• Russia’s Election Hackers Are Back—and Targeting George Soros

    The Russian intelligence agency behind 2016’s election attacks is training its sights on billionaire financier George Soros. The move comes hot on the heels of a surge in U.S.-focused hacking by Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate with similarities to 2016 in targeting and methodology. The Kremlin’s targeting of Soros and his organization carries echoes of 2016, when the GRU dumped 2,500 files stolen from the Open Society Foundations for the debut of “DC Leaks”, the fake leak site the spies created for their 2016 election interference campaign. 

  • Four Ways Blockchain Could Make the Internet Safer, Fairer, and More Creative

    The internet is unique in that it has no central control, administration or authority, but in recent years internet services such as search engines and social media platforms have increasingly been provided by a small number of very large tech firms. The internet is slowly turning into something like the current financial system, which centrally monitors all transactions and uses that data to predict what people will buy in future. Bitcoin, which surfaced on the internet in 2008, sought to break the influence that large, private bodies have over what we do online. The researchers had finally solved one of the biggest concerns with digital currencies – that they need central control by the companies that operate them, in the same way traditional currencies are controlled by a bank. People researching Bitcoin – and blockchains which undergird it — may have overlooked one of its most useful applications – making the internet better for everyone who uses it.

  • Cyberattack Attribution and the Virtues of Decentralization

    In the midst of rising tensions between the United States and Iran over tanker attacks and Iran’s downing of a U.S. drone, reports emerged that U.S. Cyber Command had launched a responsive cyber operation against a group linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. As cyber operations by both states heat up, non-governmental actors may play pivotal roles, not just as potential victims and collateral damage from states’ actions, but also as accusers of states.

  • As Feds Struggle, States Create Their Own Anti-election Propaganda Programs

    As the 2020 presidential campaign heats up, individual states are ramping up education efforts to counter the threat posed by foreign disinformation campaigns to US elections. A lack of action at the federal level has prompted many states to craft their own programs designed to counter foreign efforts to undermine American democracy and educate the next generation of voters in schools.

  • Europe Built a System to Fight Russian Meddling. It’s Struggling.

    The European Union launched an ambitious effort earlier this year to combat election interference: an early-warning system that would sound alarms about Russian propaganda. Despite high expectations, however, records show that the system has become a repository for a mishmash of information, produced no alerts and is already at risk of becoming defunct.

  • Report: Pentagon Should Assume U.S. Satellites Are Already Hacked

    The U.S. and its allies need to double down on the cybersecurity of their satellites as space infrastructure becomes ever more integral to national security, according to a recent report. The Pentagon and other Western military forces rely heavily on space-based systems to guide weapons, gather intelligence and coordinate operations around the globe, but security gaps in their satellite infrastructure threaten to bring those functions to a grinding halt or worse, a new Chatham House study found. Jack Corrigan, writing in Defense One, quotes the study’s authots to say that as adversaries like Russia and China ramp up their offensive cyber capabilities, the Western world needs to lock down its space infrastructure against potentially crippling attacks. And in the meantime, “it would be prudent” for countries to assume their systems have already been infiltrated.”

  • Before Connecting an IoT Device, Heed Cybersecurity Advice

    Seemingly every appliance we use comes in a version that can be connected to a computer network. But each gizmo we add brings another risk to our security and privacy. So before linking your office’s new printer or coffee maker to the internet of things (IoT), have a look at an informational report from NIST outlining these risks and some considerations for mitigating them.

  • No, Russian Twitter Trolls Did Not Demonstrably Push Trump’s Poll Numbers Higher

    We should note at the outset that it’s clear that Russia’s interference in the election had a tangible effect. The information stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman that was later released by WikiLeaks was a staple of media coverage around the conventions in July 2016 and during the last month of the campaign. While measuring the effect of that leaked information is tricky, it’s clear that it had influence. The Russian social media push, though? Philip Bump writes in the Washington Post: “[A]s I’ve written before, there’s very little evidence that Russia effectively targeted American voters with messages that powered Trump’s victory.: He adds: “We certainly can’t definitively say that no votes were changed as a result of Russian disinformation on Twitter or that no one’s political views were influenced by it. We can say, though, that [a recent University of Tennessee] study is worth a great deal of skepticism — especially among those who are looking for evidence that Russia’s trolling handed the election to Trump.”

  • Defending democracy from cyberwarfare

    Foreign meddling in democratic elections, the proliferation of fake news and threats to national security through the “weaponization of social media” will be tackled by a new research Center being launched last week at Australia’s Flinders University.

  • Russian Twitter propaganda predicted 2016 U.S. election polls

    There is one irrefutable, unequivocal conclusion which both the U.S. intelligence community and the thorough investigation by Robert Mueller share: Russia unleashed an extensive campaign of fake news and disinformation on social media with the aim of distorting U.S. public opinion, sowing discord, and swinging the election in favor of the Republican candidate Donald Trump. But was the Kremlin successful in its effort to put Trump in the White House? Statistical analysis of the Kremlin’s social media trolls on Twitter in the run-up to the 2016 election social suggests that the answer is “yes.”

  • Personalized medicine software vulnerability uncovered

    A weakness in one common open source software for genomic analysis left DNA-based medical diagnostics vulnerable to cyberattacks. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories identified the weakness and notified the software developers, who issued a patch to fix the problem.

  • Second Florida city pays ransom to hackers

    A second small city in Florida has agreed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in ransom to cybercriminals who disabled its computer system. Days after ransomware crippled the city of about 12,000 residents, officials of Lake City agreed this week to meet the hackers’ ransom demand: 42 Bitcoin or about $460,000.

  • U.S. House passes election security bill after Russian hacking

    The U.S. House of Representatives, mostly along partisan lines, has passed legislation designed to enhance election security following outrage over Russian cyberinterference in the 2016 presidential election.The Democratic-sponsored bill would mandate paper ballot voting and postelection audit as well as replace outdated and vulnerable voting equipment. The House bill faces strong opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate.

  • Deepfake detection algorithms will never be enough

    You may have seen news stories last week about researchers developing tools that can detect deepfakes with greater than 90 percent accuracy. It’s comforting to think that with research like this, the harm caused by AI-generated fakes will be limited. Simply run your content through a deepfake detector and bang, the misinformation is gone!  James Vincent writers in The Verge that software that can spot AI-manipulated videos, however, will only ever provide a partial fix to this problem, say experts. As with computer viruses or biological weapons, the threat from deepfakes is now a permanent feature on the landscape. And although it’s arguable whether or not deepfakes are a huge danger from a political perspective, they’re certainly damaging the lives of women here and now through the spread of fake nudes and pornography.

  • Monitoring Russia’s and China’s disinformation campaigns in Latin America and the Caribbean

    Propaganda has taken on a different form. Social media and multiple sources of information have obviated the traditional heavy-handed tactics of misinformation. Today, governments and state media exploit multiple platforms to shade the truth or report untruths that exploit pre-existing divisions and prejudices to advance their political and geo-strategic agendas. Global Americans monitors four state news sources that have quickly gained influence in the region—Russia Today and Sputnik from Russia, and Xinhua and People’s Daily from China— to understand how they portray events for readers in Latin America and the Caribbean. Global Americans says it will feature articles that clearly intend to advance a partial view, agenda, or an out-and-out mistruth, labeling them either False or Misleading, explaining why the Global Americans team has determined them so, including a reference, if relevant, that disproves the article’s content.