On 23 March, the Syrian Democratic Forces announced the capture of Baghouz, the last remaining ISIS stronghold in Syria. This may arguably mark the end of the physical caliphate, but the question of whether ISIS is defeated in Iraq and Syria remains a point of heated debate. Too much of ...

The Department of Defense launched an experiment in 2015 aimed at making it easier for the government to benefit from commercial technology.  It was called the ‘Defense Innovation Unit Experimental’ (DIUX) and three and half years later, it’s no longer an experiment. Now known only as DIU, (minus the X) ...

Every morning, analysts, operators, and policymakers arrive at their desks to read the latest news and intelligence reporting that has come in during the past day. The daily rhythm of “reading the morning traffic” has remained largely unchanged since the 1950s. Professionals in the intelligence community and military spend upwards ...

Negotiations have wrapped up between the U.S. and the Taliban, with both sides citing ‘progress’ but nothing groundbreaking in terms of a settlement.  These are the longest talks of their kind since the conflict began in 2001. In the aftermath of the negotiations, a diplomatic crisis is growing between Washington ...

Under/Cover is constantly probing for insights that will help readers (and writers) understand how to gauge demand, and how to know if that story they have burning inside of them, is actually a book or not.  We recently spoke with Bruce Nichols, Senior Vice President & Publisher of Houghton Mifflin ...

Dr. Stacey Dixon took over as Director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA)  in September of last year.  Her specific task is to advance innovative research programs that will help the Government gain an advantage in the overall intelligence mission.  No small task. Dr. Dixon is also a ...

It needs no more than 4 bad decisions for India and Pakistan to go to war; and 5 for that war to go nuclear. So how did the Pulwama crisis measure up against this approximate yard-stick? The 15-day crisis began with a suicide attack on an Indian paramilitary police convoy ...

At least 50 people were killed and another 50 wounded in Friday’s Christchurch attacks.  New Zealand authorities worked through the weekend to identify the victims as quickly as possible in order to allow for them to be buried in accordance with Muslim tradition. The suspect in the shootings, 28-year-old Brenton ...

The U.S. and China are rapidly sliding into a full-court confrontation in and over cyberspace. This portends serious risks and disadvantages for both sides in light of their economic and technological interdependence. It is bound to have even greater reverberations internationally, given that both countries serve as the world’s leading ...

Cipher Brief Expert and former member of the CIA's Senior Intelligence Service, Emile Nakhleh  was recently interviewed by the Bahrain Mirror.  The Cipher Brief is reprinting that conversation with permission. (Ed note:  Nahkleh will be speaking at The Cipher Brief's 2019 Threat Conference March 24-26) By Bahrain Mirror -- Two ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with Nils Puhlmann, a co-founder of the Cloud Security Alliance, about the security challenges he sees ahead as demand for Cloud services increases. The Early Days of the Cloud When the Cloud came about, it was really convenient and easy.  You had your browser, you logged ...

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 ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Killer Collective   By Barry Eisler Reviewed by Daniel Hoffman In Barry Eisler’s new novel The Killer Collective, half-Japanese and half-American assassin John Rain leads a ruthless team with military and law enforcement backgrounds to deliver their distinct brand of justice to a sinister criminal ring operating ...

OPINION -- Set aside for a moment how you feel about building the wall. There is a more immediate issue in controlling the flow of illegal traffic and drugs on the southwest border, and that is the hiring and retaining of Customs and Border Patrol Officers. With all of the recent ...

When DHS was established shortly after 9/11, terrorism was the focus. But in the 16 years since the Agency’s creation, the threat landscape has changed dramatically and cyber now plays a leading role in overall threats. Four months ago, President Trump signed the Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency Act, ...

Extremist organizations are successfully preying on a rising generation of nearly one billion Muslim millennials in order to add to their ranks, according a new book published by Cipher Brief Expert Farah Pandith. Pandith was appointed as the first female Special Representative to Muslim Communities by the U.S. State Department ...

