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 ...

One day last May, employees of Britain’s health service logged on to their computers to find a startling discovery: their data had been encrypted, rendering it inaccessible until and unless they paid a ransom to have their data unscrambled and their access to it, returned. They were the first known ...

Much as intelligence stovepiping challenged U.S. defenses against terrorism in the lead up to 9/11, it is also an ongoing problem within the U.S. government’s cybersecurity efforts. During the final day of The Cipher Brief’s annual Threat Conference in Sea Island, Ga. CEO and Publisher Suzanne Kelly spoke with two ...

President Donald Trump’s unwillingness to publicly make plain that Russia is undertaking a large-scale active measures campaign against our democracy is forcing others in office to fill the void. It is leading lawmakers to press executive branch officials to make explicit statements about military war plans and intelligence community covert ...

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 ...

The shooting incident at the entrance to the National Security Agency had nothing to do with targeting the intelligence center, and there were no fatalities, a former U.S. official briefed on the incident tells The Cipher Brief. Up to three suspects in an SUV were being chased by police, and ...

Robert Eatinger, former senior deputy general counsel at the CIA, says the legislation that Congress just passed extending controversial surveillance authorities, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, still provides certain protections against misuse. With the U.S. Senate’s passage of the bill, the legislation heads to the ...

Politicians who support broad, unchecked government surveillance authorities are once again rushing to approve a sweeping program at the expense of Americans’ personal liberty and constitutional rights. A House bill would extend Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which enables massive, warrantless spying on Americans as a feature ...

National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers has told his staff that he will be stepping down from his post this spring, as reported by The Dead Drop on Friday. Nakasone won’t keep the dual-hatted role long term — just until the Trump administration decides to formalize the split, which sources ...

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 ...

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance act is set to expire in five weeks, and to hear current and former intelligence officials tell it, changing a single word in this statute will result in no less than the loss of American lives. This hyperbole is obscuring the nature of ...

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 ...

The Trump Administration’s National Security Council has released an unclassified set of guidelines for determining when the U.S. government will disclose – rather than retain for espionage purposes – a computer vulnerability that it discovers to the relevant private sector vendor so that a patch can be distributed. Led by ...

The NSA surveillance programs under the authorities laid out in the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA) Section 702 have been making headlines since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden first leaked them in 2013. The backlash of the leaks has caused many to criticize the surveillance law for its lack ...

The re-authorization of the National Security Agency’s internet surveillance program received a boost Tuesday from President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the national security division of the Department of Justice. John Demers, nominated by Trump to be assistant attorney general, appeared on Capitol Hill for his confirmation hearing before the ...

The Senate Intelligence Committee approved legislation last week to renew the National Security Agency’s internet surveillance program, currently authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Section 702, which is due to expire at the end of the year if Congress does not pass a new bill. The full Senate ...

As I have previously written, U.S. Cyber Command has grown up, and its elevation to a unified combatant command will soon be complete. The focus can now switch to a far more critical issue: splitting the “dual-hat” arrangement where the same uniformed officer is both Director of NSA and Commander ...

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 ...

Russian state-sponsored hackers were able to steal National Security Agency material on methods they use to conduct cyber espionage as well as how they help defend critical U.S. government networks, according to The Wall Street Journal. An NSA contractor placed the material on his or her private computer – a ...

Following a U.S. government-wide ban last month and recent news reports alleging that Kaspersky Lab enabled Russian intelligence to swipe highly classified NSA material from an employee’s private computer, questions have begun to swirl regarding the Moscow-based company’s relationship with the Kremlin. The Cipher Brief’s Levi Maxey spoke with Chris ...

After reports that highly classified intelligence material was taken from a NSA contractor’s private computer through the individual’s use of Kaspersky Lab’s antivirus software, all eyes turned to the Moscow-based company’s relationship with Russian intelligence and the Kremlin. As private companies using the antivirus software scramble to assess their exposure, ...

Russian state-sponsored hackers reportedly stole details in 2015 on how the U.S. spies on foreign intelligence targets through cyber espionage, as well as how it defends against cyber operations directed at its classified networks. According to the Wall Street Journal, the material was taken from a NSA contractor’s private computer ...

The Cipher Brief Cyber Advisory Board convenes meetings with some of the most innovative thinkers across government and the private sector, tackling a range of cyber threats. Meetings are bi-monthly and are moderated by General Michael Hayden, former Director of the NSA and CIA, as well as a rotating list ...

In mid-March, The Cipher Brief spoke with former CIA Acting and Deputy Director Michael Morell about the issue of “unmasking” – the common practice of executive branch officials requesting/receiving the identities of U.S. persons that were incidentally collected in the Intelligence Community’s pursuit of foreign intelligence.  At that time, House Intelligence ...

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 ...

Former National Security Agency Deputy Director Rick Ledgett weighed in on the veracity of the Intelligence Community’s assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 election as well as his experience in the aftermath of NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s reveals during a wide-ranging conversation at The Cipher Brief’s Georgetown Salon Series ...

Michael Morell, former acting and deputy director of the CIA, resigned Thursday from his teaching position at Harvard University in protest of the school’s naming of Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. Army soldier convicted of leaking classified information, as a Visiting Fellow. “I cannot be a part of an organization - ...

