Tag: Russia

Russian hackers seek to game Euro elections

After their success in helping get Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump elected in the US, Tsar Putin has set his Russian hackers gaming the EU elections, a US DoJ bloke has warned.

A former Justice Department official who served in the Obama administration said European countries must be willing to respond forcefully to efforts by Russia or others to use cyber-attacks to meddle in their elections.

While the US was also aware that attacks were taking place they didn’t manage to stop Putin getting a bloke who owes him and his chums money from getting elected.

Former Assistant Attorney General John Carlin, who ran the national security division at the Justice Department and oversaw the pursuit of cyber criminals, said the United States did not do enough to deter the hacking and leaking of Democratic Party emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“What we did was too late. We weren’t bringing deterrence at all to the table.”

Carlin warned that countries with upcoming elections should be prepared to offer forceful and timely responses to cyber-attacks.

“Pre-election, it’s vital that not just the United States but partners like Germany, like France make it clear what the red line is, that there’s going to be strong deterrence and that in terms of deterrence, our policy has got to be we are going to take action until the action stops,” Carlin said.

Elections are set this year in European countries including France, Germany and the Netherlands.

US senators investigate Russian hacking

russian-villagersWhile Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump is denying his chum Tsar Vladimir Putin unleashed his team of hackers to help him win the election, senior U.S. intelligence officials will testify in Congress on Thursday on Russia’s alleged cyber-attacks during the 2016 election campaign.

Trump has not been briefed on the hacks yet, but that has not stopped him denying they took place.  He is apparently going to receive details on the DMC hack today.

He is already heading for a spat with Democrats and fellow Republicans in Congress, many of whom don’t like Putin and distrust Trump’s praise of the chap.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Marcel Lettre are expected to appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is chaired by Republican John McCain, a vocal critic of Putin.

Their testimony on cyber threats facing the United States will come a week after President Barack Obama ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian suspected spies and imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies over their alleged involvement in hacking U.S. political groups in the 2016 election.

US intelligence agencies say Russia was behind hacks into Democratic Party organizations and operatives before the presidential election, a conclusion supported by several private cybersecurity firms. Moscow denies it.

US intelligence officials have also said the Russian cyber-attacks aimed to help Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. Several Republicans acknowledge Russian hacking during the election but have not linked it to an effort to help Trump win.

Documents stolen from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign manager, were leaked to the media in advance of the election, embarrassing the Clinton campaign.

Trump and top advisers believe Democrats are trying to delegitimize his election victory by accusing Russian authorities of helping him.

However, he has not helped his case by nominating Moscow-friendly types to senior administration posts, including secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, who while Exxon Mobil chief executive, was awarded the Order of Friendship, a Russian state honour, by Putin in 2013.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will also hold a closed-door hearing today to look at Russia’s alleged hacking and harassment of US diplomats.

 

Germany thinking of fining Facebook for each fake news story

German coat of armsThe German government is thinking of slapping a huge fine on Facebook for each fake news story it publishes.

For those who came in late, fake news is the latest thing.  It is news which is sometimes called “satire” in the US by people who don’t know what satire is.  It is normaly conspiracy laden rubbish which no sane person would believe and is tailored to repeat things that people want to believe. It was considered a factor in the election of  the Russian-backed Donald (prince of Orange) Trump in the US.

Germany is worried. Particularly as it fears that the Far-Right in its country will use fake news to stir up trouble about immigrants.  After all they have a long history of doing just that. According to the article, “Lawmakers in the country are reportedly hoping it will prevent Russia from interfering in Germany’s elections next year.”

The government of Germany is considering imposing a legal regime that would allow fining social networks such as Facebook up to 500,000 euros ($522,000) for each day the platform leaves a ‘fake news’ story up without deleting it.

Germany’s parliamentary chief of the Social Democrat party Thomas Oppermann said in an interview with Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine that the law would reportedly apply to other social networks too.

“If after the relevant checks Facebook does not immediately, within 24 hours, delete the offending post then [it] must reckon with severe penalties of up to 500,000 euros.”

Under the law, “official and private complainants” would be able to flag news on Facebook as fake. Facebook and other affected social networks would have to create “in-country offices focused on responding to takedown demands,” the report says. The bill, slated for consideration next year, is said to have bipartisan support.

 

 

Czech form police fake news unit to defend against Putin

putin-buzz1The Czech Republic is setting up a new counter-terrorism unit to combat the rise of fake news or “foreign disinformation campaigns.”

Dubbed the “The Center Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats” the unit will start operations on January 1.

Apparently the new center will monitor internal security threats, including attacks on soft targets and extremism, as well as “disinformation campaigns related to internal security.”

Czech spooks have been allowed that the Russians have been running disinformation and cyber-espionage activities against the Czech Republic, European Union and NATO. The Czech Republic is due to hold a general election next year and it is a bit worried that Tsar Putin will attempt to put his favour candidate in power – in much the same way as he did in the US elections.

According to the Czech Security Information Service (BIS) annual report, Russia in 2015 used “influence and information operations” to try to manipulate public opinion in the Czech Republic in relation to Syria and Ukraine. Russia is involved in conflicts in both these countries.

