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 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  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 provide expert insight on ...

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 ...

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 The probability is that United States and British troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan irrespective of Taliban non-compliance with the terms of the Doha agreement of 29th.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 ...

The Cipher Brief’s Open Source Trendline Report utilizes open source data 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 developing and provide expert ...

CONVERSATION STARTER -- Few would argue that the January 3 drone strike that killed Iranian General and Quds Force Commander General Qassem Soleimani was a bold move.  The overt nature by which the strike was carried out seemed to offer a clear sign that the US is ready to openly ...

As the U.S. continues to announce new sanctions aimed at Iran, there are some signs that indicate the U.S. policy of applying maximum pressure on Iran is working.  Or is it?    Tehran released Princeton University scholar Xiyue Wang this month after holding him for more than three years as ...

The Gray Zone is that place between war and peace where actors use a range of elements at their disposal to effect outcome.  We see it in everyday operations like disinformation and election interference or in using economic means to coerce an outcome.  China and Russia have been big fans ...

Nine American women and children were killed by suspected drug cartel members in an attack in northern Mexico earlier this month, refocusing attention on the country’s long-standing drug and corruption issues. While hundreds of Mexicans die each year as the result of drug violence, this particular attack gained enormous attention ...

The Cipher Brief’s NEW Open Source Collection Report (OSINT) uses open source data 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 developing and ...

It was a busy weekend of activity for Iran, much of it rooted in its desire to seek ways around U.S. sanctions that are targeting its ability to sell oil around the world.  Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was the Biarritz surprise over the weekend as Group of Seven (G7) ...

India believes it won the hostilities which followed the Pulwama attack in February 2019. According to New Delhi the attack on Balakot not only punished Pakistan for hosting terrorists on its soil but it set a new baseline for how to deal with future such events. Pakistan (which feels it ...

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 ...

The number of monthly apprehensions based on illegal border crossings hovers north of 90,000 people.   According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), more than 53,000 of the people who crossed in March were what part of ‘family units’, which represents an all-time high according to CBP.  The Cipher ...

(Ed note: Follow co-author Dr. Catherine Lotrionte's sessions at RSA this week: Nation States Behaving Badly: The Evolving Rules of the Game in Cyberspace March 6, 8:00am and Engaging Internationally in Support of Cybersecurity for Critical Functions, March 6, 9:20am.) One of the fundamental issues for geopolitical leaders is to ...

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 ...

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 ...

2018 was a year dominated by a new range of worries for national security experts in Britain.  Brexit and a series of untraditional statements from U.S. President Donald Trump, kept things interesting, to say the least.  This, in addition to the traditional security issues that keep the British up at ...

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 ...

Bottom line: Terrorists are turning to the dark web’s crypto-bazaars, social media channels and e-commerce sites to buy more coveted military equipment than the usual rocket launchers and AK-47s in the traditional black market. These digital black markets are also allowing terrorist organizations from Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, as ...

This brief is part of The Cipher Brief’s 2018 Annual Threat Report.   Bottom Line: There are three prominent technological security concerns for the United States with a growing Chinese strategic competitor to the east: Beijing’s push toward cyber and electronic warfare, its development of counter-space capabilities that threaten U.S. space ...

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan recently returned from China without the concrete funding assurances that he was seeking in order to keep his country from having to request a second bailout from the International Monetary Fund. Pakistan has repeatedly turned to China and Saudi Arabia for financial assistance, while the ...

As tensions heat up between Russia and the West, cold-war skills are back in play.   Norway and Iceland are hosting more than 50,000 troops from 29 NATO countries involved in an intense training scenario across Northern Europe, dubbed Exercise Trident Juncture, with the first phase wrapping up mid-week. The military ...

Last spring, two weeks after the Trump Administration withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - the international arms control deal that curbed Tehran's nuclear program - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a new approach to Iran that, he vowed, included history's most ‘draconian’ sanctions. This renewed ...

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday to discuss the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).  The meeting follows a statement by U.S. President Donald Trump over the weekend, saying that the U.S. would pull out ...

Twitter is releasing a trove of known accounts and posts that it says were used to meddle in U.S. elections dating back to 2016.  According to the company, the data includes more than 4,600 accounts and more than 10 million tweets, photos, GIFs and broadcasts linked to Russia and Iran.  ...

