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    Washington (CNN)US military and intelligence officials are stepping up their efforts to defend the electoral process from foreign hacking and disinformation as the November midterms approach, officials said Thursday. Officials are "actively defending against foreign interference and influence operations in U.S. elections," US Cyber Command and the National Security Agency said in a statement, "specifically by focusing on how adversaries seek to undermine U.S. interests and prosperity, the will to vote of the populace, as well as their belief in the sanctity and security of their elections." US intelligence officials are warning that Russia, China and Iran may seek to interfere in the US voting process or shape voters' perceptions, according to the command. Asked last month whether the war in Ukraine may distract Russia from interfering in the US midterm elections, FBI Director Christopher Wray said he was "quite confident the Russians can walk and chew gum" and that US officials were preparing accordingly."We have to be concerned about hybrid threats," Wray said at a cybersecurity conference at Fordham University in New York. That includes a situation in which...
    China have been accused of launching a flurry of cyber attacks on Ukraine's military and nuclear infrastructure days before Russia's invasion - indicating initial support for Putin's war. Intelligence memos from the SBU, Ukraine's spy agency, claim that more than 600 websites belonging to Ukraine's ministry of defence were attacked by the Chinese government, according to The Times. Despite the Chinese government's lukewarm public reaction to the invasion of Ukraine, the move indicates prior knowledge of the invasion plans on the part of Xi Jinping's government before troops entered on February 24. The cyber attacks indicates prior knowledge of the invasion plans on the part of Xi Jinping's government before Russian troops entered Ukraine on February 24
    U.S. officials now say the prospect for avoiding war in Ukraine appears very dim, and they expect that a Russian attack on Ukraine could include jet fighters, tanks, ballistic missiles and cyberattacks.  And while war seems likely, the officials said the Biden administration will still try to keep the window open for diplomacy, according to the Wall Street Journal.   An explosion has rocked the pro-Russian separatist capital Donetsk in eastern Ukraine in what appears to be the start of Putin's long-awaited false flag operation. A Russian invasion of the country is expected to follow.  Russian media claim the explosion was a car bomb which was intended to assassinate a top Russian separatist official - who was unhurt -  and it came hours after Putin's allies in the breakaway regions announced they would evacuate 700,000 civilians over fears of an attack by Kiev.  The US and Western intelligence agencies have long been warning of a Russian 'false flag' operation that could involve a staged attack on Putin's separatist allies to provide a pretext for the Kremlin to send its forces massed...
    WITH Russia and Ukraine seemingly on the brink of war, it's all hands on deck for President Vladimir Putin's forces – including his army of hackers. Over the years, Moscow has faced numerous allegations of cyberattacks that resulted in multiple sanctions and the expulsion of its diplomats. 4 The term "hacker" has almost become synonymous with Russia. From "troll factories" to hackers allegedly controlled by the country's security services, here is an overview of the world of Russian cybercrime. SKILLS Russia has for decades been a breeding ground for computer experts. During Soviet times, the government pushed for advances in science and technology, and – with the appearance of the first computers – in programming. With the fall of the USSR in 1991, some of the talented but underpaid programmers turned to cybercrime, soon making Russians notorious for credit card thefts around the world. "In the 90s, the environment fermented, with a culture of resourcefulness and a tendency to circumvent the rules," said Kevin Limonier, of the French Institute of Geopolitics. Most read in TechMAKING WAVES Four-story high 'rogue...
    Microsoft announced on Monday that it has disrupted the cyber-spying of a state-backed Chinese hacking group by seizing 42 websites used to gather intelligence from foreign ministries, think tanks and human rights organizations in 29 different countries, including the US. The company said a Virginia federal court granted its request last Thursday to seize the domains from the group it calls Nickel - but is also known as APT15 and Vixen Panda. This allowed Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit to take-over US-based websites and redirect traffic to its secure servers to 'help us protect existing and future victims while learning more about Nickel's activities,' the firm shared in a press release. Nickel has targeted organizations in both the private and public sectors, but Microsoft says it has not discovered any new vulnerabilities in Microsoft products related to the attacks. Scroll down for video  Microsoft announced on Monday that it has disrupted the cyber-spying of a state-backed Chinese hacking group by seizing 42 websites used to gather intelligence from foreign ministries, think tanks and human rights organizations in 29 different countries, including...
    Last week’s stunning indictment of three North Korean hackers laid bare both the advantages and drawbacks of the U.S. government’s evolving strategy of using high-profile prosecutions to publicize hostile nation-state cyber activities. Why it matters: Criminal charges can help the U.S. establish clear norms in a murky and rapidly changing environment, but they may not deter future bad behavior and could even invite retaliation against U.S. intelligence officials. Get market news worthy of your time with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free. Catch up quick: Last Wednesday, the Justice Department charged three alleged employees of North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau with undertaking a massive, multiyear hacking spree. The hackers conducted some activities — such as sending spear-phishing emails aimed at U.S. government employees and contractors — that are examples of workaday nation-state espionage. But they also took actions far outside these bounds that included: The 2014 attack on Sony Pictures. The creation and use of the destructive WannaCry 2.0 ransomware. A series of cyber-enabled bank hijackings across the globe wherein the spies tried to steal...
