The United States and the oil-rich Gulf Arab states have long been traditional allies. But now the Gulf states – collectively known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – are shifting some focus to the east and firming up ties with Moscow. It started with Syria. “One reason the GCC ...

I’ve covered many political scandals over the past 50 years, including Watergate, Iran-contra, and the Clinton impeachment, but the past few weeks have convinced me this country may be on the verge of one that may top them all. None of them involved a president as unprepared as Donald J. ...

As new questions arise about the Trump Administration’s contacts with Russian officials, one man has been caught in the political maelstrom: Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak. The most recent allegations surround Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is said to have met with Kislyak last year —in July ...

Cyber operations remain at the forefront of confrontations between the West and Moscow as relations continue to deteriorate. Russia asserted itself in 2007 with “patriotic hackers” launching a volley of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on Estonian systems. Then in 2008, cyber attacks preceded the Russo-Georgian war, and again ...

Understanding the Russian criminal underground is essential when discussing Russian proxies in cyberspace. How do cybercriminal entities interact with each other and what is their relationship with the Russian government? The Cipher Brief spoke with Ed Cabrera, the Chief Cybersecurity Officer at Trend Micro and the former Chief Information Security ...

What if network defenders knew that a cyber operation occurred during Moscow business hours, that it involved a Russian IP address, and that the cyber actors used a Cyrillic keyboard? Would those indicators by themselves be enough for attribution?  Given the Russian cyber environment, the answer is clearly “no.” Those ...

The U.S. this year deployed 330 Marines to Norway. The concept is nothing new; it dates back to the 2005 Oslo-Washington agreement called Marine Corps Prepositioning Program-Norway (MCPP-N). However, Karsten Friis, head of the Research Group on Security and Defence at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, notes it is ...

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, during three Sunday television interview programs, gave different and sometimes confusing stories about what activities led to President Trump’s firing of his National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, and what still may be going on about that situation. The first thing to note was ...

President Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, resigned this week over his contacts with the Russian Ambassador to the United States and his deception of Vice President Mike Pence and others on the nature of those calls, but the case is clearly not closed, legal experts told The ...

The White House sought to present the resignation of President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, as a closed chapter tied to his deceiving Vice President Mike Pence on the nature of his discussions with the Russian ambassador to the United States. But as the shake up unfolds, the ...

The resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn came only three weeks into a whirlwind beginning for the Trump Administration. The Cipher Brief’s Leone Lakhani spoke to former Acting Director of the CIA John McLaughlin – who served seven presidents and watched three transitions closely – about how the next ...

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan wants several thousand more troops from the U.S. and its allies to help break the “stalemate” in the 15 year-old war, which he told members of Congress has lately seen increased Russian involvement to bolster the Taliban and undermine the U.S. and NATO. “In ...

President Donald Trump has never shown much interest in foreign policy issues.  The few consistent themes he has supported are to defeat ISIS, restructure trade deals, and radically improve relations with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.  While it is easy to understand the interest in destroying ISIS, and his thoughts on trade ...

It is not clear whether a group of Russians arrested on charges of treason for helping U.S. intelligence, involve CIA assets, despite a claim to the contrary, two former CIA Russia specialists said Wednesday. The three people arrested were identified by lawyer Ivan Pavlov as Sergei Mikhailov and Dmitry Dokuchayev, ...

Two former CIA officers with decades of experience offered up some advice to President Donald Trump on how to deal with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during The Cipher Brief’s Georgetown Salon Series event on Thursday. Robert Richer, former Associate Deputy Director for Operations at the CIA, and Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, ...

Even before the release of the unclassified version of the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions regarding Russian hacking and involvement in the U.S. presidential elections, before President-elect Donald Trump got his classified briefing on the report from the heads of the U.S. Intelligence Community, before all the reactions to the report, ...

Russia, Iran and Turkey on Tuesday pledged to jointly enforce the fragile ceasefire in Syria, wrapping up two days of peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan. The countries wrote in a statement that they will “seek, through concrete steps and using their influence over the parties, consolidation of the ceasefire” and ...

