As Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies rise to record levels ahead of the direct offering of crypto exchange Coinbase, former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell is pushing back against conventional wisdom that says Bitcoin is ripe for illicit activity.  In a report sponsored by the Crypto Council for Innovation (a lobbying ...

Paul Kolbe, Director, Intelligence Project, Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs Paul Kolbe is Director of The Intelligence Project at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He previously served 25 years as an operations officer in the CIA and was a member of the ...

EXPERT ANALYSIS -- At a time when western officials are focusing their attention toward national security threats posed by China, the war in Yemen is entering its seventh devastating year. Billions have been poured into the country in efforts to stem a humanitarian crisis that shows no signs of stabilizing. ...

Cipher Brief Expert Alex Cresswell led an operational division of GCHQ and served in the Cabinet Office, directing the team of analysts (the Joint Intelligence Organisation) which provides the British Prime Minister’s daily briefing and strategic assessments for the NSC.  EXPERT PERSPECTIVE – On 17 February 2021, the DOJ and the FBI finally ...

Nick Fishwick,Former Senior Member, British Foreign Office Nick Fishwick CMG retired in 2012 after nearly thirty years in the British Foreign Service which included postings in Lagos, Istanbul and Kabul. He served in London as director of security and, after returning from Afghanistan in 2007, as director for counterterrorism. His ...

Join us this week Tuesday - Thursday for The Cipher Brief's Cybersecurity Summit featuring leaders from the public and private sectors, including Microsoft President Brad Smith, FireEye CEO Kevin Mandia, and 28 other cyber security thought leaders, including today's author, Andrew Stewart.  Attendance is free and registration is required. Executing Commander’s Intent at Machine Speed for Cyber ...

Tim Willasey-Wilsey, Cipher Brief Expert Tim Willasey-Wilsey is a Cipher Brief Expert on Afghanistan and a visiting Professor of War Studies at King’s College, London and a former senior British diplomat. The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not represent those of any institution. EXPERT PERSPECTIVE -- ...

Temperatures in Russia are increasing at more than double the global average, according to scientists, proving that climate change and extreme weather doesn’t just affect U.S. national security as outlined in Cipher Brief Expert Admiral Jim Stavridis’ overview here.  It also affects U.S. allies and adversaries, creating new areas of ...

Eric Washabaugh, Former CIA Targeting & Technology Manager Eric Washabaugh served as a targeting and technology manager at the CIA, where he served from 2006 - 2019, leading multiple inter-agency and multi-disciplinary targeting teams focused on al-Qa’ida, ISIS, and al-Shabaab at CIA’s Counterterrorism Center (CTC). He is currently the Vice ...

Kristin Wood, Sr. Climate Editor, The Cipher Brief Kristin Wood is the Senior Climate Editor for The Cipher Brief, a Cipher Brief expert, a non-resident fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs’ Intelligence Project, and a former senior CIA officer with 20 years of ...

The new COVID-19 national security world is one shaped by a host of national and global security issues that were impacted – both good and bad – by the global pandemic. That, in turn, has fundamentally changed the way governments and private sector companies need to think about the old ...

Javed Ali, Policymaker in Residence, University of Michigan Javed Ali is a Towsley Policymaker in Residence at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and had over 20 years professional experience in Washington, DC on national security issues, to include senior roles at the Federal Bureau ...

CLIMATE -- One of President Biden’s first areas of focus after taking office on Wednesday was on the climate, reinstating a commitment that the US will rejoin the Paris climate accord. The Biden Administration is also pledging a review of more than 100 other climate or environment-related regulations and the ...

The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, better known as INR, is charged with providing intelligence products in support of U.S. diplomatic efforts around the world. Established in 1947 by then-Secretary of State George Marshall, the bureau came out of the Office of Strategic Services Research Department that was ...

Here's our take on the failed efforts of a pro-Trump mob to stop Congress from certifying ballots at the Capitol on Wednesday as Congress, led by Vice President Mike Pence, confirmed Biden’s presidential victory. It's now reported that four people died during yesterday's events, though details of how they died ...

As Washington continues to investigate the true depth of what experts are describing as one of the most damaging cyberattacks in U.S. history, both government and private sector leaders are considering not only the aftermath, but the shifting dynamics of global espionage. The hack was first publicly reported by FireEye ...

