• Combatting truth decayMisinformation campaigns, social media, and science

    In some key domains of public life there appear to be coordinated efforts to undermine the reputation of science and innovation. Scientists now protest in the streets just to get governments to base policy on scientific evidence. Long-held scientific consensus on issues like the causes and consequences of climate change or the importance of vaccines for public health is increasingly contested. A new initiative will examine the interplay between systematic misinformation campaigns, news coverage, and increasingly important social media platforms for public understanding of science and technological innovation.

  • The Russia connectionArtificial intelligence is the weapon of the next Cold War

    By Jeremy Straub

    As during the Cold War after the Second World War, nations are developing and building weapons based on advanced technology. During the Cold War, the weapon of choice was nuclear missiles; today it’s software, whether it is used for attacking computer systems or targets in the real world. Russian rhetoric about the importance of artificial intelligence is picking up – and with good reason: As artificial intelligence software develops, it will be able to make decisions based on more data, and more quickly, than humans can handle. As someone who researches the use of AI for applications as diverse as drones, self-driving vehicles and cybersecurity, I worry that the world may be entering – or perhaps already in – another cold war, fueled by AI. In a recent meeting at the Strategic Missile Academy near Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that AI may be the way Russia can rebalance the power shift created by the U.S. outspending Russia nearly 10-to-1 on defense each year. Russia’s state-sponsored RT media reported AI was “key to Russia beating [the] U.S. in defense.” With Russia embracing AI, other nations that don’t or those that restrict AI development risk becoming unable to compete – economically or militarily – with countries wielding developed AIs. Advanced AIs can create advantage for a nation’s businesses, not just its military, and those without AI may be severely disadvantaged. Perhaps most importantly, though, having sophisticated AIs in many countries could provide a deterrent against attacks, as happened with nuclear weapons during the Cold War.

  • The Russian connectionRussia has been cyber-attacking “U.K. media, telecommunications, and energy sectors”: U.K. cybersecurity chief

    Ciaran Martin, CEO of the U.K. National Cyber Security Center (NCSC): “I can confirm that Russian interference, seen by the National Cyber Security Center, has included attacks on the U.K. media, telecommunications and energy sectors. That is clearly a cause for concern — Russia is seeking to undermine the international system.”

  • CyberthreatsNATO launches Cyber Operations Center

    Russia’s successful cyber-interference on behalf of its favored candidates, partiers, and causes in the United States, France, the Netherland, Germany, and the United Kingdom; its effective cyberattacks on infrastructure facilities in Ukraine and the Baltic states; and the growing cyberthreats from China, North Korea, and Iran, have convinced the member states of NATO that these threats must be met in a more systematic and comprehensive fashion.

  • CybersecurityNorth Korea sent spear phishing emails to U.S. electric companies

    Cybersecurity firm FireEye says it can confirm that the company’s devices detected and stopped spear phishing emails sent on 22 September 2017 to U.S. electric companies by “known cyber threat actors likely affiliated with the North Korean government.” The activity was early-stage reconnaissance, and not necessarily indicative of an imminent, disruptive cyberattack that might take months to prepare if it went undetected (judging from past experiences with other cyber threat groups).

  • The Russian connectionTracing the sources of today’s Russian cyberthreat

    By Dorothy Denning

    Cyberspace is an active battleground, with cybercriminals, government agents and even military personnel probing weaknesses in corporate, national and even personal online defenses. Some of the most talented and dangerous cybercrooks and cyberwarriors come from Russia, which is a longtime meddler in other countries’ affairs. Over decades, Russian operators have stolen terabytes of data, taken control of millions of computers and raked in billions of dollars. They’ve shut down electricity in Ukraine and meddled in elections in the U.S. and elsewhere. They’ve engaged in disinformation and disclosed pilfered information such as the emails stolen from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, following successful spearphishing attacks. Who are these operators, why are they so skilled and what are they up to?

  • Considered opinionBreaking nuclear deal could bring hacking onslaught from Iran

    By Eric Geller

    If the Trump administration discarded the nuclear deal with Iran, Tehran could retaliate quickly – and inflict considerable damage – by unleashing its increasingly aggressive Iranian hacker army. Cyber-experts who track Tehran’s hackers warn that the attacks might target U.S. power plants, hospitals, airports, and other components of the country’s critical infrastructure. Iran’s current hacking against Western targets is limited almost entirely to commercial espionage and dissident surveillance, but Teheran could quickly redirect its efforts in the event of a rupture of the nuclear pact.

