Much of the discussion surrounding Russian cyber-enabled information operations against Western societies focuses on technology, such as bots amplifying messages on social media and the hacking of institutions of power to then leak emails with potentially salacious material. But in order to meet the level of success that Russian intelligence ...

While maritime accidents are bound to occur, the consistency and regional concentration of the U.S. Navy mishaps in the Asia-Pacific beg for explanation. Cyber vulnerabilities have long been acknowledged against commercial maritime vessels, but the targeting of new naval systems – whether for navigation, engine and steering control, or commanding ...

Recent fatal accidents involving two vessels in the U.S. Seventh Fleet led to a spate of speculation about whether somehow the navigation in these ships was compromised by a cyber intrusion. Global Positioning System (GPS) spoofing has been highlighted as a possible contributing factor. While investigations are still underway to ...

There has been a recent wave of high-sea collisions in the Asia-Pacific involving U.S. naval vessels – most notably the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain, which together have resulted in the loss of more U.S. military personnel then in Afghanistan so far this year. The incidents, both involving ...

Hunger and political instability go hand in hand. Fighting and droughts across Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, and parts of Nigeria have caused dire situations and have driven up food prices, placing over 20 million people under increased risk of food insecurity. Terrorist groups and criminals prey on such situations, exacerbating ...

This century will be defined by two trends: how we manage climate change and how we manage the rise of megacities. Over the next 20 years, the global urban population will grow from 3.5 to 5 billion people. The strain on resources and the environmental stresses that accompany the growth ...

The United States is confronted with security challenges on a daily basis, from unending terrorist attacks to adversaries positioning themselves on the geopolitical and global economic stages. But behind the curtain of all of these problems resides a potentially devastating, long-term issue that demands attention: global food insecurity as both ...

ISIS recruitment messaging online is a current threat and growing concern, and as the group continues to lose physical territory in Iraq and Syria, it is feared that they will seek to inspire individuals around the world to wage war on the West. To combat the anticipated increase in ISIS ...

ISIS propagates its ideology and promises of a jihadi utopia through slick social media campaigns, seeking to inspire a global audience to take up arms against its enemies and the societies they represent. Perhaps less visible has been ISIS’ operational use of digital communications as a command and control platform ...

No terrorist group has capitalized on networked technology more than ISIS, both for recruitment messaging and commanding their fighters on the ground. The internet is their response to asymmetric disadvantage. Where they lack in infrastructure and resources of a state, they use the web to plan attacks, solicit money and ...

Although cyberspace may have been declared the fifth domain of warfare by the U.S. Department of Defense, many wonder if the concepts of warfare applies to this domain. Is the domain somehow different from the others? Can states achieve new political outcomes by the clever use of cyberspace alone? Can ...

The past week has seen a flurry of news stories on “killer robots,” which wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory Terminator and Robocop images. Countries were supposed to meet this month at the United Nations to discuss lethal autonomous weapons (aka “killer robots”), but meetings have been delayed till November ...

The reality of modern times is that nations are in a constant state of cyber engagement – either for espionage, influence, or disruption purposes. While there is a tacit acknowledgement that cyber espionage for political and military purposes is is fair game, some actions such as the disruption of critical ...

It’s likely only a matter of time before a major cyber attack hits U.S. civilian infrastructure, but the nature of that digital violation and the means to respond remain uncertain, as many of the most sensitive systems operate under private sector control. There is a “narrow and fleeting window of ...

The taxonomy of cybersecurity often includes alarming declarations on par with acts of war. But cyber campaigns outside of active conflict hardly meet such a coercive threshold. While there are major concerns over the cybersecurity of the nation’s critical infrastructure – the power grid, water treatment plants, transportation hubs, energy ...

Just as criminals conduct business in the dark allies of cities, they also trade in illicit products such as drugs, guns, and counterfeit documents through online bazaars hidden behind anonymizing technology in a place known as the darknet. Last month, law enforcement agencies led by U.S. and Dutch authorities took ...