Carmen Medina is a former CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence. A 32-year veteran of the Intelligence Community, she is also the author of Rebels at Work: A Handbook for Leading Change from Within. OPINION -- I was asked recently whether the Intelligence Community, and CIA specifically, would be able to go ...

It’s no secret that Taiwanese factories produce much of the world’s computer chip and semi-conductor supplies used in a variety of products from smartphones to medical equipment. That alone may not seem cause for concern, but when you layer in an increasingly hostile geopolitical environment, a better picture of national ...

Among his first priorities, President-Elect Joe Biden is announcing a coronavirus task force and is expected to start work on an economic recovery plan this week as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in the US.  From a national security perspective, there are a number of other complicated global dynamics that ...

ENERGY -- 2020 has taken a toll on the world’s energy market, but just how bad is it?  Experts say COVID-19, economic shutdowns and a disastrous oil price war this Spring have left the industry in a position to survive but warn that it will be different. The Cipher Brief ...

The Louisiana National Guard was recently tasked with stopping a string of cyberattacks aimed at infecting state government offices with malware that deploys ransomware, according to a Reuters report, citing two anonymous sources, prompting concerns over election interference. “Experts investigating the Louisiana incidents found a tool used by the hackers ...

Thousands of people are virtually gathering this week as the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) kicks off its annual conference focused on the future mission. The pandemic has forced the event to go all-virtual for the first time this year and presenters are expected to discuss a number ...

We’ve all learned a lot this year.  The onset of the global pandemic sent many of us scrambling to find new ways to do things that would allow for social distancing.  For businesses, that meant employees working from home.  But the cyber world wasn’t necessarily ready for the shift, as ...

Understanding expert perspective on where the US stands in the world with regards to national security is a key component of how The Cipher Brief keeps the security community connected.  Michael Morell and Cipher Brief Expert Mike Vickers  recently sat down to talk with each other about the challenges facing ...

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 ...

(The Cipher Brief 2020 Threat Conference will host an interactive session on this topic during The Cipher Brief Threat Conference September 13-15. Find details in the conference agenda.) Western governments have accused the Russian Federation of attempting, abetting, and orchestrating the assassinations of political enemies since the mid-1990s, the most ...

Eric Shiraev, Political Psychologist, George Mason University Dr. Eric Shiraev is a political psychologist from George Mason University, USA, where he heads a lab on reputational politics. He is author of more than twenty books including International Relations (Oxford), Russian Government and Politics (Macmillan), and Character Assassination Throughout the Ages. Dr. Holger ...

The US State Department recently named career diplomat James DeHart as the US’ first coordinator for the Arctic region.  DeHart’s job is to coordinate US efforts in the region, which includes “repelling China’s advances and capitalizing on commercial opportunities,” according to the Wall Street Journal.  What exactly are China’s ambitions ...

The discovery of large gas deposits has refueled decades-old territorial disputes in the Mediterranean.  In late July, Turkey announced it was dispatching a survey ship near a contested area around the Greek island of Kastellorizo, known as Meis in Turkey.  The announcement caused an international stir when both NATO allies ...

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, ...

Bottom Line: Russia is accused of funding Taliban contract killings of US troops in Afghanistan. US military officials made limited accusations of Russian arms support for the Taliban in 2018, a turnaround from the heyday of US-Russian cooperation in Afghanistan 2009-2014. Recent reporting by The New York Times that intelligence ...

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 ...

In part one of Iran and Hezbollah’s Pre-Operational Modus Operandi in the West, authors Mitch Silber and Ioan Pop pulled from court documents and open source reporting to shed light on ways that Iran and its proxy groups have engaged in regional escalations after the killing of Iranian General Qassem ...

Cipher Brief Expert Mitch Silber and Ioan Pop have pulled from court documents and open source reporting to compile a modus operandi of Iran and Hezbollah and their efforts to attack the west. Mitchell D. Silber, Former Director of Intelligence, NYPD In January 2020, Mitchell D. Silber was named the ...

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 ...

Innovation is a key component of readiness when it comes to future threats. NATO’s Innovation Hub recently commissioned a short story from author August Cole, asking him to draw upon his writing and imaginative abilities to create a picture of what NATO operations could be like in the year 2040. ...

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  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 ...

NATO, like many of the nations it represents, was caught off guard by the coronavirus pandemic. Concerned about a potential second wave of coronavirus infections, sources told Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine that leaders are working on a new plan to make sure they aren’t caught off guard a second time. ...

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 ...

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 ...