Last week, the Justice Department brought an indictment against two individuals accused of working with China’s Ministry of State Security to conduct a decade-long cyber intrusion campaign. The Justice Department says the two individuals were targeting the private sector some of which included research institutions working on coronavirus treatments.  But ...

Counterintelligence in a Time of Crisis Mark Kelton is a former senior Central Intelligence Agency executive who retired in 2015 with 34 years of experience in intelligence operations. Before retiring, he served as CIA’s Deputy Director for Counterintelligence.  “All my little duckies, swimming on the pond…heads deep in the water, ...

The Growing Irrelevance of Organizational Structure for U.S. Domestic Terrorism Bruce Hoffman, Terrorism Expert, Professor, Georgetown University Bruce Hoffman is a professor at Georgetown University and the Shelby Cullom and Kathryn W. Davis Visiting Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security at the Council on Foreign Relations. He has served ...

An attempted cyberattack on Israel’s water system in late April, just months after the global pandemic hit, prompted fears that cyber adversaries are getting even more bold in their efforts to cause harm. Israel’s national cyber chief, Yigal Unna, officially acknowledged the plot, calling it a ‘synchronized and organized attack’ ...

OPINION -- “Black swans” are events that arrive as unwelcome surprises and have significant effects on nations and societies.  They can upend the status quo in politics, economics, or national security. Black swans are even more dangerous when superimposed on other black swans. It’s always worth trying to anticipate potential ...

China is on a multi-year mission to reduce its reliance on foreign technology and as a result, Beijing is investing heavily in its own technological developments. Premier Li Keqiang announced the Made in China 2025 (MIC 2025) initiative in 2015 as a bid to significantly advance the country’s economy and ...

(Editor’s Note:  Understanding the life of a spy is often difficult, especially understanding the experiences of those who spend much of their careers working undercover. In this rare commencement address delivered to the Valley Forge graduating class of 2020, Former CIA Deputy Director for Counterintelligence Mark Kelton shares fascinating insight ...

Global markets responded on Monday to fears of a second-wave of coronavirus infections and one of the industries feeling the pressure is the gas and oil market.  This comes as Reuters cites multiple sources saying that Saudi Aramco is cutting July crude supplies to at least five buyers in Asia. ...

CIPHER BRIEF EXPERT VIEW -- Mark Kelton is a retired senior Central Intelligence Agency executive who retired in 2015 with 34 years of experience in intelligence operations. Before retiring, he served as CIA's Deputy Director for Counterintelligence.  He is the Senior Vice President for National Security Solution at DynCorp International; and ...

A whirlwind of actions and statements regarding Hong Kong over the past week has increased tensions between the US and China.  Even before Beijing passed legislation last week to move in the direction of imposing new national security restrictions on Hong Kong, the US was contemplating a bold response.   It's ...

We know that corporate boards can no longer afford to leave cyber to the IT team. In the future, (which is now) they need to be actively engaged in cybersecurity and they need to know how to do it from a strategic level. Particularly in a time when many companies ...

The Cipher Brief is honored to share the latest report from our friends at Business Executives for National Security (BENS) on Talent Management: A Strategy for Great Power Competition.   BENS is a nonpartisan group of private sector professionals who work to help identify best practices and help find solutions ...

The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has added a significant layer of uncertainty to an already complicated situation in the Middle East.  The Cipher Brief turned recently to our expert Norm Roule to put this in perspective for us. Roule served for 34 years in the Central Intelligence Agency, managing ...

The Cipher Brief’s Open Source Trend Line Report utilizes open source data on a quarterly basis to track trends around the world that impact national and global security.  We break the world down by region and provide you with a recent timeline to help understand the pace at which events were developing and ...

The Cipher Brief’s Open Source Trend Line Report utilizes open source data on a quarterly basis to track trends around the world that impact national and global security.  We break the world down by region and provide you with a recent timeline to help understand the pace at which events were developing and ...

Cipher Brief Expert Carmen Medina is a former CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence and a 32-year veteran of the Intelligence Community.  Medina is also author of the book, Rebels at Work: A Handbook for Leading Change from Within. Thinking in the Time of Coronavirus - Part One  discussed three important thinking ...

