• PerspectiveThe Kremlin’s Disinformation Playbook Goes to Beijing

    The coronavirus pandemic is exposing a growing competition between democratic and authoritarian governments. Jessica Brandt and Torrey Tausing write that as the U.S. and Europe struggle to contain the virus at home, Russia and China are seizing the moment to enhance their international influence through information operations.

  • PerspectiveBans on Foreign Equipment in U.S. Critical Infrastructure

    One executive order does not a trend make, but maybe two do. On May 1, President Trump issued an executive order banning the acquisition, importation, transfer or installation of any bulk electric power system equipment where the secretary of energy has determined, first, that the equipment was manufactured by a company controlled by—or subject to the jurisdiction of—a foreign adversary and, second, that the transaction poses an undue risk to the U.S. bulk-power system, economy or national security. Jim Dempsey writes “The order’s issuance signals that the administration’s efforts to purge from the nation’s telecommunications network any equipment made in China may represent a new approach to critical infrastructure in general.”

  • SurveillanceGerman Intelligence Cannot Spy on Foreigners Outside Germany without a Warrant

    The German government must come up with a new law regulating the German intelligence service (BND), after the country’s highest court ruled that the current practice of monitoring telecommunications of foreign citizens at will – that is, without a court warrant — violates constitutionally enshrined press freedoms and the privacy of communications. Until now, the BND had considered foreign nationals living outside Germany essentially fair game, on the assumption that they were not protected by Germany’s constitution.

  • DisinformationTriad of Disinformation: How Russia, Iran, & China Ally in a Messaging War against America

    By Clint Watts

    China has long deployed widespread censorship, propaganda, and information manipulation efforts within its borders, but information operations directed at foreign audiences have generally focused on framing China in a positive way. In the last two months, however, Beijing, showing itself willing to emulate Russia’s approach to information campaigns, has conducted a much more ambitious effort not only to shape global perspectives about what’s occurring inside China, but to influence public opinion about events outside its borders.

  • The Russia connectionGermany Has “Hard Evidence” of Russian Cyberattack on Parliament

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel says there is “hard evidence” of the involvement of “Russian forces” in a 2015 cyberattack on the German parliament in which documents from her own parliamentary office were reportedly stolen. Last week that federal prosecutors in Germany had issued an arrest warrant for a suspected officer with Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency.

  • DisinformationForeign countries’ Efforts to Influence U.S. Public's Understanding of COVID-19

    The ongoing worldwide coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been immune to the problem of rampant disinformation—intentionally misleading information or propaganda. The European External Action Service of the European Union recently stated that “despite their potentially grave impact on public health, official and state-backed sources from various governments, including Russia and—to a lesser extent—China, have continued to widely target conspiracy narratives and disinformation both at public audiences in the EU and the wider neighborhood.” Thomas Rid, author of Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare, discuss how disinformation has impacted the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • China syndromeU.S. to Accuse China of Hacking COVID-19 Vaccine Research

    By Masood Farivar

    For months, U.S. officials have been warning about a spike in cyberattacks during the coronavirus pandemic, but they’ve stopped short of pointing fingers at any one country. Now, as the all-out global race for a coronavirus vaccine accelerates and hackers home in on related scientific research, U.S. officials are preparing to single out a long-standing cyber adversary: China.

  • PrivacyEnhancing Privacy Protections for Android Applications

    From navigation to remote banking, mobile device users rely on a variety of applications to streamline daily tasks, communicate, and dramatically increase productivity. While exceedingly useful, the ecosystem of third-party applications utilizes a number of sensors – microphones, GPS, pedometers, cameras – and user interactions to collect data used to enable functionality. Troves of sensitive personal data about users are accessible to these applications and as defense and commercial mobile device users become increasingly reliant on the technology, there are growing concerns around the challenge this creates for preserving user privacy.

