• Democracy imperiledThe time of the trolls

    The West woke up to the threat of Kremlin trolls in 2016, however it had already been very damaging in 2014–2015. The Ukraine crisis saw the deployment of trolls to Facebook and VKontakte, as well as YouTube and Twitter. The investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election showed that trolling was never completely dependent on a technology like bots, nor that it was predominantly about Kremlin employees sitting somewhere in Russia manufacturing anti-Clinton propaganda. Rather, it was ordinary Americans and Europeans that were sharing the messages launched by trolls, and often posting them themselves.

  • The Russia connectionSen. Warner: Moscow has closed cyber gap with U.S.

    By Jeff Seldin

    The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee warns the United States is being outgunned in cyberspace, already having lost its competitive advantage to Russia while China is rapidly closing in. “When it comes to cyber, misinformation and disinformation, Russia is already our peer and in the areas of misinformation or disinformation, I believe is ahead of us,” Senator Mark Warner told an audience Friday in Washington.

  • The Russia connectionButina pleads guilty to meddling in U.S. politics under the direction of “Russian Official”

    ABC News has obtained a copy of Maria Butina’s plea agreement, and she has decided to plead guilty to conspiracy charges and cooperate with authorities’ ongoing investigations. Butina admits that she and an unnamed “U.S. Person 1,” which sources have identified as longtime Republican operative Paul Erickson, with whom she had a multiyear romantic relationship, “agreed and conspired, with a Russian government official (“Russian Official”) and at least one other person, for Butina to act in the United States under the direction of Russian Official without prior notification to the Attorney General.”

  • CybersecueityBolstering cyber-physical systems security

    Researchers have been awarded a grant of nearly $1 million to develop stronger safeguards for a wide array of complex systems that rely on computers – from public water supply systems and electric grids to chemical plants and self-driving vehicles. Increasingly, these cyber-physical systems, or CPS, are threatened by both physical and cyberattacks.

  • The Russian connectionNo time for complacency: How to combat foreign interference after the midterms

    By David Salvo and Joshua Kirschenbaum

    From cabinet officials in the Trump administration to the social media platform companies, there has been widespread acknowledgement in the United States that the Russian government and other authoritarian states targeted the midterm elections and will continue to interfere in U.S. democracy. The administration and Congress have tools at their disposal to raise the costs on those who interfered in the midterms and to deter authoritarian actors from interfering in U.S. democratic institutions and processes in the future. These include punitive measures like sanctions, defensive steps like improving election security and regulating political advertisement online, and congressional oversight functions to hold the administration accountable and keep pressure on tech companies to secure their platforms from manipulation.

  • Just the facts: The Russia connectionRussia is trying to undermine Americans’ confidence in the justice system, security experts warn

    By Bastien Inzaurralde

    Cybersecurity, national security, and legal experts are warning that Russia’s efforts to weaken America’s democratic institutions are not limited to elections — but also extend to the U.S. justice system. “While we all focused on the electoral system, I think this disinformation effort is organized to really attack any of the pillars of democracy,” Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, a former general counsel at the National Security Agency and the CIA, told the Washington Post’s Bastien Inzaurralde. “And when you think of the system that is the most highly regarded among the three branches of government, it is the court system. If you were installed in the position of a Russian disinformation planner, wouldn’t you want to erode that?”

  • Cyber data privacyDHS S&T awards $1.14 million for improving cyber data privacy

    DHS S&T has awarded a total of $1,149,900 across two organizations to develop new research and development (R&D) capabilities to enhance the management of privacy threats and vulnerabilities.

  • HackingGOP tells FBI that NRCC computers were subject of major cyber hack during 2018 midterms

    The Republican Party has told the FBI that its computer network was the victim of a major cyber hack during the 2018 midterms campaign. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) said it believes that thousands of sensitive emails were exposed as a result of the attack.

  • Future conflictReflecting on the past to counter future terrorism

    Warfare in the future will increasingly be about manipulating perceptions, whether by hostile states or non-state actors, according to terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins. The creation of fear and anxiety by terrorists, and foreign meddling in U.S. politics, are components of contemporary conflict. A major challenge facing the U.S. is how to get better at countering foes while strengthening national institutions, and U.S. democracy depends on it, Jenkins said.

  • CybersecurityNew “deception consistency” method could thwart computer hackers

    Can you deceive a deceiver? That’s the question that computer scientists have recently been exploring. They are looking at how to make cyber deception a more effective tool against malicious hackers. “The main objective of our work is to ensure deception consistency: when the attackers are trapped, they can only make observations that are consistent with what they have seen already so that they cannot recognize the deceptive environment,” the researchers say.

  • The Russia connectionDid Manafort meet Assange?

    Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trump’s campaign, the Guardian has been told. Sources have said Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016 – during the period when Manafort was made a key figure in Trump’s push for the White House. It is unclear why Manafort wanted to see Assange and what was discussed. But the last meeting is likely to come under scrutiny and could interest Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

  • The Russia connectionTrump regularly briefed on Manafort-Muller discussions

    A lawyer for Paul Manafort repeatedly briefed President Donald Trump’s lawyers on his client’s discussions with federal investigators after Manafort agreed to cooperate with the special counsel. This highly unusual arrangement intensified tensions between Trump’s team and the special counsel’s office after prosecutors discovered it. Muller’s office discovered that Manafort’s lawyers were regularly updating the Trump team after Manafort began cooperating with Muller’s office two months ago. Some legal experts speculated that it was an attempt by Manafort to secure a presidential pardon even as he worked with the special counsel in hopes of a lighter sentence.

  • The Russia connectionSeven commandments of fake news: Exposing the Kremlin’s methods

    A 3-series multimedia project by the New York Times reveals how current Kremlin disinformation campaigns stem from a long tradition of weaponizing information. Titled Operation Infektion, the series tells the story of a “political virus,” invented decades ago by the KGB to “slowly and methodically destroy its enemies from the inside,” and which the Kremlin continues to deliberately spread to this day.

  • Grid protectionPredicting the impact of hackers, earthquakes -- and squirrels -- on the power grid

    What would it take for an entire American city to lose power? What circumstances and failures in the electrical grid’s infrastructure would lead to a dramatic, long-term blackout? And what weak points could utility companies invest in to help prevent a catastrophic shutdown?

  • The Russia connectionTwitter bots played disproportionate role spreading misinformation during 2016 election

    An analysis of information shared on Twitter during the 2016 U.S. presidential election has found that automated accounts — or “bots” — played a disproportionate role in spreading misinformation online. The study analyzed 14 million messages and 400,000 articles shared on Twitter between May 2016 and March 2017 — a period that spans the end of the 2016 presidential primaries and the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017.