The report claimed that Russia’s hybrid warfare operations included “weakening the strength of Czech media” through “covert infiltration of Czech media and the Internet, massive production of Russian propaganda and disinformation controlled by the state.”

Russian operations included founding puppet organizations, the “covert and open support of populist or extremist subjects,” and “disrupting the coherence and readiness of NATO and the EU.”

“The above-mentioned activities pose a threat to the Czech Republic, EU and NATO not only in relation to the Ukrainian and Syrian conflicts. “The infrastructure created for achieving these goals will not disappear with the end of the two conflicts. It can be used to destabilise or manipulate Czech society or political environment at any time, if Russia wishes to do so.”

According to the Czech interior ministry, its new unit won’t be interrogating anyone, censoring online content or bringing legal proceedings, nor will it “have a button for ‘switching off the internet.'” But it will monitor threats, inform the public about “serious cases of disinformation” and promote internal security expertise.

White House rushes to lock out Russian hackers

Vladimir Putin - Wikimedia CommonsThe White House is rushing to stop Russian hackers from gaming future US elections before Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump takes over and lets them get away with it.

President Obama wants to implement measures to penalise Russia for allegedly interfering in the US presidential elections. In 2015, the White House announced new economic sanctions, which authorised the Obama administration to punish and prevent foreign hackers who attack US national security and economy.

The National Security Council, the sanctions fall short of providing the current administration enough power to punish the biggest and most controversial cyberattack that hit the Democratic National Committee so now it is trying to work out how to tailor the sanctions to punish the Russian election hackers.

According to reports, one way of striking back at the Russian election hackers would be to declare electoral systems as critical infrastructure and what the Russians did actually harmed it,

The White House is seeking to employ measures that not only provide authority to penalise hackers who harm national security, but also prevent such attacks in the future.

US authorities blame Russian state-sponsored hackers for targeting political parties in efforts to interfere in the elections and help Trump secure a victory. The White House’s allegations were bolstered by US intelligence and the FBI’s analysis of the attacks, which also hold Russia responsible for its interference in the elections.

The worry is that if the Russians think “that worked pretty well” they will try to do it every-time the US has an election until they get the sort of government they want. The fear is that when Trump enters the White House he will abandon any moves to shore up the defenses against Russia because he owes them rather a lot of money.  If the rules are in place before he takes over, it might be more difficult for him to bin them.

US drones turned over by Russian hackers

orvillecopter-bart-jansen-cat-droneWhile the US has spent a fortune on drone technology, that gear has never actually had to stand up to an opponent that can fight back.

The situation is a bit like the days of the British colonial wars where the prerequisite of a campaign was that the enemy should under no circumstances carry guns. Drones can buzz around blowing up who they like safe in the knowledge that the Iraqis, Isis or Afghans have not got anything to stop them.

According to a new Reuters report  all that is coming unstuck in the Ukraine which has spent a fortune on US drone technology only to find itself deployed against the Russians who know how to take it out.

Millions of dollars’ worth of U.S.-supplied drones that Kiev had hoped would help in its war against Russian-backed separatists have proven ineffective against jamming and hacking.

The 72 Raven RQ-11B Analog mini-drones were so disappointing following their arrival this summer that Natan Chazin, an advisor to Ukraine’s military with deep knowledge of the country’s drone programme, said if it were up to him, he would send them back to the US.

He said that it was a wrong decision to deploy the AeroVironment drones in the Ukraine conflict where the separatists have their own Russian made high tech gear which can intercept and jam their video feeds and data.

For some reason the drones use an analogue signal which means that the the command channels and data are not protected from interception and suppression.

The US itself is a bit spooked.  It had convinced itself since the Cold War was over that the Russians could not technologically match it. Arrogantly it assumed it was the masters of electronic warfare only to discover that Russia’s electronic warfare capabilities were far more sophisticated than thought.

The U.S. Army told Reuters it still uses Ravens but has upgraded them to digital versions, but the Ukrainians apparently can’t have these. One of the US officials cautioned about limitations on America’s ability to export drones that can evade Russia’s electronic warfare capabilities.  The US is still smarting from IS capturing shedloads of its gear from the Iraqis.

The Ukrainians have found the older tech so useless that the do not use them in the front lines and are mostly in storage.

This was because they allowed the enemy to see Ukrainian military positions and, when it wanted, easily take them down. Their battery life was too short to be useful at gaining intelligence on artillery positions, he said. Meanwhile it is continuing the build its own drones from commercially available tech.

Putin likes Sailfish

Vladimir Putin - Wikimedia CommonsJolla’s Sailfish OS appears to have interested Tsar Putin’s Russian Kingdom.

The mobile OS is made by a Finnish company and is being touted as a rival to Android. The open saucy code appears to have attracted the all-seeing eye of Putin who is rather keen to get his nation off its addiction to decadent western technology which is often made by homosexuals.

The government has said it wants to radically reduce its reliance on foreign mobile OSes by half in 2025 vs the 95 percent of the market garnered by Android in 2015. Two OSes were being considered – Sailfish and Tizen. Now Sailfish has achieved domestic certification in Russia for government and corporate use it looks like it has sent its rival Tizen packing.