  • PerspectiveStandards Bodies Are Under Friendly Fire in the War on Huawei

    In My 2019 the Trump administration placed Huawei on the Commerce Department’s “Entity List” because “there is reasonable cause to believe that Huawei has been involved in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.” But the decision has had unintended consequences: Because Huawei participates in international standards development organizations (SDOs) which set technical standards development worldwide, the Commerce Department’s decision has created uncertainty regarding whether and how engineers working for U.S. companies can participate in those organizations as well. But if U.S. companies do  not participate in SDOs, then U.S. companies’ preferences and priorities will be overlooked, while China’s sway will only grow. Ari Schwartz argues that the United States can pursue its national security concerns with companies like Huawei via the Entity List without the need to silence American voices in vital standards development efforts.

  • UFOsU.S. Navy Releases "Unexplained Aerial Phenomena" Videos

    The U.S. Department of Defense earlier this week released three declassified videos of “unexplained aerial phenomena” (the official name for “unidentified flying objects,” or UFOs). The three videos released Monday had already been leaked to the press in 2007 and 2017. Believers in the existence of extraterrestrial life cheered the Pentagon’s release of the videos, but experts caution that earthly explanations usually exist for such sightings — and that when people do not know why something happened, it does not mean it happened because of aliens.

  • The Russia connectionAlleged Kremlin Poison Plot Highlights Czechs' Russian Spy Problem

    By Tony Wesolowsky

    A suspected Russian intelligence agent was reported to have flown into the Czech capital with a deadly mission. The agent was tasked with taking out three local Czech officials, including the mayor of Prague, Zdenek Hrib. Each of the three had taken or supported steps that angered Moscow, including the removal of a statue of a controversial Soviet general and the renaming of the square in front of the Russian Embassy in Prague after the slain Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov. Western intelligence experts find the alleged plot possible, especially given the number of Russian spies reported to be operating out of the Czech Republic.

  • China syndromeU.K.: Parliamentary Opposition to Huawei’s 5G Deal Growing Significantly

    Support in the British Parliament for allowing Huawei a role in Britain’s 5G network is collapsing. In January, the U.K. government granted Huawei approval to supply 5G technologies for parts of the U.K. network – with some restrictions, which critics of the deal say are meaningless. The government’s plan requires an act of Parliament to take legal effect, but the opposition to the deal among members of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has been steadily growing, especially in light of China’s lack of transparency regarding the coronavirus epidemic. Observers now say that the hardening of opposition to the deal among rank-and-file Conservative MPs will make it difficult — if not impossible — to get the legislation passed.

  • The Russia connectionSenate Intel Releases Report on Intel Community Assessment of Russian Interference

    On Tuesday, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a new report, the fourth and penultimate volume in the Committee’s bipartisan Russia investigation. The latest installment examines the sources, tradecraft, and analytic work behind the 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) that determined Russia conducted an unprecedented, multi-faceted campaign to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. “One of the ICA’s most important conclusions was that Russia’s aggressive interference efforts should be considered ‘the new normal,’” said Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), the committee’s chairman.

  • PerspectiveChinese Agents Helped Spread Messages That Sowed Virus Panic in U.S., Officials Say

    U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed that Chinese operatives have pushed false messages across social media platforms, aiming to amplify and exaggerate the actions of the U.S. government in order to sow panic, increase confusion, and deepen political polarization in the already-on-edge American public. The amplification techniques are alarming to U.S. officials because the disinformation showed up as texts on many Americans’ cellphones, a tactic that several of the officials said they had not seen before. American officials said the operatives had adopted some of the techniques mastered by Russia-backed trolls. That has spurred agencies to look at new ways in which China, Russia and other nations are using a range of platforms to spread disinformation during the pandemic. President Trump himself has shown little concern about China’s actions, dismissing worries over China’s use of disinformation when asked about it on Fox News. “They do it and we do it and we call them different things,” he said. “Every country does it.”

  • ArgumentThe Totalitarian Temptation Resisted

    In Hungary, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Russia, the Philippines, and other countries, strongman leaders are taking advantage of a distracted international community to reinforce authoritarian agendas. Josef Joffe writes that, in contrast, national emergencies in the West do not breed despots, nor the grasping security state. Joffe argues that those who predict that the coronavirus epidemic will facilitate an authoritarian takeover, ignore four critical points – all of which contribute to making Western democracies resilient in the face of challenges such as an epidemic and other crises.