• Russian Government-linked Hacker Group Releases Powerful Adroid Malware

    The St. Petersburg-based Special Technology Center (STC), a Russian technology group linked to the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence branch, was sanctioned by the U.S. government for its role in the 2016 Kremlin-directed cyberattacks on the U.S. election infrastructure. STC is back in the news. This time, for developing n especially powerful and persistent malware, dubbed Monokle.

  • Cyber Threats from the U.S. and Russia Are Now Focusing on Civilian Infrastructure

    Cyber confrontation between the United States and Russia is increasingly turning to critical civilian infrastructure, particularly power grids, judging from recent press reports. The typically furtive conflict went public last month, when the New York Times reported U.S. Cyber Command’s shift to a more offensive and aggressive approach in targeting Russia’s electric power grid. Although both sides have been targeting each other’s infrastructure since at least 2012, according to the Times article, the aggression and scope of these operations now seems unprecedented.

  • Johannesburg Power Company Crippled by Ransomware Attack

    City Power, the company supplying Johannesburg, South Africa’s economic hub, with electricity, has been attacked by a ransomware virus. The virus has “encrypted all our databases” representatives of the company said. Some of the company’s services have been crippled; the company said it may not be able to respond to a blackout; and more and more residents complain of loss of power. Johannesburg is not the first municipality to have its network infected by ransomware.

  • U.S. Intelligence Director Dan Coats Creates Senior Election Security Position

    Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats announced he established the position of Intelligence Community (IC) Election Threats Executive (ETE). The ETE will serve as the DNI’s principal adviser on threats to elections and matters related to election security. Additionally, the ETE will coordinate and integrate all election security activities, initiatives, and programs across the IC and synchronize intelligence efforts in support of the broader U.S. government.

  • U.S. Efforts to Counter Russian Disinformation and Malign Influence

    “President Vladimir Putin’s Russia seeks to weaken Western governments and transatlantic institutions, discredit democratic and liberal values, and create a post-truth world,” says Alina Polyakova. “Russian disinformation campaigns aim to amplify existing social divisions and further polarize democratic societies. As such, they don’t stop when the ballot box closes. Elections may provide an ideal high-impact opportunity for a disinformation actor, but the barrage of disinformation against Western democracies, including the United States, continues between election cycles. Disinformation, as a tool of Russia’s political warfare, is not new. But what is new is that, today, what used to take years, takes minutes. The advance of digital technology and communication allows for the high-speed spread of disinformation, rapid amplification of misleading content, and massive manipulation via unsecured points of influence. This digital ecosystem creates opportunities for manipulation that have exceeded the ability of democratic nations to respond, and sometimes even to grasp the extent of the challenge.”

  • How the U.S. Can Fight Russian Disinformation for Real

    “Where we ought to be setting the rules of engagement, the tone, and the moral compass in responding to Russia’s information war, the United States has been a tardy, timid, or tertiary player, with much of our public servants’ good work on this issue stymied by domestic politicization. Disinformation is not a political issue; it is a democratic one. Beyond that challenge, the United States has not invested sufficient resources to be competitive in the fight against disinformation. Russian information warfare continues to target the United States and our allies, as well as the rules-based international order. However, countering it has not been a budgetary priority” — Nina Jankowicz.

  • Cyber Threats Go Beyond Hackers and Scams but to Democracy Itself

    Much of the discussion surrounding threats of the information age are focused on digitally enabled foreign influence and interference. However, analysis of adversaries’ information campaigns as seen in the 2016 presidential elections and Brexit referendum doesn’t capture the full extent of the problem that is the manipulation society already created. Tech giants haven’t just inadvertently created a new path for information warfare. Rather they have created the architecture for the persistent manipulation of whole societies – an architecture freely used by both adversaries and the tech corporations themselves. Just as market capitalism led to a market society, surveillance capitalism has led to the manipulation society.

  • A Russian Military Contractor Has a Shady New Android Malware Kit

    A contractor for the Russian military that was sanctioned for interfering in the 2016 U.S. election has developed Android malware that is being used in “highly-targeted” attacks that exfiltrate data using third-party applications. The so-called “Monokle” malware is extremely invasive.It is capable of installing the attacker’s own software certificate in a certificate store and then using it for “man-in-the-middle” attacks, intercepting data before it reaches its intended recipient.

  • FBI Director: China No. 1 Counter-Intelligence Threat to the U.S.

    The FBI has more than 1,000 investigations of U.S. intellectual property theft in all 50 states with nearly all leading back to China, FBI Director Christopher Wray said, calling China the No. 1 counter-intelligence threat to the United States. Wray described the threat as “more deep, more diverse, more vexing, more challenging, more comprehensive and more concerning than any counter-intelligence threat that I can think of.”

  • Bolstering Democracy in the Digital Age

    The Knight Foundation announced a commitment of nearly $50 million in research to better understand how technology is transforming our democracy and the way we receive and engage with information. “Amidst a growing debate over technology’s role in our democracy, these investments will help ensure society is equipped to make evidence-based decisions on how to govern and manage the now-digital public square, Knight said.

  • Anonymizing Personal Data “Not Enough to Protect Privacy”: Study

    Current methods for anonymizing data leave individuals at risk of being re-identified, according to new research. Researchers demonstrated that allowing data to be used — to train AI algorithms, for example — while preserving people’s privacy, requires much more than simply adding noise, sampling datasets, and other de-identification techniques.

  • Making it Easier to Program and Protect the Web

    Behind the scenes of every web service, from a secure web browser to an entertaining app, is a programmer’s code, carefully written to ensure everything runs quickly, smoothly, and securely. MIT Professor Adam Chlipala builds tools to help programmers more quickly generate optimized, secure code.

  • FaceApp Makes Today’s Privacy Laws Look Antiquated

    Cameras are everywhere, and data brokers are vacuuming up information on individuals. But regulations have not kept pace. You should stop using FaceApp, because there are few controls on how your data, including your face data, will be used. But the problems that FaceApp poses aren’t unique. Walking around anywhere can get your face included in facial-recognition databases. How that information can be mined, manipulated, bought, or sold is minimally regulated—in the United States and elsewhere.

  • China Cyber Attacks on AFSPC Contractors ‘Stealing Us Blind’

    “Cyber keeps me up at night,” says Brig. Gen. DeAnna Burt, director of Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) operations and communications, because China’s cyber warriors are routinely breaching defense and space contractor networks and stealing data on a regular basis. “For every defense contractor in this room, the thing that keeps me up at night is how we manage data on your systems or your sub’s systems,” she warned. “We have had breaches … the Chinese and others stealing things from cleared defense contractors.”

  • A New Red Scare Is Reshaping Washington

    The Committee on the Present Danger, a long-defunct group that campaigned against the dangers of the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s, has recently been revived with the help of Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, to warn against the dangers of China. “These are two systems that are incompatible,” says Bannon. “One side is going to win, and one side is going to lose.”