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 ...

As protesters filled the streets of Hong Kong calling for democratic rights, agents of influence were operating behind the scenes to affect the way the protests are perceived by different audiences. In Hong Kong, the images reflect a demonstration movement, but in China, the images are tailored to a narrative ...

This Cyber Viewpoint comes from James Van de Velde, Associate Professor at the National Intelligence University as well as Adjunct Faculty at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown University. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy position of the U.S. ...

The Department of Defense is seeking a significant budget increase for further development of lethal autonomous weapons programs (LAWS).  While technology and the use of weapons technology is advancing rapidly, policy makers are grappling with the questions of just which decisions machines should be making on their own.  Should an autonomous ...

Predicting the future of Cloud computing is a bit like predicting the weather:  there are certain knowns that you can set a clock by, but there are unknowns about the environment, and how conditions can collide as the volume of information placed in the Cloud increases. A Gartner survey conducted ...

Bottom Line: The dark web has long been a place where stolen personal data is bought and sold in staggering numbers, criminals run lucrative drug and pornographic businesses and terrorists have found relatively safe territory from which to organize and communicate.  But the future of the dark web may look ...

(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 ...

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 ...

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: 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 ...

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness month in the U.S., an initiative started 15 years ago as a collaborative effort between the Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance in hopes of raising awareness about the growing cyber threat. As part of The Cipher Brief’s cyber coverage this ...

With the last few years of progress in artificial intelligence, it is hard to look forward without excitement…and apprehension. If you are paying attention at all, you are wondering what lies ahead. Will it be great? Will it be disastrous for many? Surely because we are inventing it, we have ...

This article has been updated to include comments from Cipher Brief experts. On Monday, the U.S. and UK jointly blamed Moscow for cyber intrusions into the backbone of the internet – the routers and switches that are the gateway for internet access in major corporations and your home office. “Since ...

The United States is in the midst of the most resounding policy shift on cyber conflict, one with profound implications for national security and the future of the internet. The just-released U.S. Cyber Command “vision” accurately diagnoses the current state of cyber conflict and outlines an appropriate new operational model ...

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 ...

Jason Healey recently posted an interesting piece on The Cipher Brief, US Cyber Command: “When faced with a bully…hit him harder.” Healey writes: “Cyber Command’s new strategy demands that, ‘We must not cede cyberspace superiority.’ The goal is ‘superiority’ through ‘persistent, integrated operations [to] demonstrate our resolve” even at “below the ...

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 ...

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: Cyber vigilantes and “hacktivists” increasingly fill the void left by governments in combating terrorist activity online. While such politically motivated non-state hackers are relatively effective at removing the presence of terrorist content, their continued operations could damage overall counterterrorism efforts by undermining intelligence operations –  say by taking ...

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 ...

Bottom Line: U.S. cyber defenders know how to take down botnets – networks of computers that have been hacked to act as one – but not how to keep them from coming back, nor necessarily how to determine who is behind them and hold them accountable. These networks under the ...

For this last week of 2017, we asked our experts to look ahead at key national security issues. NSA veteran Rick Ledgett offers some cybersecurity lessons learned, and a warning of what's to come. On Iranian and North Korean cyber activity: Those two actors are very different in their motivations and ...

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 on Thursday to dismantle their authorities to enforce net neutrality rules that prohibit internet service providers, such as Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast, from interfering in the traffic streams that take place over their infrastructure. The reversal of the FCC’s 2015 decision means the ...

The introduction of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) permanently altered the modern battlefield. New technological advances in drone technology could do it again: from advanced materials that allow drones to fly, roll, run or swim in less forgiving environments, to thinking software than makes them more independent, to stealth technology ...

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 ...

Terrorist groups are expanding their use of the internet beyond mere messaging and disseminating operational know-how, slowly adding a cyber-hacking toolset that could one day rival that of criminal or state-sponsored hacking. To date attacks have included website defacement, doxing of personally identifiable information, and distributed denial of service (DDoS) ...

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 ...

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 ...

The numbers are staggering, yet only the tip of the iceberg. More than 145 million American citizens are affected by the Equifax data breach disclosed last month; that’s more than half of the American adult population. At the same time, this is only the latest in a series of cyber ...

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 field of quantum physics, a century-old science, which found that particles have unique and unexpected properties at the smallest scale, is now at the cutting edge of research into revolutionary new technologies that could dramatically impact U.S. defense and national security. From gravitational sensors that can detect submarines underwater ...

Quantum computing and other technologies, which seek to exploit the bizarre behaviors of particles at the microscopic quantum level, have the potential to revolutionize computing, sensor systems, and a wide array of other information systems. As this theoretical field nears practical implementation, The Cipher Brief’s Fritz Lodge asked Dr. Brad ...

Imagine a sensor that could instantly detect nuclear submarines deep underwater, a supercomputer that can break the strongest encryption in the blink of an eye, or a worldwide satellite network of theoretically unbreakable communications. These are just a few of the capabilities promised by quantum physics, a century-old science, which ...

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 ...