On July 20, 2017, U.S. and European law enforcement authorities announced they had jointly taken down two major darknet marketplace sites: AlphaBay and Hansa. These sites, which aspire to operate in the shadows beyond the reach of national and international police forces and organizations, present a significant risk to national ...

On July 5, Thai police arrested a man in Bangkok named Alexandre Cazes, a 26-year-old Canadian, for running an expansive online criminal bazaar called AlphaBay. Previously only known to law enforcement by his online moniker DeSnake, Cazes reportedly made the mistake of using his personal Hotmail email address to communicate ...

Nearly everyone now accepts that Russia attempted to interfere with the U.S. electoral process with the aim of harming Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Even President Donald Trump has grudgingly admitted that Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee. But for a long, long time – far too ...

No consensus report resulted from the yearlong negotiations of the 5th United Nations Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on the Developments in the Field of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs). As the meeting drew to a close in June, the 25 government officials ended their work with a disappointing acknowledgement ...

The top U.S. cyber diplomat will no longer have the direct ear of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The impending closure of the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues, established under President Barack Obama in 2011, has left some in dismay on how cybersecurity plays into ...

Unsurprisingly, the fifth UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) ran into difficulties that proved fatal. Previous GGEs operated in a more favorable international climate. The substance of the GGE’s work peaked with its 2013 Report and by the end of the 2015 session, it was clear that the GGE format ...

Beset by disruptive digital attacks, espionage, and cyber-enabled influence campaigns intended to sway public opinion, the United States and its allies are looking for ways to stop the onslaught of computer breaches into their systems. Many nations’ security services are bolstering their offensive military cyber capabilities and response frameworks to ...

Time and time again companies, organizations, and government agencies have proven that they can’t completely secure their computer networks from hackers – particularly nation-states with the resources to pursue access persistently. Instead of focusing solely on network defense, the United States can adopt a deterrence strategy that dissuades foreign governments ...

Disruptive and intrusive cyber activity pervades much of modern international relations. The trend towards the jockeying for global influence and geopolitical positioning through cyber means is only going to grow as more countries and non-state actors play out conflicts in the virtual domain. The responsibility for defending U.S. interests from ...

Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence, told the Aspen Security Forum today that he believes the U.S. national security community lacks the capability to prevent a “cyber-9/11”—meaning a collapse of critical infrastructure caused by malware unleashed by a state or transnational organized crime group. “Imagine a shutdown of the electric ...

Tradecraft. A term popularized in the novels of John le Carré, but practiced by spies throughout history. Tradecraft includes a number of methodologies, ranging from chalk-marked dead drops, and honey traps, to wiretapping, losing a tail, and safe houses. Spies have to master their craft if they are to be ...

Intelligence officers must often use a false identity – a legend or cover. How has social media and digital technology changed how they create and preserve these cover identities, and what have counterintelligence units traditionally looked for when trying to identify foreign spies? The Cipher Brief’s Levi Maxey spoke with ...

Intelligence officers’ tradecraft is highly guarded for good reason. One of its most important aspects is establishing a cover identity so foreign governments and hostile groups are not aware who is spying on them. The Cipher Brief’s Levi Maxey spoke with Daniel Hoffman, a former CIA station chief, about what ...

The main loss from the departure of Chris Painter, America’s top cyber diplomat, will not be the loss of one of the top U.S. civil servants in the field, with 26 years in government. Nor will the biggest hit be to U.S. airlines, whose business models have increasingly been depending ...

Despite the many logistical and operational challenges of a transition, many acknowledge that U.S. Cyber Command must eventually separate from the National Security Agency. According to news reports, the Trump Administration is now finalizing plans to separate Cyber Command from its parent organization, the National Security Agency. While the details ...

Reports of intrusions into industrial control systems (ICS) broke late last week – this time in several U.S. power plants, including the Wolf Creek nuclear facility in Kansas.  The alleged perpetrator? Russia, leading many to compare these incidents to the successful and damaging Russian attacks against the electrical grid in ...

Relations between the United States and North Korea hit a new low following Pyongyang’s test of an ICBM July 4. With a range of up to 5,000 miles – capable of reaching Alaska – the Hwasong-14 is North Korea’s longest-range missile to date, and its successful test is a direct ...