On Friday, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government withdrew its invitation to Chelsea Manning to serve as Visiting Fellow. Below is a copy of the statement released by Douglas W. Elmendorf, Dean of the Kennedy School. On Wednesday, the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School announced that Chelsea Manning ...

On Thursday, former acting director of the CIA and Cipher Brief expert Michael Morell announced his resignation as a non-resident Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International affairs. Below is a copy of the letter from Morell announcing his departure. Douglas W. Elmendorf Dean, John F. ...

On May 2, 2011 the agonizing, decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden finally ended. The raid by U.S. Navy seals on the walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan was the culmination of years of intelligence gathering. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the CIA stepped up efforts begun years earlier to ...

Tackling insider threat — everything from leaking classified information to potential workplace violence — is a key part of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center’s mandate. Leading efforts to develop new policies and pilot programs on the issue is NCSC Director Bill Evanina, who recently sat down with The Cipher ...

Top intelligence officials called this week for Congress to reauthorize a provision that allows the Intelligence Community to target communications of non-U.S. persons overseas that can also incidentally — and controversially — sweep up information related to U.S. citizens. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which sunsets ...

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 ...

One of the only tasks the U.S. Constitution declares that the federal government must do is to provide for the common defense. That is the government’s foundational truth and purpose; to protect American lives, liberty, and their pursuit of happiness from those that would disrupt it. So, the question on ...

The newest ransomware attack called NotPetya has re-ignited the debate ongoing since the earlier WannaCry attack. Cybersecurity experts, policymakers, and citizens affected have all asked: who is to blame for these attacks? The underlying vulnerability in both these attacks is based on a Microsoft vulnerability, which was discovered and extensively used by the National Security ...

The separation of the U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency (NSA) would have two major and immediate effects. It would allow the Cyber Command to develop tools built specifically for the battlefield, and it would increase the Defense Department’s ownership of cyber technologies – maybe even changing the ...

Is this ever going to end? The daily barrage of hacking news assaulting us in headlines is making us numb, if not scared to death. However, there is a little-known secret that gets lost in all of this cyber-disaster noise. The U.S government does, in fact, have a three- to ...

The National Security Agency recently announced changes to its intelligence collection practices under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The Cipher Brief spoke with Chris Inglis, the former deputy director of the NSA, about what these changes mean, why they might have come about, and how significant ...

The NSA recently said it would stop collecting signals intelligence solely “about” foreign targets by tapping the backbone of the internet resident within the United States. The announcement comes ahead of congressional consideration of the NSA’ s broader authorities outlined in Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), ...

Ever wonder whether the National Security Agency picked up your text message or email because you mentioned ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi to a friend? Claims of privacy infringement on Americans by the National Security Agency have been in headlines for years. Much of the criticism has related to ...

The National Security Agency (NSA) announced on Friday a change in its intelligence collection under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA). The move comes under the backdrop of the looming deadline of December 31, 2017 when the authorities granted by 702 will expire if not reauthorized ...

The isolation of cyber as an entirely independent domain of warfare is both inaccurate and dangerous. Today, the Pentagon faces an essential task, to integrate cyber capabilities with warfighting in the physical world. Cyber capabilities cannot be detached from other domains of warfare, such as electromagnetic, air, land, sea, and ...

The top counterintelligence priorities of the United States government are insider threats, protecting critical infrastructure, and supply chain security, according to National Counterintelligence Executive Bill Evanina, and tackling those requires a “team approach” of the government and private sector. “The threats are real and our adversaries are more brazen than ...

The process of “unmasking,” or revealing the true identities of U.S. persons who unexpectedly figure into conversations picked up by National Security Agency (NSA) foreign intelligence collection efforts, has been the subject of much discussion this week in the continuing controversy over Russian interference in last year’s elections. The issue ...

We all know it’s coming, and soon. There is significant momentum for elevating U.S. Cyber Command to a full combatant command. We should expect that soon. Bifurcating Cyber Command’s and the National Security Agency’s leadership from one leader to separate leaders for each organization also has strong momentum and should ...

FBI Director James Comey confirmed on Monday, for the first time, that the agency is conducting an investigation into whether there was any coordination between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election. Comey told the House Intelligence Committee the investigation into possible Trump-Russia connections ...

In 2013, former President Barack Obama was close to ending the “dual-hat” leadership of both the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, only to be dissuaded by senior officials arguing the close integration with the NSA continued to be necessary for the maturation of the then only 4-year-old Cyber ...

There as been discussion of a separation between the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command for a while, only for the change in administrations to cause brief hesitation. Now that the Trump administration is in full swing, it is time to revisit the prospect of a split between the ...

Among the least understood and considered elements of the Edward Snowden saga are the details around what his job was and what data he could actually access.  Did Snowden ever access or use Prism data?  Did he understand it and its protections?  Did he have long-term access to the signals ...

Steven Bay was a contractor with Booz Allen Hamilton for nine years.  He was working on an NSA contract in Hawaii when he hired Edward Snowden.  You can read more about Bay’s experience with Snowden here. He is currently the Founder and CEO of S.S. Bay Group. The latest allegations against former ...