Pages with tag Russia

Clinton Watts' in-depth explanation of Russia's social media warfare strategy Last week Security Analyst Clint Watts' explosive testimony in the Senate Intelligence Committee exposed an information warfare system created by the Russian Intelligence services. The strategy includes fake news websites, and fake social media accounts, that worked synergistically together to sow doubt and confusion. They are targeting both individuals and the population at large. A key thing is prior to the Internet, for a country to conduct direct actions in another country required that country to station staff in the target country, and set up organizations like newspapers. With the Internet, they (e.g. the Russians) can stay in their own country, their staff doesn't have to risk traveling to the target country, because it can all be done remotely. In other words, while social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc) have arguably enriched our lives, it's possible to build amazing propaganda systems on those networks.
Facebook sold ads to Russian 'troll farm' (fake news outfit) during 2016 US election

A big question from the 2016 US national elections is just how much influence Russia exerted over the results. It's being widely reported that Russians supposedly hacked the Democratic National Committee email system, and that hundreds of "fake news" websites connected to Russians were set up to manipulate beliefs of the public. There are reports going back to 2014 of Russian 'troll farm' websites spewing fake news to manipulate elections all over the world. Now the Washington Post reports that Facebook discovered they allowed a Russian troll farm company to launch advertising targeting the 2016 election chances of Hillary Clinton and others.

NY Times on Russia's new Theory of War - Information gamed as fake news to disrupt reality

Russia hacked the 2016 US elections, getting Donald Trump elected in the process, giving us all headaches and the prospect of the USA being ruined. The NY Times and other news outlets have pushed this story from many angles. This particular article covers not the hacks on the election system, but the information warfare that preceeded the election, and has been aimed at other countries as well. It's been widely reported since 2014 at least that Russia-intelligence-service-connected-companies are operating "spam farms" that spew targeted content into social media networks, into blog comments, and into fake-news-blog websites. The purpose of these operations is to make the population believe fictions, and to act on those ficitious ideas.

For example a story surfaced in Germany a couple years ago that a young girl had been raped by Muslim refugees of the sort that have flooded into Germany thanks to the Syrian civil war. The police were covering up the crime, supposedly, for some unknown reason. RT News and Sputnik News acted as amplifiers to other social media postings and protest rallies. The thing is, there was no truth to the story. There had been a young girl arrested who initially told the story of being raped, but then she recanted that story to cover up the truth of some other event in her life. These Russia-connected organizations amplified the false story, and it became a large domestic issue spreading the idea that Merkel was dangerously accepting immigrants who were raping people right and left, and it even became a diplomatic issue between Russia and Germany. All over a piece of fake news amplified by actors connected to the Russian government.

This sort of misinformation can, and has, swayed recent elections. I have collected several news reports on this topic going back a few years at Russia's use of Social Media channels and the Internet in Government-Government warfare

Security Analyst Clinton Watts study of Russian social media fake news streams In July 2016, immediately following the Attempted Coup in Turkey, fake news appeared on RT News and Sputnik News, both known as Russian Propaganda outlets, claiming that a US Military Base in Turkey had been overrun threatening the security of the large nuclear weapons cache stored at that base. Within a few minutes a whole flotilla of bot accounts on social media systems (Twitter, et al) were echoing the news release. This and other details were the subject of testimony in the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing of March 30, 2017. Clinton Watts was one of those giving testimony, giving us a clue to how social media technology is being currently utilized. The big question is whether Russia's goal ended with Trumps becoming President, or whether they're continuing to meddle in US and European politics. This is a technology story because of the means, that Russia is using channels on the Internet to conduct this warfare.
Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia's hacking of 2016 elections In the 2016 elections, it's now clear that Russia's President Vladimir Putin ordered a disinformation campaign aimed to subvert American Democracy and the campaign. They had a clearly preferred winner, Donald Trump, and utilized fake news and networks of social media bots to spread propaganda. The goal appears to be weakening Russia's major adversaries, especially the USA and NATO, so that Russia can act more freely in the world. The method, covert propaganda issued through social media, is a lot less expensive than a fighting war, and less risky since a direct battle between USA and Russia might bring in nuclear weapons. These hearings, conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee, are very different from the outright circus occurring in the House Intelligence Committee. The discussion focuses on the threat posed by Russia's use of 'active measures', active propaganda usage, and has experts describing the tools and strategies employed by the Russians. Further, the experts describe how the Trump Administration is complicit with Russia, speaking Russia-sourced talking points, and apparently collaborating with Russia.
Top-secret NSA report details Russian spear-fishing attack on US election infrastructure in October 2016

While it's widely reported that Russians built a social-media-warfare system which they're using to undermine elections in the USA and elsewhere, The Intercept has been yelling loudly "not so fast" because the allegations of Russian interference aren't verified. If we want to accuse another government of hacking our elections, or those of Moldova or Bulgaria or Montenegro or France or other countries, there'd better be solid proof, if only because the consequence of such an accusation is a possible war.

Today, The Intercept (the news site that's been calling for caution) released an explosive report detailing an effort by Russian Intelligence services to directly hack into USA election systems. They were anonymously handed a top-secret NSA report, that they've analyzed and verified, detailing NSA's documentation of a "Spear-Fishing" attack launched by Russian operatives against election agencies around the country. The goal appeared to be interfering with voter registration confirmation systems.

It's not known whether the attack was successful, just that it occurred.

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