“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 ...

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 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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Russian President Vladimir Putin took to the stage for a marathon end-of-year press conference on Friday, declaring Russian’s military might, denying accusations of hacking in the U.S. elections, and addressing concerns over a new nuclear arms race. At the annual event, just shy of four hours in length this year, ...

After the assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, by an off-duty Turkish police officer, relations between Ankara and Moscow have remained surprisingly resilient. This article written by Soner Cagaptay for The Cipher Brief on July 8 takes a look at the rocky path that has led Turkey to ...

NSA leaker Edward Snowden “has had, and continues to have, contact with Russian intelligence services” since his arrival in Moscow, a declassified report released on Thursday by the House Intelligence Committee alleges. While some of the report, and much of its footnotes, remains heavily redacted, Thursday’s release highlights a number ...

The “complete meltdown of humanity” in Aleppo, as recently described by the United Nations, is an indictment of Russian/Syrian/Iranian barbarism, Arab indifference, and American dereliction and policy failure in the Levant.  The horrendous human tragedy, which is barely causing a yawn in the West—and across the Arab world as well—will ...

One day after Russia's ambassador to Turkey was killed in Ankara, foreign ministers from the two countries met in Moscow to discuss the crisis in Syria — and to vow they will keep their delicate diplomatic relationship on track in the wake of Andrey Karlov's assassination. During Monday's attack at ...

Sometime in the next 30 days, President Barack Obama should add to the economic sanctions now applied to Russia as a response to Moscow’s hacking and other cyber operations that attempted to disrupt and perhaps influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. In the process, he should bring in ...

Police in Turkey have detained six people following the killing of Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov. State media reports that the attacker’s mother, father, sister and two other relatives had been detained in the west of the country as well as his flat mate in Ankara. Ambassador Karlov was shot dead ...

General David Petraeus, former Director of the CIA, says the U.S. response to Russian hacking of the 2016 election must be calibrated to avoid a hacking war between the two sides. At a conference sponsored by Harvard University’s Belfer Center in Washington on Friday, Petraeus said there will have to ...

As the United States prepares for a new administration, The Cipher Brief's Leone Lakhani sits down with Ambassador Dennis Ross, Counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former senior Middle East Adviser to three U.S. Presidents. Ross gave The Cipher Brief his thoughts about the next ...

President Barack Obama says the U.S. will respond to the Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign. In an interview with NPR on Friday, Obama said, "I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections ... we need to take action. ...

All week, The Cipher Brief has been covering the news that Russia not only interfered in the U.S. presidential election, but according to CIA analysts, apparently did so with the intent of influencing the outcome in support of Donald Trump. The Cipher Brief wanted to know what U.S. allies, with ...

U.S. competitors and adversaries are probably” mystified,” says the Atlantic Council’s Mathew Burrows, by President-elect Donald Trump’s refusal to accept a CIA assessment that Russia is behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and his disinterest in daily intelligence community briefings.  The Cipher Brief spoke to Burrows to learn ...

When it comes to attribution—especially when foreign intelligence agencies are involved—plausible deniability is easy. However, the public has come to expect courtroom-quality evidence before believing attribution for cyber operations—a difficult task when the kind of cross-border cooperation you need to get to the bottom of the case is not likely ...

When asked by The Cipher Brief about how both allies and adversaries might view President-elect Donald Trump’s early, contentious relationship with the CIA, former Acting Director of the CIA John McLaughlin remarked, “They are already scratching their heads bald about what is going on here, so I don’t think we ...

In the recent past, every new U.S. administration has attempted to improve relations with Russia to address mutual security threats such as combating terrorism. Both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama sought to repair damaged relations with Russia early in their administrations, but, unfortunately, their hopes were eventually ...

A Congressional inquiry next year into Russian involvement in the U.S. presidential election will be only one of several Legislative Branch initiatives that may interrupt President-elect Donald Trump’s stated goal of easing relations with Moscow. The current, Republican-controlled Congress, with Democratic support, has quietly added a package of anti-Russian items to ...

As part of our special coverage of Foreign Influence, Domestic Division: Russia, the 2016 Election, and Trump’s Rebuke of the U.S. Intelligence Community, The Cipher Brief’s Executive Editor Fionnuala Sweeney speaks to Rob Richer, former CIA Associate Deputy Director for Operations and formerly chief of Russian Operations. She asked him ...

The Washington Post report on a secret CIA assessment concluding that Russia intervened in the U.S. Presidential election with the intention of helping President-elect Donald Trump win is only part of a deeply concerning and incredibly significant risk to national security.  It would be bad enough if the Russians were ...

As the United States and the international community absorbed the news that the CIA believed Russia had interfered in the recent Presidential election to help Donald Trump’s candidacy, President-elect Trump dismissed the assessment out of hand, describing it as a result of partisan politics. As part of The Cipher Brief’s ...

Naiveté is never a good way to approach foreign policy challenges.  However, it seems that every new Presidential Administration has a tendency to place hope over experience in dealing with Russia.  President George W. Bush tried to look into Putin’s soul, President Barack Obama tried a re-set, and it seems ...

Russia can influence politics in Central and Eastern Europe via the energy sector. Most of the Visegrad Group countries in Central Europe, for example, are dependent on Russia for natural gas. Some of those countries – like Hungary – recently attempted to diversify supply, only to pivot back toward Russia ...