however, nothing much went wrong. Y2K is in danger of becoming one of those moments in history from which exactly the wrong lessons have been drawn.

  • PerspectiveArtificial Intelligence: China “Uses Taiwan for Target Practice” as It Perfects Cyber-Warfare Techniques

    China has already deployed its expertise in artificial intelligence to make China into a surveillance state, power its economy, and develop its military. Phil Sherwell writes that now Taiwan’s cybersecurity chiefs have identified signs that Beijing is using AI to interfere in an overseas election for the first time. It is “a laboratory for China for adaptation and improvement on political warfare instruments which can then be unleashed against other targeted democratic societies,” Michael Cole, editor of the Taiwan Sentinel, said