• Disinformation Agents Are Targeting Veterans in Run-Up to 2020 Election

    Disinformation campaigns are targeting U.S. veterans through social media, seeking to tap the group’s influential status in their communities and high voting turnout in order to influence elections and fuel discord. Katerina Patin writes that veterans present an ideal target for foreign actors. In addition to their social status and voting rate, veterans are also more likely to run for office and more likely to work in government than any other demographic.

  • U.S. Security Leaders Warn About Russian, Iranian Interference in 2020 Polls

    Top U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials have joined together to warn Americans about attempts by Russia, Iran, and other foreign “adversaries” to interfere with next year’s presidential election. “Our adversaries want to undermine our democratic institutions, influence public sentiment, and affect government policies,” the leaders of the Trump’s administration on security matters said in a joint statement released on 5 November. “Russia, China, Iran, and other foreign malicious actors all will seek to interfere in the voting process or influence voter perceptions,” they added.

  • Are Journalists Ready for Foreign Interference in 2020?

    Last month, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released volume two of its investigation into Russian interference, which details an extensive campaign that aims to sow division and undermine American democracy via social media. One of Russia’s key strategies is to target journalists. As the report describes, “Information warfare, at its core, is a struggle over information and truth. A free and open press — a defining attribute of democratic society — is a principal strategic target for Russian disinformation.” By targeting journalists and news outlets in democratic countries, authoritarians weaken a key pillar of democratic societies.

  • Inside the Microsoft Team Tracking the World’s Most Dangerous Hackers

    When the Pentagon recently awarded Microsoft a $10 billion contract to transform and host the U.S. military’s cloud computing systems, the mountain of money came with an implicit challenge: Can Microsoft keep the Pentagon’s systems secure against some of the most well-resourced, persistent, and sophisticated hackers on earth?

  • Officials Just Had Their Last Chance to Road Test Elections Before 2020

    From a security perspective, Tuesday’s odd-year election went off without a hitch: Officials didn’t spot any major disruptions from hacking or disinformation campaigns. But Joseph Marks writes that the fight to protect the 2020 contest is only ramping up. And officials were quick to warn that it will be a far juicier target for foreign actors.

  • Using Algorithms to Seek Out Voter Fraud

    Concerns over voter fraud have surged in recent years, especially after federal officials reported that Russian hackers attempted to access voter records in the 2016 presidential election. Administrative voting errors have been reported, too; for example, an audit by state officials revealed that 84,000 voter records were inadvertently duplicated by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in the 2018 June primary election. Researchers are helping with the situation by developing new algorithms for tracking voter data.

  • Foreign Money Flows into U.S. Politics

    Untold amounts of foreign donations are flowing into America’s political system, with little accountability or limits. Although election experts say it’s impossible to accurately estimate the extent of foreign financial influence over U.S. elections, many agree it has increased substantially since a landmark Supreme Court ruling nearly a decade ago opened the flood gates.

  • Depoliticizing Foreign Interference

    Russian interference in the 2016 election was one of the most effective and dangerous foreign operations ever conducted against the United States. Even worse, the risk of foreign meddling is likely to grow in the coming years. Jessica Brandt writes with just a year left before the next presidential election, U.S. leaders are still grappling with foreign interference in the last election. Postmortems of the 2016 campaign—in testimony from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller and a bipartisan report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence—have brought renewed attention to the ongoing risks, which have been made more difficult by new actors and new technologies. “As the threat has grown, the political polarization that surrounds election interference has deepened,” she writes, adding:. “Despite this bleak picture, progress is possible.

  • Are We Making Cyber Ransoms Worse?

    Nobody intends to become a hostage. Rather than facing a masked gunman or mafioso hinting at misfortune, these days trouble begins with an email. The link may not work, or there may be a cryptic ransom note demanding an exorbitant payment in cryptocurrency. A frantic phone call from the IT department will follow. It is the call every business leader fears: Your computer system has been breached and data has been stolen or locked up with encryption that cannot be broken. This scenario is not far-fetched. It is not even uncommon.

  • As Russia Makes 2020 Play, Democratic Campaigns Say They Are in the Dark, and Experts Fear U.S. Elections Are Vulnerable

    Several Democratic presidential campaigns targeted by a Russia-based operation on Facebook’s popular Instagram app said they had been unaware of the new foreign disinformation efforts until the tech giant announced them publicly last week, raising alarms that American democracy remains vulnerable to foreign interference even after three years of investigations into the Kremlin’s attack on the 2016 election. Some said they were unnerved by the nature of the recent Instagram posts, which seemed to target battleground states and demonstrated a nuanced understanding of the dynamics at play in the 2020 Democratic primary race.

  • A Brief History of Russian Hackers' Evolving False Flags

    Deception has always been part of the hacker playbook, Andy Greenberg writes in Wired. “But it’s one thing for intruders to hide their tracks, and another to adopt an invented identity, or even frame another country for a cyberattack. Russia’s hackers have done all of the above, and now have gone one step further. In a series of espionage cases, they hijacked another country’s hacking infrastructure and used it to spy on victims and deliver malware.”

  • The Russian “Dark State” and the Russian Interference in the 2016 U.S. Election

    How do we understand Russia’s multi-layered interference in the 2016 elections? Elizabeth Wood, an MIT Russia expert and professor of history, analyzes Russia’s motives, noting that in his televised speech on May 29, Robert Mueller left no room for doubt about Russian interference in the 2016 election, when he said: “I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments, that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American.” Wood says: “These tactics have been researched by excellent scholars, and they are worth considering in the larger context of Russian statecraft. After all, what I would call the Russian ‘dark state’ — i.e., that part of the state that operates abroad for nefarious purposes, including most recently interference in Ukraine, in Western European elections, and in the poisonings and beatings of both Russians and foreign nationals around the world — has been around for a long time; it is not an invention of Russian President Vladimir Putin, though he has certainly expanded its reach.”

  • Thwarting Cybersecurity Attacks Depends on Strategic, Third-Party Investments

    Companies interested in protecting themselves and their customers from cyber-attacks need to invest in themselves and the vendors that handle their data, according to new research. To mitigate risks, the researchers recommend companies that are typically competitors become allies in strengthening cyber security supply chains.

  • Clinton’s Email Practices Were Risky but Not Malicious, State Department Finds

    A multi-year State Department investigation into the private email server that haunted Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign is complete. During the 2016 election, Donald Trump called Clinton’s use of the server “one of the great crimes” of our time, repeating this wild accusation as late as last month, during a press conference at the UN. But after reviewing 33,000 emails sent to or from Clinton, investigators found that the former secretary of state’s practice of using a private email server for official work presented a security risk, but said there was no “systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information” by Clinton or her associates, according to a State Department report presented to Congress last week. This is the second time a federal agency has come to this conclusion: The FBI began an investigation into Clinton’s email use in 2015. It found Clinton and her staff didn’t intend to mishandle classified information and declined to bring charges.

  • Interdisciplinary Cyberengineering Team Wins $6M Grant to Combat Cyberattacks

    A team of Northern Arizona University researchers won a three-year, $6.3 million grant from the U.S. Air Force to develop nontraditional solutions to the increasing danger of cyberattacks and cyber warfare.

    The research will examine the practicality of outsmarting hackers by using new hardware technologies. The researchers say the impact of this work reaches all corners of modern life, helping to protect the computers that control factories, power plants, transportation systems, drones, personal medical devices and more.