The cyber landscape is drastically changing and the threats of today will pale in comparison to those our nation will face tomorrow. With the development of the internet of things (IOT) and faster connectivity through the advancement of 5G, cyber attacks will increase in volume and severity as we see ...

Former State Department Regional Medical Officer and Psychiatrist, Kenneth Dekleva pieces together recent news from the Hanoi Summit with a focus on Kim Jong-un’s behavior and what he might do next. The results of the recent Hanoi summit between Chairman Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump have led to a ...

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 ...

The perspective: Chad Brockway is a former program manager for the Special Technologies and Applications Section (STAS) at the FBI, and also served as the Deputy Watch Center Director for the Department of Defense Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) at the Bureau.  He is currently the Vice President, Cyber Operations Division ...

BOOK REVIEW: HUNTING LEROUX: The Inside Story of the DEA Takedown of a Criminal Genius By Elaine Shannon Reviewed by Joseph Augustyn, former Chief of Staff for CIA's Director of Operations Paul Calder LeRoux was a genius.  He was a diabolical genius.  He was also a computer genius. And he ...

Cipher Brief Expert and former Senior Director for Cyber Operations at the National Security Council, Thomas Donahue, provides critical perspective on the strategy needed to protect the sovereignty of the U.S. telecommunications backbone. The U.S. Government - by blocking the sale of U.S. high technology firms to foreign companies for ...

After much anticipation of a signing ceremony between the U.S. and North Korea, President Donald Trump and North Leader Kim Jong-un left Hanoi with no deal.  It was a move applauded even by President Trump’s harshest critics, as it became clear that the U.S. and North Korea, despite two high-profile ...

The debate on cyber conflict has gotten so locked into deterrence, escalation, coercion, and signaling we pundits often forget that conflict is sometimes straightforward and you just have to stop adversaries from punching you. This ought to be the main lesson from Ellen Nakashima’s article that U.S. Cyber Command disrupted ...

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 ...

The recent announcement of plans to keep 200 U.S. “peacekeepers” in Syria has been met with a mixture of relief and confusion. Relief, as the December announcement to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria was almost universally condemned by analysts and politicians, and confusion at the lack of detail that followed ...

BOOK REVIEW: One Nation, Under Drones: Legality, Morality and the Utility of Unmanned Combat Systems By Capt. John E. Jackson, USN, (Ret.) Editor, Naval Institute Press Reviewed by Terence Check The development of “drones”, it would seem, has come full circle. From a technology originally pioneered in the garages of ...

Expectations are high for the second summit of President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jung-Un.  Most people assume that there wouldn’t be a second summit if the principals weren’t confident that the summit would be a success.  So, how do we define a successful summit? The first summit was historic, ...

The world is watching Hanoi this week as President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hold their second summit meeting in less than a year.  Critics worry that any declaration of 'success' out of the Hanoi meeting will fall short of full denuclearization, something western leaders say is ...

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 ...

The Cipher Brief asked expert and retired four-star General David Petraeus for his big takeaways after attending last weekend's Munich Security Conference. First, the wedge between the U.S. Administration and Europe is a good bit bigger than last year, and Russia, Iran, and China are working to highlight and exploit the ...

BOOK REVIEW: Putin's World By Angela Stent Reviewed by Cipher Brief expert, Michael Sulick Vladimir Putin, enormously popular in Russia yet reviled in the West, avidly courting, and courted, by other nations, has become one of the most studied – and most militant –leaders on the world stage today. Just ...

OPINION -- Prior to President Trump, only two Presidents have initiated use of the special emergency authority [U.S. Code Title 10, Section 2808] to transfer un-obligated military construction money to new projects without Congressional approval. The original legislation, passed in 1981, at the height of the Cold War, was titled ...

Steven Hall spent more than 30 years in the CIA, the bulk of them running and managing intelligence operations in Eurasia and Latin America.  He has experience both in counterintelligence and counterterrorism and has overseen intelligence operations in the countries of the former Soviet Union.  When he retired from the ...

