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: The U.S. and its NATO allies have warned that Russian submarine activity near undersea fiber optic cables means Moscow may be plotting to disrupt or intercept sensitive or other critical internet communications in the event of a confrontation with the West. Their warning serves as a plea to ...

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 ...

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 ...

China's state news agency Xinhua, has shown the world just how far China has come in the artificial intelligence race with the introduction of a digital news anchor. The digital anchor not only read the news at China's World Internet Conference last week, but it also demonstrated the capabilities of ...

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 the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, Susan M. Gordon serves as DNI Dan Coats’ number two, helping to manage an Intelligence Community (IC) that includes 17 different agencies and organizations, if you include the ODNI itself. The IC’s central mission is to provide the President with the most ...

The U.S. Administration released its new National Cyber Strategy on Thursday, covering a broad number of security-related issues that fall into four main categories, it refers to as ‘pillars’. The first pillar includes securing federal networks and information, securing critical infrastructure, fighting cybercrime and seeking improved incident reporting.  The second ...

The world’s malicious cyber actors -- Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea – have spoiled cyber’s original, idealistic vision and instead use cyberspace to advance competitive interests to undermine Western laws and norms and pursue a clandestine means (cyber theft) to catch up with the West in technology, political influence, ...

Bottom Line: In the past decade, Iran’s cyber capabilities have evolved from a tool used to lash out against domestic opponents of the Islamic Republic to a central pillar of its national strategy of holding adversaries at risk and gleaning crucial foreign intelligence. Despite a fall in disruptive Iranian cyberattacks ...

Few would argue that in a world of consistent, emerging cyber threats, the role of the Chief Information Security Officer is one that requires a special kind of calm as well as a steady stream of credible, timely information.  Some of the information that is used to build a strong ...

On the heels of the Helsinki summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, it bears revisiting some of the important, outstanding questions that remain about how President Trump might approach the financial sanctions imposed on Russia since its 2014 seizure of Crimea. Measures such as freezing ...

In part two of The Cipher Brief’s two-part series on how Russia is building its virtual battlefield, we look at the U.S response to the tools and tactics that the Kremlin is employing and ask whether it’s enough.  Response: The U.S. has responded to Russian activity in cyberspace through diplomatic ...

As the world focuses on the Singapore summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the President’s Treasury Secretary announced sanctions against five Russian entities and three individuals for their ties to Russian cyber activities, prompting some to question the Administration’s mixed signals on Russia over ...

Bottom Line:  The risk posed to U.S. national security by what are believed to be Russian-backed hacking groups, is similar to the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis according to Cipher Brief Experts, but different, in that the U.S. has no clear and obvious deterrent this time around. Recent Developments:  The ...

The Trump administration has accused Russia of a coordinated “multi-stage intrusion campaign” to hack into critical U.S. infrastructure networks and conduct “network reconnaissance” while attempting to delete evidence of their intrusions.  Homeland Security officials say they have helped the affected companies remove the Russian hackers from their compromised networks, but ...

Bottom Line: Conflict follows humanity wherever it goes, and the world’s population is increasingly living in cities. Waning are the days of the Maoist blueprint of rural insurgents pillaging small peripheral villages and seeking refuge in the hard terrain of mountainous caverns, dense forests or expansive deserts. Soon terrorist and ...

Bottom Line: In the digital age, determining the origins of cyberattacks is already difficult, but cyber actors can further muddy attribution by diverting blame for attacks to others. The intention is not necessarily to trick intelligence services – who are able to access information beyond technical forensics of the hack ...

Bottom Line: A spy’s tradecraft must constantly evolve because of the rapid changes of the digital age – especially the tools and skills required to maintain a legend, or cover identity. Virtual recordkeeping, modern surveillance technology and the vast amounts of a person’s background accessible on open-source platforms such as ...

Bottom Line: While President Donald Trump’s tweets at times unnerve America’s closest allies, especially those that attack U.S. intelligence and law enforcement, the “Five Eyes” network of the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand continues to share intelligence almost as one nation. The intelligence relationship arguably provides stability and ...

Bottom Line: Russia’s use of private military contractors in Syria lends the Kremlin deniability that becomes problematic when the U.S. tries to calculate how to retaliate against incursions again U.S. and coalition troops by the Assad regime. The problem reared its head earlier this month when the of U.S. conducted ...

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has released the indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for allegedly interfering in the 2016 presidential election. The indictment charges all of the defendants with conspiracy to defraud the United States, three defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and ...

Bottom Line: While North Korea has put on a friendly face during the Olympic Games taking place along its southern border, the country’s hackers continue to engage in global cybercrime campaigns that seek to fill the coffers of the ruling regime in the background – with the latest hacking campaign ...

Cipher Brief Cyber Advisory Board members offer their views on threats to the U.S. power grid, as interviewed by Cipher Brief Publisher and CEO Suzanne Kelly. Former Deputy Secretary of State Robert Work, a member of The Cipher Brief’s Cyber Advisory Board, says potential attacks on the U..S power grid ...

Bottom Line: Maturing under Tehran’s tutelage, Hezbollah’s hackers are quickly learning the art of cyber warfare. The formidable militant organization is increasingly turning its attention to the digital realm to engage in espionage, psychological operations, disruption of critical services and criminal activity to fund its activities on the ground. Background: ...

Bottom Line: China is aggressively pursuing capabilities such as anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons that could diminish the U.S. military’s reconnaissance, navigation and communications in case of war in the South China Sea or on the Korean Peninsula. But while China’s ASAT capabilities threaten U.S. assets in space, it’s still unclear how ...