Cipher Brief Expert Carmen Medina is a former CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence and a 32-year veteran of the Intelligence Community.  Medina is also author of the book, Rebels at Work: A Handbook for Leading Change from Within. I’ve been wanting to comment on all the examples of bad thinking ...

Things weren't great between the US and China even before COVID-19. Bloomberg is now citing three anonymous US officials as saying that the US Intelligence Community has come to the classified conclusion that China intentionally concealed the full extent of the coronavirus outbreak by under-reporting the total number of cases ...

Tim Willasey-Wilsey is a former senior British diplomat and now a Senior Visiting Fellow at King’s College London’s Department of War Studies. The probability is that United States and British troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan irrespective of Taliban non-compliance with the terms of the Doha agreement of 29th. February ...

Norman T. Roule served for 34-years in the Central Intelligence Agency, managing numerous programs relating to Iran and the Middle East.   He served as the National Intelligence Manager for Iran (NIM-I) at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence from November 2008 until September 2017.  As NIM-I, he was ...

The United States signed a peace agreement with Taliban leaders on Saturday that is intended to end the US’ 18-year involvement in Afghanistan. The deal agreed to in Doha, included the involvement of U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban Co-Founder and leader of the Taliban Political ...

Angela Lewis, Manager of Global Intelligence and Threat Analysis Team at The Walt Disney Company Angela Lewis is the Manager of the Global Intelligence and Threat Analysis Team at The Walt Disney Company. Prior to joining the private sector, Ms. Lewis served as a Senior Counterterrorism Targeting Officer in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, ...

The Cipher Brief’s Open Source Trendline Report utilizes open source data on a quarterly basis to track trends around the world that impact national and global security.  We break the world down by region and provide you with a recent timeline to help understand the pace at which events are ...

Thomas Donahue is a Cipher Brief expert and former Senior Director for Cyber Operations on the U.S. National Security Council Staff.  His article was originally published by National Defense University Press PRISM.  In case you missed it, you can read The Worst Possible Day: US Telecommunication and Huawei – Pt. 1 here  ...

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has long relied on a range of technological tools to provide geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) like commercial imaging, remote sensing and human geography to help warfighters, first responders, policymakers and spies navigate the world. Due to its unique mission and vantage point, NGA serves both as an ...

The Cipher Brief is running a special series on disinformation – in all of its forms – ahead of the 2020 U.S. Election.  This week, The Cipher Brief spoke with former CIA analyst and Intelligence Briefer Cindy Otis, about how foreign intelligence services use conspiracy theories to sow distrust and ...

When news broke recently that the U.S. had extracted a high-level Russian official in 2017 who had close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, it was noteworthy to say the least. The New York Times described the Russian asset’s role as important in helping U.S. officials trace the source of ...

When a series of drones were used to attack a key Saudi oil facility over the weekend, the impact on oil production was noted by global markets.  Oil prices spiked as the attack was believed to impact more than half of Saudi Arabia’s daily exports. Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility, ...

EDITORIAL/COMMENTARY -- The house had been watched for quite some time.  The home in Abbottabad was just about a mile from the Pakistani Military Academy and was significantly bigger than others in the area, surrounded by barbed wire fence and equipped with security gates. U.S. officials believed that the world’s ...

The Cipher Brief is running a special series on disinformation over the next several months.  We’ll introduce you to experts in the field who will share ways to identify disinformation efforts, help you critically think your way through what you see and share tips on what to do when you ...

With ongoing and often frustrating nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea and heightened tensions between nuclear neighbors India and Pakistan over Kashmir, having a clear picture of a nation's nuclear capabilities and how often they are testing them provides critical national security information. A fundamental building block of national ...

The resignation of both Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and his deputy Susan Gordon, both taking effect on August 15th, mean big changes are underway at the top of the U.S. Intelligence Community. Sources tell us that Gordon increasingly found herself between a rock and a hard place since ...

NSA Director General Paul Nakasone announced last week that he is creating a new cybersecurity directorate that will focus on – among other things – aligning the agency’s resources on both offense and defensive cyber operations. “What I’m trying to get to in a space like cybersecurity is speed, agility ...