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 ...

It’s been a busy national security week in DC.  Congressional lawmakers and the President managed to reach a deal that would fund the government but leaves the issue of border security open for further action.  On Thursday, President Trump announced he would sign the deal, but that he would also ...

OPINION -- Two senior U.S. military commanders in the Indo-Pacific area this week questioned whether North Korea would ever denuclearize, just 12 days before the next scheduled summit in Hanoi between President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un. While Trump has repeatedly said that "things are going very well ...

As part of The Cipher Brief's special coverage in the run up to our 2019 Threat Conference in Sea Island, GA March 24-26th, we will be presenting a series of weekly briefs on pressing national and global security issues.  Cipher Brief experts, many of whom have briefed presidents and world leaders ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Breaking and Entering: The Extraordinary Story of a Hacker Called ‘Alien’ By Jeremy N. Smith Reviewed by Niloofar Razi Howe Hacking new technology is an old sport. In June 1903, Italian inventor and eventual Nobel Prize Winner Guglielmo Marconi held a public demonstration of his new wireless telegraph ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On February 10, U.S.-backed forces surrounded the Syrian town of Baghouz Al-Fawqani, the ‘last’ remaining stronghold of the so-called Islamic State. President Donald Trump expects to make a formal announcement declaring the ‘official defeat’ of the Islamic State, which could come as early as this ...

The Cipher Brief’s new Friday column, ‘Cipher Select’ talks with retired Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Rob Lively, who spent 28 years in the U.S. Army, where he was part of a special operations unit based at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. In Lively's first interview post-retirement, Cipher Select Executive Editor Brad ...

Cipher Brief Expert Emile Nakhleh is a retired CIA Senior Intelligence Service Officer and founding director of the CIA’s Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program Office. Iran celebrates the fortieth anniversary of the Islamic Revolution during the first 10 “Days of Dawn” in February, beginning with February 1, the day Ayatollah ...

A hundred years from now historians will write that one of America’s greatest contributions to the world was the Internet. Though other countries and foreign citizens contributed to the effort, U.S. government funding and American academics and technologists created the Internet. As U.S. dependence on the Internet for our economic ...

Cyber has quickly become the global threat that knows no borders, nor does it distinguish between the public and private sectors.  Executives from the world’s largest tech companies gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month to talk about the problem and try to find solutions that could ...

Innovation in Government isn’t generally a phrase that rolls off the tongue, but in a relatively unconstrained threat environment, innovation has become synonymous with survival. A few years ago, the world’s most secretive signals intelligence agency underwent a significant reorganization effort that combined elements of the Agency’s offensive and defensive ...

OPINION -- The “tremendous progress” with North Korea that President Trump has repeatedly claimed does not approach the success that Kim Jong Un has achieved, based on the status of negotiations as described by Trump’s own Special Representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun. Biegun said his meeting this week with ...

It’s difficult to feel anything other than disappointment after reading Reuter’s investigation of activities by a U.S. contractor in the UAE.  The allegations that former NSA analysts working for a private U.S. contractor may have aided in the surveillance of U.S. citizens raises troubling issues about the activities of private contractors ...

Last month, the U.S. Department of State marked the 35th anniversary of the U.S. designation of Iran as a state-sponsor of terrorism. Tehran is part of an exclusive club—partners in crime with other designees North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. Indeed, since at least 1996, in one country report on Terrorism after another, ...

This week’s release of the Intelligence Community’s unclassified Worldwide Threat Assessment made clear which groups the IC believes pose the greatest terrorist threats to the U.S. in 2019. The list of terrorist organizations includes: ISIS, Al Qaeda, Homegrown Violent Extremists (‘likely to present the most acute Sunni terrorist threat to ...

As part of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment this week, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that “Global jihadists in dozens of groups and countries threaten local and regional U.S. interests, despite having experienced some significant setbacks in recent years, and ...