Sailfish’s local certification in Russia also follows an announcement earlier this year that a new Russian company, Open Mobile Platform (OMP), had licensed the OS with the intention of developing a custom version of the platform for use in the domestic market.

This means that a Russian, strategic ‘Android alternative’ is currently being built on Sailfish.

Microsoft defends Viking chess champion from Russian hackers

vikingNorwegian Magnus Carlsen, the world chess champion has asked the Software King of the World, Microsoft, to protect him from Russian hackers.

Carlsen is worried that he will become plagued by cyber-attacks before the match with the Russian grandmaster Sergey Karjakin.

Carlsen uses technology and computing power to prepare the match and he is afraid that Russian hackers would attempt to break into his computers to access information that could help Crimean-born Karjarin to win the match.

Beating Calsen would be a bit of propaganda coup for Tsar Putin. Karjakin represents Russia now but comes from Ukraine and supports Putin’s annexation of the region. It is therefore useful to Putin to create an image that a religious belief in all he stands for grants you victory. After all it is what he has been doing for his chum Trump in the US.

Vole has promised to protect Carlsen’s data and will secure communications to make sure that nothing is lost or compromised. Carlsen’s advisers will also be protected, as Russian hackers could also launch attacks against them to get data about the match.

Vibeke Hansen, head of the Communications department at Microsoft Norway said the element of surprise is vitally important in chess and no one expects Volish minions to go Viking on them.

“Preparing for a World Championship demands a lot of work, analysis and strategic sparring – and a lot of computing power. The last few months before a match are filled with a lot of preparation and hard work; it is crucial that no data is lost or compromised,” Hansen said.

Ukraine wants Volish HoloLens

14264141_1178166992244106_4781285111052641826_nUkraine is trialing a more military use of Microsoft’s Hololens.

The big idea is to use the cameras on the outside of a tank to create a 360 degree view of the battlefield so that the tank commander does not have to pop out and have a shufty.

The new HoloLens-enabled helmet has been developed by Limpid Armor and enoables tank commanders a better view of their surroundings just by turning their heads from inside the safety of the tank.

The helmet, dubbed the Circular Review System (CRS), sets a HoloLens headset directly onto the front of its frame. Video feeds gathered from the tank’s exterior cameras are stitched together and displayed through the headset as a “mixed reality” view to the wearer. he CRS can tag enemy and friendly soldiers, designate targets and feed critical information to the commander.

Limpid Armor debuted the Limpid Armor in mid-October at the Arms and Security show held in Kiev. The company has not yet tested the helmet outside the lab, however, the Ukraine military has expressed interest in the technology so, given the region’s heightened tensions surrounding Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula, expect for field tests to come quickly.

Trump server secretly communicated with Moscow

trumpuckerSecurity experts claim to have found that a server belonging to Donald Trump was secretly passing messages to a Russian bank with close ties to Putin.

In a rather long winded article the Slate spoke to a security expert who stumbled across  a bank in Moscow that kept irregularly pinging a server registered to the Trump Organisation on Fifth Avenue.

The expert kept logs of the Trump server’s DNS activity and circulatated to his mates in the cybersecurity world to see if they yielded any clues.

Initially they thought it was a malware attack on Trump, but the pattern seemed to fitted human conversation better. The chats seem to begin during office hours in New York and continued during office hours in Moscow.

The researchers worked out that this wasn’t an attack, but a sustained relationship between a server registered to the Trump Organization and two servers registered to an entity called Alfa Bank.

Trump’s server had been somewhat strangely configured and, although it was high powered, handled a tiny load of traffic.

When the researchers pinged the server, they received error messages. They concluded that the server was set to accept only incoming communication from a small handful of IP addresses. Some of the logs showed communication with a server belonging to Michigan-based Spectrum Health, but the company said that they had not conducted any communications with either Trump or Alfa Bank.

The security experts noticed that conversation between the Trump and Alfa servers appeared to follow the contours of political happenings in the United States. “At election-related moments, the traffic peaked,” according to Camp. There were considerably more DNS lookups, for instance, during the two conventions.

They passed their notes to DNS expert Paul Vixie, who concluded that the parties were communicating in a secretive fashion using a method like criminal syndicates do if they are putting together a project. In other words, this was a digital hotline connecting the two entities, shutting out the rest of the world, and designed to obscure its own existence.

Alfa Bank is run by a Ukrainian called Mikhail Fridman who is Russia’s second richest bloke and a friend of Putin. He has never been associated with dirty deeds and has a history as being philanthropist.

When the team contacted the bank in Russia, the New York server was suddenly shut down. The bank denied any connection to Trump.

Four days later, on 27 September, the Trump Organisation created a new host name, trump1.contact-client.com, which enabled communication to the very same server via a different route.

Yet the official statement from Trump was that the email server had been set up for marketing purposes and operated by a third-party, has not been used since 2010.

“The current traffic on the server from Alphabank’s [sic] IP address is regular DNS server traffic—not email traffic.  To be clear, The Trump Organization is not sending or receiving any communications from this email server. The Trump Organization has no communication or relationship with this entity or any Russian entity.”