Bottom Line: Since 2016, the North Korean regime has shown its hand as a state sponsor of cybercrime by targeting international financial institutions, engaging in broad ransomware campaigns, and illegally accruing and laundering cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. This pattern of behavior supports Pyongyang’s objective of self-financing the ruling Korean Worker’s ...

Cybersecurity researchers have discovered two major software vulnerabilities in the Intel microprocessors inside the vast majority of all computers. Dubbed “Meltdown” and “Spectre,” the vulnerabilities could allow hackers to siphon off the entire memory contents of computers, mobile phones and servers that run on cloud networks. Two Cipher Brief experts ...

Revealing the identities of intelligence officials – a practice known as doxing – could become more common among nation-states, directed in particular at the clandestine cyber-spies who operate overseas. Doing so undermines an unspoken norm of confidentiality among even adversarial intelligence services – where they allow each other to operate ...

Cyber-enabled information operations in the Gulf, such as the one that seemingly spurred the ongoing feud between Qatar and its neighbors, represent the gray line between open conflict and backchannel disagreements that have proven difficult to respond to, according to experts who spoke at an event Wednesday co-hosted by The ...

In one month, the authorities provided under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA) are due to expire unless reauthorized by Congress. Lawmakers are expected to renew FISA, but may put another expiration deadline on the bill, and also may add limitations on how the government is ...

For this year’s Thanksgiving Day feature, The Cipher Brief revisits its coverage of the Kremlin’s strategic use of blackmail to silence dissent at home and undermine opposition abroad. Known in Russian intelligence lexicon as kompromat, or compromising material, blackmail has long played the role of leveraging personal information for political ...

The UN’s Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) met last week to discuss lethal autonomous weapons systems. But while most member states called for a legally-binding process to ensure that some form of meaningful human control be maintained over these prospective weapons systems, there is a ...

The Cipher Brief Cyber Advisory Board’s Bob Gourley commented on the Trump administration’s new process for disclosing software vulnerabilities it has detected – the first time a U.S. administration has revealed its internal rules, aka the Vulnerability Equities Process. This is a significant improvement and clarification of the existing process ...

The intelligence community has been taking body blows lately – with Friday’s WikiLeaks dump of CIA hacking tools and a report in The New York Times discusses just how damaging the August 2016 Shadow Brokers thefts from NSA have turned out to be.  While there has been no acknowledgment by ...

While all militaries seek to lead enemies astray, Russia’s military doctrine of deception – known as maskirovka, Russian for “masking” or “camouflage” – is a foundational component of the Russian military and intelligence mindset. With maskirovka, the fog of war is not merely the natural byproduct of combat, but a ...

The key question as representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google testify Tuesday and Wednesday before Congress is not how Russia used social media to interfere in last year’s presidential election, but rather what role U.S. voters, the federal government and social media companies should play in building resiliency against such ...

Urban environments pose special challenges for counterinsurgency efforts as well as for complex operations against criminal gangs and drug trafficking operations. In Brazil, for example, the counter-crime operations have come to resemble counterinsurgency operations. Efforts to oust insurgents from urban spaces come with particularly complex difficulties. The most obvious challenge ...

As ISIS’s hold of its capital of Raqqa disintegrates, and the rubble of a razed Aleppo settles, a trend is beginning to emerge – war is becoming increasingly urbanized. Conflict follows humanity wherever it goes, and the world’s population is increasingly living in cities. Waning are the days of the ...

In October 2017 – as Iraqi forces mop up in Mosul, fighting rages round Raqqa and Deir Ezzour in Syria, the United States resumes bombing ISIS strongholds near the Libyan city of Sirte, and combat continues in Avdiivka, a frontline town near the city of Donetsk in Ukraine – it’s ...

The United States has long been the dominant designer, user, and seller of military drone technology. But China has quickly grown into a developer and competitive proliferator of its own in drone technology, which could have strategic implications for U.S. foreign policy in the South China Sea, and even around ...

Since the time of the first kinetic attack by an unmanned aircraft in October of 2001, the United States has relied heavily on drone technology for its relatively inexpensive loitering capabilities and the geographical reach it enables. Persistent surveillance and targeted drone strikes have become a central tenet of the ...

From the time of the first kinetic strike by an unmanned aircraft in October of 2001, the United States has relied heavily on remote-controlled drone technology for its relatively inexpensive loitering capabilities and the geographic reach it enables in the global war on terror. Over the years the U.S. has ...

U.S. companies got a disturbing preview of just how Russia might be able to steal their secrets, with news that Kaspersky Lab anti-virus software was allegedly used to hack an unsuspecting NSA contractor. Russian state-sponsored hackers reportedly stole critical details on how the U.S. conducts cyber espionage and defends against ...

How governments view powerful tools like the internet often determines how they treat them. In the West, governments have sought to let citizens freely and openly engage with cyberspace – for trade, culture, and civic discourse. Others, such as Russia and China, see the internet as a powerful tool to ...

It is a problem for the U.S. that many of the core concepts that guide internet policy date to the 1990s. One such concept is that the internet is a virtual alternative to the Westphalian state, without borders and where sovereignty does not apply. The problem with this concept is ...

The year was 1648. Europe had just negotiated the Peace of Westphalia, ending the 30 years of war that had ensnared the continent. The series of peace treaties that came out of the negotiations established the concept of sovereignty, a political order of co-existing states, establishing a norm against interference ...

In the nearly seven years since the U.S. Department of Defense declared cyberspace a “domain” of warfare – alongside land, air, sea, and space – the Pentagon has developed an overarching Cyber Strategy to guide their efforts in the new domain and raised a Cyber Command that has grown from ...

One of the opening rounds of an information war between the Kremlin and a democratic country came from Melvin Redick, a fake Facebook account designed to look like your average American – only he was believed to be the handiwork of Russian intelligence. “These guys show hidden truth about Hillary ...