In May, the U.S. Ground-based Midcourse Defense system - the GMD - successfully intercepted a mock ICBM in a critical test of the U.S. missile defense umbrella. Given the growing threat of the development of a North Korean ICBM capable of reaching the United States, this is excellent news. However, ...

The Pentagon’s missile defense review is now underway, incorporating mandates from both the White House and Congress. One of its considerations, at presidential direction, is whether there should be a relative “rebalancing” between homeland and regional missile defense. Regional defense has received a relatively greater share of the Missile Defense ...

As the dust settles on last Tuesday’s NotPetya malware outbreak, it is increasingly evident that this was not a ransomware, money-making attack at all; rather it was a targeted, destructive cyberattack against Ukraine. It utilized deception in which it was designed to look like ransomware but wasn’t. It targeted obscure ...

Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity Director Jason Matheny worries a lot about national security risks that probably aren’t headlining many lists of pressing threats to the United States — pandemics, autonomous systems, and strategic nuclear war, to name a few. “We also have a need to protect what’s right now ...

It’s Labor Day, September 4, 2017, and the National Security Agency has just intercepted communications between the senior leadership of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the militant purveyors of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and employees of the Iranian companies ITSecTeam and Mersad. The communications reveal future disruptive cyber attacks against ...

Last February, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order calling on the Department of Treasury to review the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act enacted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. One Dodd-Frank provision the Trump Administration would like to suspend  is Section 1502, which requires U.S. companies that ...

With the advent of digital communications, people thousands of miles apart can engage with each other seamlessly, and businesses can operate at a scale previously unknown, thanks to a burgeoning consumer electronics industry. But not all aspects of this industry are positive. Some contribute to global insecurity and human suffering. ...

Terrorism, political corruption, and human rights violations in sub-Saharan Africa are like any other business: management identifies and provides a needed product or service to willing buyers, thereby generating profits and reinvesting them. In the tragedy currently playing out in the Great Lakes region of Central Africa, especially in the ...

Malicious and trusted insiders pose a range of challenges in terms of counterintelligence risks and physical threats, and experts say policy needs to catch up quickly to the new technologies available to help mitigate the problem. “There’s a lack of willingness to share information, and that’s why I still believe ...

The explosion of data in a digital world has exposed people to volumes of information as never before. But just as this data will increase exponentially with time, so too will the number of questions that can be posed against these expansive datasets. To find insight buried in this immense ...

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Deputy Director Susan Gordon on Wednesday called for the government and Intelligence Community to prioritize innovation to better confront the broad array of threats the United States faces today. Adversaries always have access to commonly available things, which means that those in the IC must find ways ...

The United Kingdom has revamped the way its intelligence agencies collaborate with private industry by establishing a new National Cyber Security Centre that leans towards more open and meaningful exchanges to help secure the country against malicious cyber attacks. The Cipher Brief’s Levi Maxey spoke with Sir David Omand, the ...

Few security challenges muddle the distinction between government and business roles as those emanating from cyberspace. National security issues no longer remain solely under the purview of government agencies, and companies continue to find themselves in the sights of foreign adversaries. Moreover, attacks against commercial products have geopolitical ramifications. Software ...

Statecraft and business have always been closely linked, but the advent of digital technology has blurred the roles more than ever. Systems crucial to the economic well-being and national security of the United States rest in the hands of private companies. The two sectors must cooperate by sharing information at ...

Terrorists’ tactics evolve with the times. Just as we have seen an adaption of terrorist methods for sowing fear and distrust, so, too, we have seen their propaganda machines evolve to inspire audiences globally. Gone are the days of printed manifestos, pamphlets, or fuzzy VHS tapes. The internet now facilitates ...

Continuing terror attacks around the world indicate law enforcement and intelligence agencies face difficulty in trying to identify and disrupt the plans of globally disparate and loosely affiliated entities. Terrorist groups have adapted to each step security services take against terror, including the severing of financial lifelines. With growing terrorist ...