• Guns, Drones and Poison: The New Age of Assassination

    We are living in the greatest-ever age of assassination as states, fearful of the twin threats of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, are using increasingly sophisticated intelligence to track and kill dangerous people and deprive other states of dangerous knowledge.

  • A Better Kind of Cybersecurity Strategy

    During the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics, held in PyeongChang, South Korea, Russian hackers launched a cyberattack that disrupted television and internet systems at the games. The incident was resolved quickly, but because Russia used North Korean IP addresses for the attack, the source of the disruption was unclear in the event’s immediate aftermath. There is a lesson in that attack, and others like it, at a time when hostilities between countries increasingly occur online. In contrast to conventional national security thinking, such skirmishes call for a new strategic outlook, according to one expert.

  • Russian Government Hackers Exploit Known Vulnerability in Virtual Workspaces

    The National Security Agency (NSA) released a Cybersecurity Advisory on Monday, detailing how Russian state-sponsored actors have been exploiting a vulnerability in VMware products to access protected data on affected systems.

  • Cause of Mystery Illness of U.S. Diplomats in U.S. Embassies in Cuba, China

    Government personnel and their families at the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba, in late 2016 and the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou, China, in early 2017 began suffering from a range of unusual — and in some cases suddenly occurring — symptoms such as a perceived loud noise, ear pain, intense head pressure or vibration, dizziness, visual problems, and cognitive difficulties, and many still continue to experience these or other health problems. A new scientific report says that directed, pulsed radio frequency energy appears to be the most plausible mechanism in explaining these cases, especially in individuals with the distinct early symptoms.

  • Brain Drain: China’s Campaign of Intellectual Property Theft

    Hundreds of scientists at British universities, who would be banned from almost all postgraduate study in the United States over their ties to military-linked Chinese universities, are currently researching subjects which involve knowledge useful to the creation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. A new reportexplores the number of individuals researching seven subjects considered particularly sensitive by the U.K.’s Academic Technology Approval Scheme.

  • A New White House Spokeswoman, An Old Photo, And A Message About Russian Propaganda

    Six years ago, Jen Psaki, who was the face of the U.S. State Department, was subjected to constant trolling on the Russian-language Internet, not to mention derision from the state-controlled satellite channel that used to be known as Russia Today. Psaki is to become the White House spokeswoman when Joe Biden is formally inaugurated as president on January 20, 2021. “For anyone who hasn’t been the target of Russian propaganda,” Psaki wrote in a tweet, “the purpose is to discredit powerful messengers and to spread misinformation to confuse the public. Anyone who repeats it is (unwitting or not) simply a puppet of the propaganda machine.”

  • Russian Influence Peddlers Carving Out New Audiences on Fringes

    After four years of warnings and preparations, the 2020 presidential election did not see a repeat of 2016, when intelligence officials concluded Russia meddled using a combination of cyberattacks and influence operations. But according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, as well as analysts, the good news ends there.

  • China-Sensitive Topics at US Universities Draw More Online Harassment

    Last week, students at Brandeis University hosted an online discussion about China’s controversial Xinjiang policies, hearing experts discuss the detention, abuse and political indoctrination of more than 1 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. But as Uighur attorney and advocate Rayhan Asat appeared before the student group last Friday, her screen was taken over as hackers wrote “fake news” and “liar” on it. Experts said it fits with an increase in more organized harassment against topics on American campuses seen as objectionable by the Chinese government.

  • The China Initiative: Year-in-Review

    On the two-year anniversary of the Department of Justice’s China Initiative, the Department said it continues its focus on the Initiative’s goals, and announced progress during the past year in disrupting and deterring the wide range of national security threats posed by the policies and practices of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) government.

  • Surveillance State: Why Zhenhua Data Is Researching Irish People for the Chinese Government

    An obscure Chinese company with close ties to the Chinese intelligence services was found to have collected detailed information on 963 influential Irish people. The Irish dataset is part of the company 2.4 million-strong database, consisting of influential people from practically every country in the world. Intelligence specialists say China’s goal is to identify potential weaknesses that could be exploited to advance China’s interests.

  • Russia’s “Neo-Imperialism” Is a Product of Complex Factors

    Since Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, there has been no shortage of commentaries, articles, papers and entire volumes by Western academics, think-tankers, former policy practitioners and journalists on how Russian President Vladimir Putin is rebuilding the Russian empire or how the Kremlin has never actually stopped building one. Still, there are some books on Russia’s external policies that I could not have missed, and Russian Imperialism Revisited by long-time Russia scholar Domitilla Sagramoso is one of them.

  • Election Security 2020: Why Did Things Go Right This Time?

    In the weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election, the U.S. government and technology companies took several steps to safeguard election security in cyberspace, focusing their efforts on disinformation and cyberattacks. Although there were a handful of incidents, none compromised the integrity of the election, and Election Day passed without any major disruption. Why did things go right this time? A combination of government and private sector action motivated by the lessons of the 2016 and 2018 elections. Still, as the vote count continues, disinformation remains a real threat.

  • Six Disinformation Threats in the Post-Election Period

    The problem of disinformation in the run-up to the 2020 election is well covered in the news media. Justin Hendrix writes that what hasn’t been as widely covered is the disinformation campaigns that will likely come right after Americans vote on 3 November.

  • Understanding, and Countering, Information Operations

    In recent years, a growing number of governments, non-state actors, and citizens have rapidly expanded their use of pernicious information operations against other countries and even their fellow citizens. Social media and the internet have become the main tool. The current technological revolution has lowered the cost of entry for those wishing to spread misinformation and disinformation.

  • U.S. Bracing for Attacks Before and After Election Day

    U.S. intelligence officials have already confirmed attacks on the election have been underway for some time, with Russia, China and Iran all waging operations designed to influence the way voters cast their ballots. And more recently, intelligence officials warned that Russia and Iran managed to acquire voter registration data while hacking into U.S. databases. In another significant difference from the 2016 and 2018 elections, intelligence and election security officials warn that, this time, the assault on the election will not end when the polls close. Instead, they say the attacks will persist, likely until at least the presidential inauguration on January 20, 2021.