  • CyberwarWorld heading toward “permanent cyber war”: France’s cyber chief

    The world is heading towards a “permanent war” in cyberspace, Guillaume Poupard, director general of the National Cybersecurity Agency of France (ANSSI), has warned. Poupard said cyberattacks of growing frequency and intensity were coming from states which he did not name, as well as criminal and extremist groups. “We must work collectively, not just with two or three Western countries, but on a global scale,” he added, saying attacks could aim at espionage, fraud, sabotage, or destruction.

  • The Russian connectionPutin: “Patriotic,” “private” Russian hackers may have interfered in 2016 U.S. election

    In a surprising shift, President Vladimir Putin for the first time admitted publicly that Russian hackers may have meddled in the 2016 U.S. elections. He said, however, that the hackers were not Russian government employees but rather “patriotically minded” private Russians. The U.S. intelligence community, and Western intelligence services more generally, have collected voluminous, and incontrovertible, evidence, based on both signal and human intelligence, that hackers and disinformation specialists working for the GRU and the FSB – Russia’s military and domestic intelligence services, respectively – have launched a broad disinformation and hacking campaign last year in order to influence the 2016 presidential election. The Russian leader seemed aware of the possibility that more information about the Russian government’ role in the hacking and disinformation campaign may be revealed, and was trying to get ahead of such disclosures by saying that digital technology can be manipulated.

  • CyberattacksCyber attacks ten years on: from disruption to disinformation

    By Tom Sear

    Today – 27 April — marks the tenth anniversary of the world’s first major coordinated “cyberattack” on a nation’s internet infrastructure: Russian government hackers attacked the computer systems of the government of Estonia in retaliation for what Russia considered to be an insult to the sacrifices of the Red Army during the Second World War. This little-known event set the scene for the onrush of cyber espionage, fake news, and information wars we know today. A cybersecurity expert recently told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that to understand current Russian active measures and influence campaigns — that is, to understand cyber operations in the twenty-first century – we must first understand intelligence operations in the twentieth century. Understanding the history of cyber operations will be critical for developing strategies to combat them. Narrowly applying models from military history and tactics will offer only specific gains in an emerging ecosystem of “information age strategies.” If nations wish to defend themselves, they will need to understand culture as much as coding.

  • Cyber warfareGame theory insights could improve cyberwarfare strategy

    Whether a nation should retaliate against a cyberattack is a complicated decision, and a new framework guided by game theory could help policymakers determine the best strategy. A new study examines when a victim should tolerate a cyberattack, when a victim should respond — and how. The researchers use historical examples to illustrate how the Blame Game applies to cases of cyber or traditional conflict involving the United States, Russia, China, Japan, North Korea, Estonia, Israel, Iran, and Syria.

  • CybersecurityGCHQ Cyber Accelerator selects first cyber security start-ups

    Seven start-ups, focusing on online security issues and threats, will join the new GCHQ Cyber Accelerator, powered by Wayra UK. The accelerator will be part of a government-funded cyber innovation center aiming to help keep the United Kingdom secure online. Each start-up will receive benefits including access to technological and security expertise, networks, office space, and mentoring. The accelerator aims to help the United Kingdom take the lead in producing the next generation of cybersecurity systems, boosting the country’s tech sector.

  • CybersecurityCybersecurity’s next phase: Cyber-deterrence

    By Dorothy Denning

    From 2005 to 2015, federal agencies reported a 1,300 percent jump in cybersecurity incidents. Clearly, we need better ways of addressing this broad category of threats. Some of us in the cybersecurity field are asking whether cyber deterrence might help. Cyberspace will never be immune to attack – no more than our streets will be immune to crime. But with stronger cybersecurity, increased use of active cyber defenses, and international cyber norms, we can hope to at least keep a lid on the problem.

  • CybersecurityShould NSA and cyber command have separate leadership?

    By Stuart Madnick

    The National Security Agency is the nation’s digital spying organization. U.S. Cyber Command is a military unit focused on cyberwarfare. Does it make sense for one person to lead them both at the same time? I believe that the NSA and Cyber Command should be under separate leadership, so each can pursue its mission with undivided focus and complete intensity. The NSA can gather intelligence. Cyber Command can defend our military networks and be ready to attack the systems of our enemies.

  • Russian hackingHackers “poking around” U.S. voter registration sites in more than a dozen states: Comey

    James Comey, the FBI director, said his agency has discovered more attempts to hack voter registration sites in more than a dozen states according to two law enforcement officials. The FBI, and investigators working for other law enforcement agencies, say indications are the hackers belong to two cyber units working for the Russian government.