As details about the disappearance of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi are revealed, its worth looking back at the deeper roots of the U.S. - Saudi relationship.   First printed in The Cipher Brief back in March, Abdulateef Al-Mulhim, a retired Commodore of the Royal Saudi Navy who now writes as a political ...

Indonesia was hit by a series of deadly bombings this past May.  The attacks targeted churches and were carried out by families with young children, including a family of six in Surbaya, Indonesia’s second largest city.   Indonesian police say an attack at police headquarters the following morning was carried out ...

Pakistan sits at a critical crossroads of U.S. Counterterrorism efforts, and geo-political strategy with China. Pakistan has elected a former cricket player, Imran Khan, as it’s newest Prime Minister.  Pakistan’s new Leader could prove to be a spoiler in US/Afghanistan relations, as he’s previously expressed support for the Taliban, criticized ...

President Donald Trump announced Monday that he would meet Iran’s leaders “anytime they want.” The President adding that he would meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani without preconditions, and after high-profile meetings with North Korean President Kim Jung Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin, reiterating that he believes meeting with adversaries ...

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments on Sunday about Iran and its leadership ignited a war of words between the U.S. and Iran with President Trump weighing in via Twitter, warning Iran not to threaten the U.S., but how far-reaching will the impact of their words be? Pompeo accused Iran’s ...

The Trump Administration is increasing pressure on Iran since withdrawing from the JCPOA in May.  Last month, the U.S. began pressuring other countries to halt imports of  Iranian oil.  The Cipher Brief revisits the complicated relationship between Iran and Russia, on the heels of the Helsinki summit. Bottom Line: Russia ...

UPDATED: As U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin emerge from their summit meeting in Helsinki, Finland, in which no aides were allowed in the meeting, The Cipher Brief takes an analytical look at the U.S. - Russian relationship under Putin.  Cipher Brief Expert Rob Dannenberg breaks down what we have ...

For decades, former secretary of state and White House chief of staff James Baker has touted his version of a salty military catchphrase as a good-government mantra: “Prior preparation prevents poor performance.” That doesn’t necessarily apply to intelligence; even exquisite inputs from the CIA and other spy agencies cannot guarantee that ...

German prosecutors have charged an Iranian diplomat with conspiracy to murder after counterterrorism officials say they averted a planned terrorist attack near Paris last month.    Prosecutors say the 46-year-old Vienna-based diplomat is part of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The plot is described as bold and far-reaching.  Cipher ...

Background:  The Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) is responsible for all of NATO’s military operations.  The senior role has traditionally been held by an American, who usually serves a dual-hatted role as SACEUR as well as Commander of U.S. European Command.  The Command structure also includes a Supreme Allied Commander, ...

The OPEC conference in Vienna ended on June 22 with a Saudi-engineered defeat of Iran’s efforts to oppose any production hike.  Masked in vague language, the new OPEC agreement will put at least an additional 600,000 barrels per day (bpd), and possibly as much as one million bpd, on the ...

As details are released about the upcoming summit between the U.S. and Russia, Intelligence Officers are expected to ramp up collection efforts in order to prep the field ahead of talks. “Whenever you’ve got a summit coming up, your intelligence community, and your opponent’s kicks into high gear,” says Cipher ...

President Trump on Monday called for the creation of a new Space Force to be designated as an independent, sixth branch of the U.S. military.  Just a few months ago, The Cipher Brief polled our experts with deep knowledge of the issue.  Former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James was ...

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Monday that military action in Yemen will fail.  The warning comes as a Saudi-led coalition targeted Houthi rebels aligned with Iran, according to Reuters.  Still don’t understand the strategic significance of what’s happening in Hodeida?  Consider that the city has long served as a hotbed ...

Update: June 18, 2018 - Despite an incredibly rare ceasefire between the Afghan Government and the Taliban in observance of Eid al-Fitr, two deadly suicide bombings rocked Jalalabad over the weekend.   Officials said the latest attack in eastern Nangarhar Province killed at least 18 people and wounded as many as ...

Pro-government forces backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have launched an assault on rebels holding Yemen's port city of Hodeidah.  Potential humanitarian casualties are high, since the port serves as one of the only avenues for foreign aid to move into the country, where Yemenis are already facing dire ...