In 2000, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, then a relative unknown outside of Russia, visited Japan.  Part of his trip included a visit to the Kodokan, the historic Judo school founded by Jigoro Kano. Putin participated in a demonstration, showing off his martial arts skills with a young Japanese student, who ...

As Donald Trump prepares to take office, one of his earliest—and most important— foreign policy decisions will be how to move forward with the United States’ bilateral relationship with Russia. Will he pursue something along the lines of Obama’s reset or take a firmer stance? Given the president-elect’s opaque statements ...

“The great thing about being around Donald Trump is, you never have any confusion about who is driving the bus,” Vice President-elect Mike Pence said Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation. I question whether President-elect Trump can drive a bus as big as the U.S. Government and wonder if he ...

Donald Trump will take office at the lowest point in Washington’s relations with Moscow since the end of the Cold War.  He has consistently talked about the need to establish a better relationship with Mr. Putin.  Can he do that in a way that serves American interests? The key to ...

In his first news conference since July, President-elect Donald Trump revealed he now agrees with the unanimous verdict of the U.S. intelligence community: Russia was behind the hack on the Democratic National Committee (DNC). "I think it was Russia," he said (though he later caveated “but you know what, it could ...

When the Russian intelligence operation designed to influence our 2016 election is used as a case study to train new Russian intelligence officers, it will be considered the most successful covert action operation in the history of Mother Russia. This operation, known as “Grizzly Steppe,” will be in the annals ...

Noon on January 20th provides an excellent opportunity for Russian President Vladimir Putin to give President-Elect Donald Trump the perfect inauguration gift - Edward Snowden. A reminder: Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, has been living in Russia as a guest of the Government there after he stole and ...

President-elect Donald Trump Wednesday lashed out in a press conference at reports overnight that U.S. intelligence agencies had given him, President Barack Obama, and leaders of House and Senate intelligence committees a highly classified two-page report indicating Russia has compromising and salacious personal and financial information on him. U.S. agencies, ...

As a bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday unveiled a bill to impose more sanctions on Russia, leaders of the U.S. Intelligence Community gathered again on Capitol Hill to testify on the Kremlin’s interference in the election. The flurry of activity related to Russia also comes amidst a week of ...

President Barack Obama’s decision to impose a range of sanctions against Russia for its successful network strike and information operation against the U.S. electoral process was an excellent first step towards an improved cyber deterrent capacity. However, we must do much more at home to harden our networks and critical ...

Let’s agree on one thing, when it comes to Russia’s recent interference with the U.S. presidential election, no one yet has found a way to deter President Vladimir Putin from doing it again – here in this country or elsewhere. At Thursday’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on foreign cyber ...

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a cyber and influence campaign aimed at interfering in the United States election and boosting President-elect Donald Trump’s chances, according to a declassified U.S. intelligence agencies’ report on Russian hacking and efforts to meddle in the 2016 election. “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith ...

The Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and subsequent leaking of sensitive internal communications has remained front and center in the U.S. consciousness. President-elect Donald Trump has consistently dismissed the U.S. intelligence community’s unanimous conclusions on Russian culpability, creating a deep rift between the incoming administration and those ...

The December 30 ceasefire in Syria, brokered by Russia and Turkey, has for the most held throughout the country, despite violence undermining the pact.  This ceasefire is the third of its kind attempted within the space of a year. But with backing from Russia and Turkey, as well as seals ...

As 2016 comes to a close, Russia and Turkey have cobbled together a ceasefire in Syria, paving the way for peace talks to end the more than five-year long war that has destroyed the country and torn asunder its social fabric.  Though past initiatives failed to silence the guns, the ...

The agreement between Turkey and Russia stipulates a halt to the fighting throughout Syrian territory from midnight on December 29, with the exception of areas with a Fatah al-Sham (formerly the al-Nusra Front) or Islamic State presence. In addition, the agreement provides for President Bashar al-Assad to remain in power ...

Top United States intelligence officials on Thursday defended the intelligence agencies’ findings on Russian hacking and interference in the election, pushing back at the public criticism leveled by President-elect Donald Trump against the Intelligence Community (IC) and noting the rhetoric has raised concerns among allies. At Thursday’s Senate Armed Services ...