New audio of the seizure of a British-flagged tanker indicates the vessel was too far away from help to avoid being forced to change course by Iranian Paramilitary forces last week.  In audio released on Sunday by a maritime security firm, a British officer unsuccessfully demanded freedom to sail through ...

Few today would argue that the threat surface in cyberspace has expanded significantly in the past decade.  Just ask your fridge.  From the new risks we’ve brought into our own kitchens, to the increased capabilities of nation states to disrupt everything from electricity to elections, there is an even greater ...

In part two of 'The Coming Chinese Storm', former Deputy Director for Counterintelligence at the CIA's National Clandestine Service, Mark Kelton, lays out the Chinese threat to both the public and private sectors in the U.S. "As General Michael Hayden has rightly said: “This is stealing American wealth.  It’s stealing ...

The Cipher Brief is engaging with dozens of Cipher Brief experts, government speakers and private industry executives this week on the national security challenges that are impacting the public and private sectors.  We will have special coverage of the 2019 Threat Conference and will be re-posting some of our most ...

When DHS was established shortly after 9/11, terrorism was the focus. But in the 16 years since the Agency’s creation, the threat landscape has changed dramatically and cyber now plays a leading role in overall threats. Four months ago, President Trump signed the Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency Act, ...

Last week, The Cipher Brief told you how and why the U.S. has been working to convince its allies to ban Chinese vendors from contributing to the development of 5G networks as well as offering some basics about what 5G actually is, and what we should be most focused on as ...

Fresh off the heels of the Munich security conference, a rift remains between the U.S. and its allies over their approach to 5G networks and managing the potential national security risks of allowing Chinese vendors to participate in the development of the technology.   The U.S. has been working to ...

Cipher Brief Expert Emile Nakhleh is a retired CIA Senior Intelligence Service Officer and founding director of the CIA’s Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program Office. Iran celebrates the fortieth anniversary of the Islamic Revolution during the first 10 “Days of Dawn” in February, beginning with February 1, the day Ayatollah ...

Innovation in Government isn’t generally a phrase that rolls off the tongue, but in a relatively unconstrained threat environment, innovation has become synonymous with survival. A few years ago, the world’s most secretive signals intelligence agency underwent a significant reorganization effort that combined elements of the Agency’s offensive and defensive ...

A recent poll conducted by a Russian polling group, suggests that domestic trust in Vladimir Putin is at its lowest level in more than a decade. Still, it’s important to remember that those numbers might not matter so much to Putin himself, since winning a landslide election last year - ...

French philosopher Voltaire claimed that "if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.” The Kremlin, whenever it wishes to free a convicted Russian spy, twists this concept a bit: “If there's no espionage case, it's necessary to invent one”.  The recent arrest of U.S. citizen Paul ...

OPINION -- On December 31, The New York Times published a piece that claimed Afghan forces “trained and equipped by CIA agents or contractors” were conducting “torture and killings with near impunity.” The piece opens with the description of one such raid where an alleged CIA-trained strike force burst into ...

Bottom Line Up Front:  The Trump Administration is confronting China on issues that have been developing for years and have percolated to the top of a list of concerns that are affecting bilateral relations.  The current 10% tariff on $250 billion of goods could escalate to 25% or higher if ...

Bottom Line Up Front: Six months after the historic June 11, 2018 Summit between President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jung Un, the American public is losing patience with a North Korea that continues to make nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems.  Many now doubt that North Korea will ever ...

At a recent private D.C. dinner, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen gathered with academics and cyber experts from the private sector to talk candidly about urgent cyber threats and actions that DHS is taking to address them. It was an intimate event, hosted by Atlantic Council President Fred Kempe and ...

Former President George H.W. Bush, who died last Friday, held among his most cherished roles in U.S. Government, the role of Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Bush served as Director for just one year, from January 1976 to January 1977.  He came into the Agency during a time of ...

According to a recent report by the National Defense Strategy Commission (NDS), the U.S. Department of Defense and the White House "have not yet articulated clear operational concepts for achieving U.S. security objectives in the face of ongoing competition and potential military confrontation with China and Russia." The NDS is ...