    (CNN)The top lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee urged the Biden administration on Tuesday to designate a leader to address the US government response to the massive hacking campaign that targeted government agencies and private-sector companies."The federal government's response so far has lacked the leadership and coordination warranted by a significant cyber event," wrote Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Vice Chairman Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in a letter to administration intelligence and law enforcement leadership. Since taking office, President Joe Biden's administration has faced mounting pressure to respond to the data breach, which has raised concerns about the security of corporate secrets, government emails and other sensitive data. The Trump administration formally pointed the finger at Russia last month after revelations surfaced in December that hackers had put malicious code into a tool published by SolarWinds, a software vendor used by countless government agencies and Fortune 500 businesses.Warner and Rubio wrote that they had little confidence that the US is on the "shortest path to recovery." The senators also complained that the...
    Investigators have revealed the massive suspected Russian cyber attack that preyed on government agencies and blue-chip businesses may be far greater than first realized, as a third of victims had not even installed the software previously thought to have been used to carry out the 'Pearl Harbor of hacks'.  Brandon Wales, the acting director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency which is investigating the attack, said a staggering 30 percent of federal agencies and private firms now known to have been breached had no direct connection to SolarWinds.  Several victims had already fallen foul to the attack long before SolarWinds even deployed its network management software Orion which was corrupted by the highly sophisticated hackers.  Wales said there is evidence hackers used Microsoft's cloud software as a way into some systems, sparking fears that millions of individuals, businesses and government agencies may have been vulnerable to the attack. In late December, the nation's top security agencies including the FBI and the Pentagon were rocked by an unprecedented breach when it emerged SolarWinds had been hacked. The attackers, which US...
    By Andrew Osborn and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber MOSCOW (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that Russia was responsible for a cyber attack that embedded malicious code inside U.S. government software systems and those of other governments and companies across the world. The Kremlin has always denied Moscow's involvement in cyber attacks against the West. It has said that Russia had nothing to do with this latest assault. Here is some information about Russia's possible motives for such an attack, and details about Russian cyber offensive and information warfare capabilities. POSSIBLE RUSSIAN MOTIVE The Kremlin has said many times it wants to improve ties with the United States, which are at a post-Cold War low and strained by issues from Ukraine to Syria. But it also openly views the United States as Russia's main geopolitical adversary and as a threat to its national security. President Vladimir Putin has accused Washington of starting a new arms race and NATO of moving military infrastructure closer to Russia's borders, and has complained about U.S. sanctions, part of what Putin casts...
    A new report from Yahoo claims that a 2018 presidential finding from President Donald Trump authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to unilaterally carry out cyber attacks against a host of countries including Iran, China, Russia and North Korea. The report, which quotes numerous current and former U.S. intelligence sources, says the previously secret authorization has resulted in more than a dozen destabilizing attacks against the aforementioned countries. WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 08: (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) “The White House wanted a vehicle to strike back,” one intelligence official told Yahoo. “And this was the way to do it.” The finding reportedly loosened Langley’s evidence restrictions for approving cyberattacks, but some officials expressed concern that doing so lowered the CIA’s standing to that of WikiLeaks. Other officials said that the lack of oversight and coordination could adversely impact both other U.S. intelligence agencies and those of our allies if they are operating within a network attacked by the CIA. (EXCLUSIVE: Trump Details Two Specific Conversations He Had With John Bolon That Made Him Realize He Was A ‘Dumb Maniac’) The...
    Washington (CNN)The largest theft of data in CIA history happened because a specialized unit within the agency was so focused on building cyber weapons that an employee took advantage of "woefully lax" security and gave secret hacking tools to WikiLeaks, according to an internal report released on Tuesday. The hacking tools stolen in the breach, which occurred in 2016, came from its clandestine Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI). The amount of data stolen is unknown, the memo said, but could be as much as 34 terabytes of data -- the equivalent of 2.2 billion pages of text. The theft was revealed around a year later, in March 2017, when WikiLeaks published what it claimed was the largest trove of CIA documents, dubbed "Vault 7," detailing some of the agency's sophisticated cyber weapons, which was first reported by the Washington Post. Ex-CIA employee charged with leaking classified informationThat incident prompted a review by the CIA WikiLeaks Task Force, which submitted its findings in an October 2017 report to then-Director Mike Pompeo and his deputy -- who is now the director --...
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