Let there be no mistake, President Vladimir Putin believes Russia's military intervention has been an unqualified success. As with the annexation of Crimea, now almost three years ago, the West's efforts to thwart or diminish Putin's strategic initiatives have failed abjectly. Sanctions have had no effect in mitigating Russia's actions ...

The Russian hacking of the U.S. presidential campaign and the subsequent sanctions imposed by the Obama Administration continue to dominate the news this week, with President-elect Donald Trump planning to reveal what he knows that we don’t about the situation, and a Senate hearing with senior intelligence officials scheduled for ...

Leaders of three top Senate national security committees are to meet Wednesday to discuss alleged Russian hacking of last month’s elections, and the Senate Foreign Relations committee has set a closed-door briefing on the Obama administration’s response for Thursday, a committee aide told The Cipher Brief late Tuesday. According to ...

Will Congress reassert itself by passing new economic sanctions against Russia for using hacked emails to disrupt the U.S. presidential election if President-elect Donald Trump objects? Last Friday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on Ukraine television that the hacking was equivalent to an attack on a country and thus “an ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with Network Member Rob Richer, former Associate Deputy Director for Operations at the CIA, about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a ceasefire in Syria that went into effect on Thursday night. Richer explained that just as previous ceasefire agreements fell apart, it is unlikely that ...

Butch Cassidy graphically demonstrated that there ain’t no rules in a knife fight.  Well, so far, there ain’t no rules in cyberspace or precious few at least.  Establishing those rules and practices may take years, as it did for nuclear weapons or cold war spying.  The U.S. response to the ...

Whether President-elect Donald Trump will keep in place the Obama administration sanctions against Russia for its interference in the U.S. election remains to be seen.   Trump has repeatedly scoffed at the Intelligence Community’s conclusion that Russia hacked into the Democratic National Committee in an effort to help his candidacy, but ...

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a statement Friday that he will not expel U.S. diplomats in response to U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia yesterday by President Barack Obama, a move Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov had advocated for. Putin called the “recent unfriendly steps” taken by the outgoing Obama ...

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that a nationwide ceasefire in Syria would begin at midnight on Thursday night. This is the third such agreement this year – all other negotiated ceasefires have failed – but this deal will be enforced by Russia, Turkey, and Iran, the largest international ...

New presidents often think they can redefine relations with Russia. But will Washington ever get along with Moscow if the Kremlin does not share Western internationalist values? In this article from December 7, Cipher Brief experts John Sipher and Steven Hall, both former members of the CIA's Senior Intelligence Service, ...

Editor’s Note: Over the coming days, The Cipher Brief presents some of our most incisive coverage on key issues of 2016 and a look ahead at what is yet to come in 2017. Just before Christmas, Russian President Vladimir Putin strode onstage to field more than four hours of questions ...

After the fall of Aleppo, few would deny the influence that Russian President Vladimir Putin now wields in Syria and the Middle East - but this was not always the case. This February 18 article from the Former Head of Security at Goldman Sachs, Rob Dannenberg, offers a glimpse into ...

Russian President Vladimir Putin, a leader known for his unpredictability, may have met his match: the new President of the United States, Donald Trump. Until now, Mr. Putin knew who he was dealing with. Republicans or Democrats, the U.S. presidents he has encountered supported principles of the Western liberal democratic ...

Hacktivism has been a fact of life even before the rise of Anonymous. In 2016, we saw a tidal wave of global hacktivism and cyber spying, and this trend will continue in 2017. The social unrest around the world is ripe for escalating hacktivism, and it is increasingly fueled by ...

In July, Rob Dannenberg, the former head of security at Goldman Sachs and a 24-year veteran of the CIA, discussed Russia’s cyber strategy of information warfare and the role of proxies in undermining attribution efforts, consequentially stemming victims' political will to respond to provocations. Moving from the disruptive attack on ...

Back in August, The Cipher Brief sat down with Leo Taddeo, Chief Security Officer for Cryptzone, to discuss the cyber threats posed by Russia and China. While China primarily uses its cyber collection capabilities “to compete on an economic level,” Russia places a greater “emphasis on collecting military and diplomatic ...