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 ...

The Pentagon often wargames future scenarios for when 'all hell breaks loose' with the idea of training for the worst-case scenario.  Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made clear when he took the helm at the Pentagon earlier this year, that - consistent with President Joe Biden’s focus on climate change ...

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 ...

In the summer of 2016, then-Director of National Intelligence Lt. Gen. James Clapper began to detect a worrisome trend.  It was an election year, and he was starting to see an uptick in Russian activity around misinformation and disinformation that went well beyond the usual playbook.  Russia had been known ...

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 ...

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 ...

Even though national security did not play a significant role during the U.S. presidential campaign, President-elect Joe Biden is set to inherent a world in crisis when he takes the oath of office in January. Among the national security challenges facing the U.S. in 2021 are those posed by a ...

The Cipher Brief recently published an article by expert Tim Willasey-Wilsey asking “Why would China not invade Taiwan now with expert insights from a range of national security experts like General Martin Dempsey, Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.), Ambassador Joseph DeTrani and author and Global Policy Program Director at the Johns ...

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently hosted the AlphaDogfight Trials putting artificial intelligence technology from eight different organizations up against human pilots.  In the end, the winning AI, made by Heron Systems, faced off against a human F-16 pilot in a simulated dogfight with the AI system scoring ...

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 ...

"The U.S. intelligence community must invest in understanding its own business model to make data-driven decisions for the future," argue authors Katrina Mulligan, Cipher Brief Expert Matt Olsen and Alexandra Schmitt from the Center for American Progress. Katrina Mulligan, Managing Director, Center for American Progress Katrina Mulligan is the managing ...

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 ...

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 ...

Last week, a former Army Green Beret captain was indicted, accused of providing national defense information to Russia in what appeared to be a spying operation that began in 1996.  Prosecutors say Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins was recruited by members of Russia’s military intelligence agency (GRU).  Debbins went on to ...

The Intelligence Community’s job is to brief policymakers on what the US knows, in order to help them make better decisions.  There is a process for what the IC does and even though that process is often the first thing forgotten for the sake of a sexy political story, understanding ...

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 ...

As the community of Disinformation experts contemplates how to address the serious risk to national security that disinformation poses, experts are calling for better coordination, better communication and better educating the public as our best options for addressing the issue. Some are arguing for a centralized government office to better ...

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, ...

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called out China’s claims in the South China Sea this week, saying they are “completely unlawful.”   It was a distinctive public show of US support for a 2016 ruling by The Hague that found China’s actions in the South China Sea were in violation of ...

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 ...

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 ...

Farah Pandith, Former Special Representative to Muslim Communities, US Department of State Farah Pandith served as a political appointee under Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, and most recently she was the first-ever Special Representative to Muslim Communities, serving both Secretaries Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. ...

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 ...

The Cipher Brief recently hosted General Joseph Votel (Ret.) for a member’s briefing on lessons learned from SOF to Silicon Valley and how the US needs to pull together to be ready for the next crisis. General Votel joined Business Executives for National Security (BENS) as their CEO and president ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

This week, Russia test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile from its new nuclear submarine, as Facebook says Moscow is stepping up its efforts to spread disinformation in Africa.  That’s just this week.  Going back a few more days, U.S. and British officials say Russian hackers piggy-backed on an Iranian spy operation ...

President Trump announced this week that the U.S. had brokered a permanent ceasefire in northeast Syria as he also announced that he would be lifting sanctions that were imposed after Turkey launched a military offensive into Syria in early October. A day earlier, however, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia ...

China and South Korea quietly agreed this week to engage in a joint effort to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.  The announcement came on the sidelines of the Xiangshan Forum, a conference focused on Asia-Pacific security.  The two countries have resumed bilateral defense talks that were suspended in 2014, signaling a ...

The U.S. has issued new economic sanctions against seven individuals linked to a Russian internet troll factory.  The sanctions were announced Monday with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling them a warning to foreigners seeking to interfere in U.S. elections. The U.S. Government is bolstering its efforts to defend voting ...

The development of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies provides great potential to businesses that are able to harness the opportunities it presents, but AI also poses great risks to national security.  Within the pages of the 2019 Worldwide Threat Report, presented in January of this year by former Director of National ...

When someone decides to spy on their own country for the U.S., they know they’re taking a risk.  But when news broke recently that the U.S. had extracted a high-level Russian official in 2017 with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, it highlighted not only the value of human ...

In the 1979 film Mad Max, Mel Gibson played a police officer who navigated an apocalyptic world plagued by a scarcity of resources. Sixteen years later, in the movie Waterworld, Kevin Costner portrayed a man who had to find a way to survive after the polar ice cap had completely ...

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 ...

The director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs office says the city is experiencing its worst crisis since the colony returned to China from British rule in 1997 after weeks of protests prompted by legislation that protestors believe was eroding their freedoms. Thousands of protestors have been disrupting travel ...

This weekend’s back to back shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio highlight, in the deadliest way, growing concerns that the U.S. is fighting its own extremism problem. As authorities look into the motives in both attacks, we must act promptly to thwart future attacks.  Here’s how we can ...

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 ...

Tim Willasey-Wilsey is a former senior member of the British Foreign Office and a Cipher Brief expert. He is currently a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at Kings College London’s Department of War Studies. President Trump’s short walk inside North Korea on 30th June was great theatre; perfect for a politician ...

The Cipher Brief is taking a look this week at the national security situation along the southern border.  On Sunday, Congressman Will Hurd told NBC, “We need to make sure that countering human smuggling is a national intelligence priority so that we have CIA, the NSA, the FBI working with ...

The Cipher Brief is taking a look this week at the national security situation along the southern border. On NBC, the only Congressional Republican who represents a district along that border said on Sunday that officials aren’t focused enough on the issue of human smuggling.  Congressman Will Hurd said he ...

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif confirmed Monday that Tehran has violated the limits imposed on uranium enrichment that were a key part of the 2015 nuclear deal.  The U.S. withdrew its support for the deal last year.  The Trump Administration on Monday responded to the confirmation of increased uranium enrichment, ...

The significant weekend visit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un started with a Tweet last Thursday as President Trump was getting ready to depart the G20 conference in Osaka, Japan. “After some very important meetings, including my meeting with President Xi of China, I ...

U.S. businesses are being warned to harden their defenses in anticipation of potential cyberattacks as tensions between the U.S. and Iran continue to escalate.  President Donald Trump posted to Twitter on Tuesday that “Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force.  In some ...